I lay awake for half the night, staring at the ceiling in a Jane the Virgin stupor.
Delph and I discovered Jane the Virgin on Saturday night. We’d just finished watching Riverdale – oh Luke Perry, it was your last episode – and we were scrolling for something else to watch. I don’t watch a lot of TV and didn’t have high hopes. In fact, I was just about to turn the TV off when I came across a trailer that caught my eye. The premise of Jane the Virgin is that Jane was artificially inseminated by accident when she should’ve had a smear test. It caught me on the embryology hook.
‘Shall we try one episode Delph?’
She nodded and the rest is, well… after four days, we are almost the first season through. This breath of fresh TV show air.
Jack walked into the living room as we watched. His ears pricked up. It reminded him a little of Ugly Betty he said. Ha! Ugly Betty was another feel-good sitcom about a historically Latin American family with second generation Americans. And its main character had the same hard-working, organised, built for success personality. Both Betty and Jane are entering the corporate world. Yep, all in all, Jane the Virgin is similarly upbeat until Season 1, Episode 6. After this episode, unless you are half-dead you have to sit up and take notice. There is some sizzling chemistry between Jane and her baby daddy Raphael. Told in this Latin American telenovela style, it brought us onboard 110%. When Lulu came back from her sleepover at Amalie’s, we even made her catch up. We may have overdone it a little.
Latin American soap operas are known for their over-the-top drama and unrealistic storylines. Jane the Virgin succeeds by playing with this notion. It’s about your investment in the characters. If you believe in them and specifically, in the longing in their eyes, you can believe anything. All the while, Jane the Virgin’s narrator gently persuades while also staying tongue-in-cheek.
The thing that kept me up staring at the ceiling though, is the programme’s positive attitude to sex. It promotes love: romantic love. I haven’t watched a program like this for ages. And I used to love these kinds of programs.
It struck me recently that so much of our culture treats sex as shameful. It was summed up really thoughtfully by the New York Times podcast, Still Processing. The journalists, Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham, explained. Starting from the 1960s, everyone started having sex openly. Then something changed. Perhaps because of that over-exuberant sexual pendulum, sex scandals in the 1990s like President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, saw sex get turned into something dirty. Similarly, teenage movies – American Pie, Knocked Up and others promoted its sense of shame. Sex now is mostly shame-based on our TV screens.
This is why this show is different. OK, Jane the Virgin isn’t realistic for the most part, but it has such a quest for love. This makes me absolutely inspired by it. Enough to lay awake for half the night, stare at the ceiling and dream about love. Pure, romantic love.