By Anamika Dutta, Culture Editor
At first glance, “Jane the Virgin” may not seem like the show that makes female empowerment a top priority, but it consistently delivers strong female-driven plotlines that are multidimensional and relatable. The basic plot synopsis does not reveal much in this regard; a devout, celibate, 20-something-year-old Catholic woman is accidentally artificially inseminated, turning her into a pregnant virgin. Yes, the show is ridiculous. It is very much a parody of the classic telenovela: each week can offer some farfetched new developments that somehow captivate the audience’s attention, while also packing on the “soapiness” and over-dramatization through the characters’ relationships and difficulties. However, the highlight of the show is its ability to convey multidimensional women with complex storylines. Some are compassionate, some are revenge-seeking, but they are all independent, powerful, and driven.
Jane Villanueva, played by the talented and hilarious Gina Rodriguez, was raised solely by her mother, Xo, and her grandmother, Alba. The show’s beauty shines through its multigenerational approach. To pious Alba’s initial dismay, Xo had Jane out of wedlock at 16, and chose to raise her without a husband. While Alba did not see eye-to-eye with Xo, her love for Xo surpassed her disapproval. Although Alba and Xo share wildly different views on sanctity, chastity, marriage, and the values of feminism as a whole, they come together to raise Jane and support each other through the good and the bad. They may portray their strength in different ways, but neither puts the other down for her choices. These powerful women helped shape Jane into the woman she becomes and it is clear she looks up to both of them as role models.
What “Jane the Virgin” delivers excellently is its portrayal of Jane as independent, ambitious, and determined, both when she is in a relationship and when she is not. Too often, people give into the misconception that women can’t truly be strong and independent if they are in a relationship. Jane disproves that ignorance by consistently working hard to create a life for herself and her son without looking for validation from a man. She was prepared to raise her son, Mateo, alone, but welcomed her boyfriend’s help when he was equally as passionate, dedicated, and loving. Throughout the show, Jane is never forced into a relationship, and instead makes her own choices based on whether it is right for her at that point in time. Sometimes her choices lead to mistakes and sometimes they work out almost perfectly, as will happen in all complex humans’ lives, but they are all her own independent choices.
There is equal weight placed on Jane’s professional and personal life. After Mateo is born, Jane showers him with affection and care, while also maintaining her career at a local hotel and pursuing her dream of becoming a writer. She ensures that Mateo has the best care and upbringing possible and although she goes back to school with a heavy heart, she places a significant emphasis on her writing. All during her schooling, waitressing, and teaching, she is never perceived as a bad mother. She balances motherhood, her romantic life, family, and work because they all make up important spheres of her life.
“Jane” features a cast of predominantly Latina women, which is both necessary and refreshing as there is a lack of representation of women of color in the media. Feminism in the media can often solely be seen with white women, which is problematic as feminism should embody all races, ethnicities, sexualities, and cultures. “Jane the Virgin” offers a look into another culture and is helping to bring intersectional feminism to the forefront of modern television.
“Jane the Virgin” embodies feminism throughout all aspects of life, making it a perfect show to watch if you’re looking for a one-hour episode full of female empowerment.