“Jane the Virgin” has consistently delivered complex and diverse characters leading its storylines: Latino/a, women, men, queer, old, and young. However, their queer characters, Rose and Luisa, are both highly unstable, and for the most part, highly unhappy. Their love often appears to be toxic. Rose, an international crime lord, may love Luisa, but makes her an accomplice in crimes and pits her against her family. Luisa will question Rose’s motives for putting her through so much heartbreak and difficulty, but Rose always comes back to the “but, I love you” excuse. Although they lead impressive and multi-layered plotlines full of twists and turns, the lack of stability and happiness combined with clear toxicity in their lives is problematic. For a show so well in tune with inclusivity and representation, it is long overdue for “Jane” to feature a stable, queer character in a healthy relationship. In this past week’s episode of “Jane the Virgin,” the show brought on this plotline: Jane discovers her now steady boyfriend, Adam, is bisexual.
Lina, Jane’s best friend, comes to town with her fiancé, Danny, for their engagement party, where Danny and Adam question why they find each other so familiar. After searching through mutual friends on Facebook, Danny pulls up a photo of their mutual friend, saying “you two dated, right?” Obviously, Jane rushes over to see Adam’s ex, exclaiming that the girl in the photo is really pretty. Nonchalantly, Adam responds that his ex is not the girl, but the guy in the photo. The screen pans to a shocked Jane trying to play down her concern. Of course, it wouldn’t be “Jane” if this discovery did not come with deeper conversations about the misconceptions surrounding bisexuality.
Adam has brought excitement, love, affection, and laughter ever since coming into Jane’s life. His determination in proving that he will care for both Mateo (Jane’s son) and Jane makes him an instant favorite in fans’ eyes. Despite his unending attention for her, Jane spends the rest of the episode wondering if Adam is eyeing any man with which they come into contact. Growing up in a strictly Catholic household, Jane may still have those “traditional” ideas in her head despite what she wants to believe. Her fascination with romance novels, featuring the heteronormative hero and heroine may also play into her initial inability to come to terms with her boyfriend’s bisexuality.
Adam understandably becomes annoyed with Jane’s paranoia, but encourages her to get all of her concerns and misconceptions out in the open so he can debunk them. As Jane apologizes, the show uses the opportunity to shine a light on bisexuality and the common closed-minded responses that it can provoke. Jane initially tries to defend her paranoia by claiming that she cannot truly understand Adam, as she would never be attracted to another woman. Adam explains that her “never” statement may be problematic, as sexuality can be a spectrum; it is not necessarily strictly defined for some individuals. After an episode of fiddling around with her insecurities, Jane confronts Adam with some stereotypical questions, such as: Is his bisexuality going to lead to him coming out as gay? No, obviously not; he is just open to feeling a romantic connection with both men and women. He is not a closeted gay, afraid of “coming out completely.” Importantly, he reassures Jane that his openness to romantic relationships with men in no way lessens his feelings for her, a woman. She gives to him what no one else can, regardless of gender. If she wasn’t insecure in their relationship when she thought he was straight, there is no reason to be jealous or insecure now knowing that he is bisexual.
Through Jane, we see a character who may echo our family members, friends, or even ourselves: the progressive and open-minded liberal in theory, who must confront her own prejudices and assumptions when actually put to the test. Although Jane’s questions may seem like one of those show ploys meant to teach audiences an obvious lesson (and in a way, it is), “Jane” delivers the message in a meaningful and appropriate way. Misconceptions around bisexuality still abound, which is why representing bisexual characters on screen in an in-depth and meaningful way is so important. With Adam, we see a loving, fun guy who feels comfortable in his sexuality and does not find it defines his identity. His relationship with Jane is supportive, stable, and full of affection. As “Jane” continues with this storyline, I hope we see a greater depth in the arc of Adam’s story. Representation is best executed when there is a deeper look into the character’s life and an emphasis on telling the character’s stories.