Believe the hype, everyone: “Jane the Virgin” is all kinds of fabulous. The title’s a bit embarrassing to say in public and the premise sounds (and is) absurd — but that doesn’t mean you’re not going to fall head-over-heels in love with it at first watch. From the superlatively awesome ensemble cast, to the innovative, telenovela-inspired plotting, there’s just no way around it: You’re going to love it, and here are seven reasons why.
1. The Acting
Gina Rodriguez really is every bit as good as everyone says she is (and then some) — and she’s not the only ultra-talented person on the show. Hopefully without sounding too sickly sweet, the main cast is each perfect in their own way, and there are some pretty kick-ass guest stars as well (Rita Moreno’s set to cameo as Rogelio’s mother in “Chapter 18,” so buckle your seatbelts).
2. The Satire
The tightrope this show walks between satire, self-satire, and earnest drama never ceases to amaze: One minute, they’re watching a telenovela, the next they’re in one (literally) — then, five minutes later, evil twins appear and/or someone gets impaled on an ice sculpture of Merlin (no, really). It’s a rollercoaster of genres all centrifuged into the most delicious banana daquiri you ever had.
Earlier this month, the game-changing episode “Chapter 12” showcased the show’s telenovela convention/telenovela mocking to most glorious effect yet: The show cut back and forth between a dramatic stabbing on the set of “The Passions of Santos” and a dramatic throat-slitting back at the Mirabella Hotel (both happened to be fake, by the way), all while the narrator capably navigated the turbulence between the two “telenovelas.” It was like an Escherian, Gordian knot of satire and meta satire — and that’s all to say, it was very, very cool and even more satisfying.
3. The Love Triangle
Love triangles are notoriously hard to pull off, but “Jane the Virgin” is doing it all but flawlessly. You’ll think your heart — ahem, Jane’s heart, of course — is set on one man, and just when you’re hearing the wedding bells in the distance, the other suitor makes a surprise resurgence. Is it a coincidence that just when we were really starting to settle in with Jane’s Perfect Boyfriend/Baby Daddy Rafael, the show reminds us that her Ex-Fiancé Detective Michael is ultra sensitive, loyal, charming and witty — and a good detective to boot? And that all of this is happening as Rafael just made his shadiest move to date? I think not: “Jane the Virgin” keeps us on our toes — and the show might make it look easy, but it’s not.
4. The Family Aspect
At its core, “Jane the Virgin” is a show about family. Forget the fact that Jane’s a pregnant virgin, or that people are getting murdered willy-nilly — the familial relationships are even more (if that’s possible) compelling than the romantic ones. The AV Club hit the nail on the head when they called the show “an unconventional love story” centered on its multi-generational matriarchy — Jane, her mother Xiomara and her grandmother Alba are quite the ride-or-die family unit. Add in a lovely moment when Jane calls her long-estranged father Rogelio “Dad” for the first time (I may or may not have cried just a little), and you’ve got yourself some truly compelling stuff.
5. The Narrator
Never has an omniscient narrator been used to such glorious effect. People liken “Jane the Virgin” to “Arrested Development” in terms of its creative-narrator quotient, and that might just be the best way to describe it: Basically, he’s got some sass to spare and a gossipy investment with every single plotline on the show. And not only is the “Latin Lover Narrator” (as he was originally nicknamed on IMDb) utterly fabulous, the show also has an innovative take on the intersection of onscreen text (plus the occasional well-deployed emoji) and narration — it’s hard to explain it in a way that gives it its due credit for just how genius it is.
6. The Intrigue
Like any good soap opera, “Jane the Virgin” knows its way around a good cliffhanger (there’s a reason why each episode ends with the ever-frustrating words “To Be Continued” stamped across the screen). In a way, everything else else on this list is just gravy — because the crazy, twisty-turny plots would keep you tuning in week after week, regardless. The show’s like the best form of addiction (albeit a crippling one that causes withdrawal symptoms) ever.
And last but not least?
7. The Pretty
Pretty setting. Pretty clothes. Pretty, pretty (really pretty) people.
Just watch it, okay? You won’t be sorry.
“Jane the Virgin” airs Mondays at 9pm PST.