Grab the tissues. The final season of “Jane the Virgin” will bring the waterworks, showrunner Jennie Snyder Urman promised at the show’s farewell panel at the Television Critics Association press tour on Thursday.
“I cry a lot in the editing room, if that’s any indication,” Snyder Urman said about pulling together the fifth and final season of The CW series that was based on a telenovela. She added that someone once described the soapy format as a “pornography of emotion” and “That crystalized in my mind that you juice it to the max. We will go through all the feels this last season.”
“Jane the Virgin” premiered on The CW in 2014, cementing the network as one of the best places on broadcast at the time to find female-led programming both in front of and behind the cameras with the “Vampire Diaries” franchise, and “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” and “Supergirl” joining the mix later. In some ways, “Jane the Virgin” felt like the spiritual descendant of ABC’s “Ugly Betty,” another telenovela adaptation starring a Latina actress leading a diverse cast.
Over its five years, “Jane the Virgin” hewed close to its telenovela roots, beginning with its ridiculous premise: Aspiring writer and titular virgin Jane Villanueva (Gina Rodriguez) is artificially inseminated by accident, which leads to whirlwind set of events: shocking deaths, a love triangle, secret twins, and fake identities, just to name a few. In the most recent season’s finale, Jane’s husband Michael (Brett Dier) who died three years earlier, was revealed to actually be alive. To quote the show’s ubiquitous narrator, “Straight out of a telenovela, right?” However, the show balanced these melodramatic elements with plenty of heartwarming and thoughtful moments when it addressed immigration, abortion, and other hot-button issues with care.
Going into the final season, Snyder Urman will tackle the resulting love triangle created by Michael’s arrival, since Jane built a relationship with Rafael (Justin Baldoni), the biological father of her child, in the intervening years. Although the showrunner is keeping most of the final season’s storyline under wraps, she did reveal a few broad strokes. She wants to bring the show full circle to remind viewers of how far Jane had come. That means echoing visual elements — such as Jane wearing a yellow dress when she first proposed to Michael — and using that to contrast how much the characters changed over five years.
“I want to push it. I want to have it all and land these big family moments,” she said. “I want to say goodbye in the right way and stick the landing. That’s a lot of pressure.”
In 2016, The CW told Snyder Urman that it was interested in running the show as long as there was story to be told. At this point, she went to her star to propose a total of five years. Rodriguez agreed, and Snyder Urman began to lay the groundwork to lead to the final emotional season.
Rodriguez joined Snyder Urman on stage and in tears. She reflected on how “Jane the Virgin” was her big break, and how she was lucky to be on a show that will achieve the complete vision brought by a woman. She also said that she learned just being a role model on the show was not enough.
“What I realized was that the reflection of me was not where the power lied,” she said. “I had to shift my energy … to create change in a positive way. Jennie taught me how to create opportunity.”
For Rodriguez, she wants to make these opportunities by being the creative force — the producer or director. So far, she’s directed episodes on “Jane the Virgin” and will tackle some episodes for the upcoming spinoff, “Jane the Novela,” an anthology series that will relate stories that author Jane Villanueva has written. Rodriguez will also reprise her role of Jane, but this time as narrator.
“I love directing,” she said. “I love storytelling so much. It’s always so cathartic. When I look at an actor like Yael [Grobglas] in front of my camera, I don’t know joy like that.”
”Jane the Virgin” returns for its fifth and final season on March 27 on The CW.