Cinephile's Thoughts

How Jane the Virgin loves telenovelas

Telenovela, a synonym for drama, chaos and action full of surprises and unconventional twists. Jane the Virgin is a modern tribute to telenovelas: funny and at the same time making fun of this type of TV format. Why? Well, if you didn’t see it, don’t read this post, it’s full of spoilers. If you did see it, let’s explore it together.

In a classical telenovela, there are always three people involved in a love triangle: a nice, innocent and pretty girl (pretty, not sexy, it’s very important), a decent guy (handsome but average) and a hot, rich second guy who in the beginning always behaves like a jerk. This is also why he needs our main female character: to change his attitude and stop being an asshole. Jane is our main female character who doesn’t know who she should choose to be with: Michael, her current and nice fiancé or a sexy and rich Rafel who’s a father of her future child. Why did it happen that she’s pregnant with Rafael even though she’s engaged? No, she didn’t cheat and yes, it could be cheating because it’s a very common telenovela situation. She was just accidently inseminated with Rafael’s sperm. That’s called a real telenovela suprise, isn’t it? And it happened already in a first episode!

So, love triangle is not the only core point of each telenovela: there’s always a rich and sexy woman, in our case it’s Petra. She chases after a rich guy because she doesn’t want her enemy, the nice girl, to get the rich guy. Do you still follow? It’s sometimes complicated to know who’s with who but the main point doesn’t change: our main female hero needs to choose between Michael or Rafael.

In order to make it harder, a new characters are introduced as soon as the old problems are solved and our heroes face a life which one could compare to a rollercoaster. The events are absurd, like the one in which Jane finds out that her father is a well-known telenevola star. Such twists are also important for us as the audience: they happen always whenever we think that nothing can surprise us more.

The actors. Their acting in the telenovelas is weird. Well, it always depends on the actors and in some real Latin American telenovelas there are unfortunatelly some really bad ones. The other ones, the one which do know how to act, are simply exaggerating in their acting. Jane the Virgin enhances it perfectly. Everyone here is overreacting and the perfect example of that is Jaime Camil as Rogelio. Rogelio is a telenovela star and in his life, he also behaves like a star: making drama from everything, sometimes taking too much care about how he looks and how many Twitter followers he has. Sometimes he also shows his sensitive part, for example by making a video for Jane’s first Mother Day or by organising his daughter’s wedding. The same way like in each telenovela we ca also watch very emotional scenes.

Why is Jane the Virgin a tribute to the telenovelas? Because it takes all the most outragous charateristics of a usual telenovela and uses them in a modern and funny way. Voice over very often comments the situations as typical for this kind of TV format. Or it describes very carefully Rafael’s overreaction and thus refers also to the stereotypical reaction of real telenovela characters. Moreover, telenovelas are typical for Spanish speaking countries and although Jane the Virgin takes place in the USA, Jane’s grandmother speaks only in Spanish. And only she. Even if one wonders how come that she understands Jane’s English, the audience accepted it. Abuela speaking Spanish, the voice over commenting situations, funny descriptions of the characters which normally in a real telenovela would have been taken really seriously or lot of hastahgs, referring to a current trend of posting on Instagram. Jane the Virgin on one hand makes fun of Latin American soap operas, on the other hand, it just takes the best out of them.

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