Lunchtable TV Talk: Jane the Virgin

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I cannot count the times I nearly gave up on Jane the Virgin. When I get annoyed, somehow it reels itself back in. I can’t explain why – it’s not really my style. The overly theatrical craziness of the telenovela style doesn’t do much for me, which I suppose is why these kinds of shows (Jane the Virgin now and Ugly Betty a few years ago) bind themselves tightly with down-to-earth family stories that keep them from going completely off the rails. (Although all of the stories are crazy.)

The show routinely makes it onto a lot of year-end-best lists, and I can’t quite give it that level of approval. I keep watching, improbably, because most of the characters are likeable and when the show decides to ground certain things in reality (and there are remarkably few of these things), it goes all out. Jane’s struggles with new motherhood, for example, are pretty realistic. Her tiredness, her going days without taking a shower, the complete and exclusive concentration on her baby (to the detriment of her friendships) feel very real and well-timed (that is, her baby did not grow into a giant two-year-old boy in the course of half a season, and her struggles in each week’s episode feel well-paced enough to coincide with real milestones in her baby’s development and her development as a mother). Perhaps these are not reasons to keep watching a show, but there is definitely something compelling enough that I keep watching it while letting several other shows (such as, Empire) drift off my watch list.

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