In praise of the fabulous female characters on ‘Jane the Virgin’

You know what the best kinds of TV shows are? The ones that surprise you. The ones that literally pick you up, sweep you off your feet, and leave you with a rush of feel-good emotions every time you sit down to watch. Jane the Virgin is one of those shows for me. Rather than binge Jane the Virgin I parse out the episodes slowly, I want to make them last.

There are so many reasons I love the series, but the biggest draw for me is the women. They include the incredibly endearing heroine, Jane Gloriana Villanueva, as well as her mother Xiomara and her grandmother Alba — not to mention the slightly less honorable characters like Petra, Luisa, and Rose.

The women on the show are layered, complicated, and make choices we wouldn’t necessarily expect — just like real women. Their struggles feel real and relatable, even when they’re intertwined with the crazy telenovela devices that make this series tick.

If you’ve been waffling over whether or not to start watching Jane the Virgin, let me just say that there’s no time like the present to start — especially since it’s already been renewed for a second season. If you’re looking for a few more reasons why you should dive in, look no further. Here are just a few reasons why the women of the show make Jane the Virgin one of my favorites, and one that makes me oh-so-happy to be a woman.

They prove that sometimes the best support system is made up of other women.

When Jane was growing up, she never knew who her real father was. Granted, this was part of a secret her mother had kept from her in the hopes that she would eventually be ready to know the truth. But it also meant that Jane had her mother Xo and her grandmother Alba — who also lives with them — to lend an open ear, a word of advice or even a token of wisdom. There was no man in the house, and they made it work with three women. The Villanueva women are a beautiful example of how women can support each other, and though they might fight occasionally as families tends to do — there are just some things that only another woman will understand.

They know the importance of following your dreams.

For as long as she could remember, Jane wanted to be a writer. Sure, over the course of her life she might have gotten a little sidetracked in jobs like waitressing or teaching — but when it comes to her true passion, writing has always held the number one spot. When she realizes that her life is going to be changed forever after she gives birth to Rafael’s baby, she decides there’s no time like the present to pursue her goal. Jane is a perfect example of those of us who inevitably realize that we can’t shuffle our feet when it comes to setting out to do what we’ve always dreamed of doing.

They’re a good example of the fact that people are more than what you see on the surface.

Take Petra. When the show first starts, it’s clear that she’s only being portrayed in a certain light. It would be easy to dismiss her as a shallow, narrow-minded gold-digger who is only interested in furthering her own well-being. As time goes on, the audience is quickly brought to realize that her motives are not entirely unjustified. She’s dealing with a stage-five clinger of an ex-boyfriend, a manipulative mother and a failing marriage — and all of a sudden part of you can’t help but root for her. You can’t dismiss someone after a first impression, Petra is proof.

They represent the importance of self-sacrifice when it comes to family.

Jane’s mother, Xiomara, gave birth to her at a young age — and while she and Jane have always been very close (as evidenced by their frequent gab sessions), Xiomara is set adrift by the news that Jane plans to have her own baby and effectively start a family with Rafael. Xiomara supports her daughter but knows how hard it is to be a single mom. Never once does she regret her decision — the show makes that clear — but Xiomara is a great symbol of the daily sacrifice that single mothers have to make as the sole parent in a child’s life. It’s also incredibly refreshing to see that kind of mother-daughter relationship represented on screen in a way we really haven’t seen since the years of Gilmore Girls.

And they encourage us to dance whenever possible.

Because you should never underestimate the value of a good dance party.

So thank you to the women of Jane the Virgin, we love watching your stories and we love the messages you send.

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