After the historic peace summit between North & South Korea that could potentially end its decades-long war, it’s been an amazing week that gave me hope about this wretched world we live in. But that’s not the only wonderful thing that gave me joy this week. Inspired by NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour, let’s take a look at what’s making me happy this week.
Jane the Virgin always had a tricky balance to maintain, & almost every time it lands on its feet effortlessly. It shows the complicated lives of an intergenerational Latino family through the framework of a ludicrous telenovela, often with a self-aware grin in its face. On the surface, it may look like an uneasy compromise between two distinct tones, but it’s a smart way of adapting its source material into a different format, without losing its emotional potency nor its cultural roots; the show is adapted from a Venezuelan telenovela & the genre has deep Latin roots. The grounded aspects of the show allow to tell small-scale stories about families or tackle serious issues concerning class, sex, gender, & religion, while its usage of telenovela tropes heighten these stories in exciting, unpredictable ways without getting lost in the ridiculous plot.
And as it demonstrated during its Season 4 finale, this show still knows how to use one of the classic trademarks of a telenovela without ruining the whole show: the “classic Friday night cliffhanger.” The show has always relished in dropping huge revelations at the end of every episode, as is the norm, & this might be the biggest twist yet. Not only does it return to one of its main conflicts, it upends the show’s status quo that puts it in an exciting path once it returns this fall.
Just in case you haven’t seen it yet, there are spoilers for the Season 4 finale of Jane the Virgin.
You can always bookmark this post & return to it later.
If you haven’t seen a single episode of the show, now would be a great time to catch up.
This post will be here waiting for you.
This episode is already busy in typical Jane the Virgin fashion, but in an episode that revolves & is full of surprises – which includes Petra revealing she killed Anezka, Alba marrying Jorge, JR shooting Petra’s killer – they reveal that Michael has been alive this whole time!
If any other show pulled off this trick, it would seem like a cynical, calculated way to extend the show & a cruel trick to play at the audience; especially after we’ve seen Jane grieve Michael’s death for a season and a half.
But for four seasons, Jane the Virgin has proven it knows how to handle its ludicrous twists & turns without sacrificing character depth. After all, the show started with an accidental insemination of a young, Catholic virgin & the show got even more unbelievable as it went on. There have been kidnappings, scheming mothers, mysterious deaths, conspiracies, secret twins & so much more, but the show is always careful to examine how these shenanigans affect the vast ensemble.
It’s also one of the most tightly plotted shows in American television. It has foreshadowed this twist during throughout the fourth season without revealing its hand too early. Michael has often come up during the latter half of the season, & the show has dropped a few hints about where the show is headed for the next season, even using Rogelio’s quest to adapt Passions of Santos to American audiences; a character coming back from the dead is a classic telenovela trope that the show-within-a-show has used before, and it would be a shame for the show not to use it.
With the show supposedly ending after the fifth season, it’s a clever way for the show – as Jane herself noted – to return to the beginning. The love triangle between Jane, Rafael, & Michael has been one of the show’s main conflict generators, but this clearly will not be a rehash of their old dynamic. In Jane the Virgin, nothing stays the same for so long. Jane has finally opened her heart to the world after Michael’s death & Rafael is in a healthier place compared to where he was before, which opened up the possibility of romance between the two. Reviving Michael jeopardizes that, & it puts Jane at the center of an eternal question that’s bother: would you return to your past love or embrace the one right in front of you? Except this time, the former is someone who’s been mistakenly thought of as dead for 3 years.
Obviously, this won’t be resolved soon & the show will have a lot of fun untangling this bombshell without straying away from what made it great. I’m excited to find out where this will all end up, but the show’s unique blend ensures it’s going to be an entertaining, poignant ride.