Netflix (5 seasons)
Reviewed by Alan Bolwell

The television serial format, telenovela, is the Latino equivalent of soap-opera; with more passion, more drama, doppelgangers, long-lost twin siblings, lovers, rivals, mortal enemies, shootings, comas, amnesia, mysteries… and of course, cliff-hangers. All of these characterised by low budget productions and cult hero actors. 

The satirical romantic comedy drama is a loose adaptation of the Venezuelan telenovela Juana la Virgen created by Perla Farías. The series stars Gina Rodriguez as Jane Villanueva, a devout 23-year-old Latina virgin, who becomes pregnant after an accidental artificial insemination by her gynaecologist. 

Jane grows up watching telenovelas with her mother and her abuela*, unaware of her intimate relation to diva telenovela star Rogelio de la Vega! As a child Jane is terrified into chastity by her grandmother, who makes her crush a flower in her hand, which she keeps framed on her bedroom wall. Overlapping and outrageous twists and turns disrupt Jane’s carefully planned timeline on her way to become a published novelist. Hotelier, playboy and Jane’s boss, Rafael Solano has his world is turned upside-down when his wife Petra books an appointment to be artificially inseminated, and his sister, her gynaecologist, is having a bad day. 

Jane the Virgin is comfortably within its genre but has been given a generous budget, a fantastic acting cast, perfect screen-play and the best written script of any Netflix series. Although a parody, it never drifts too far or close to the 4th wall and has elements of magical realism woven through the thick plots twists. To be taken completely at face value. 

The fifth and final series is currently being released and the spiralling web of drama that issues forth from the opening episode is yet to be resolved. Expect narration, on-screen text, #hashtags, fabulous cameos, larger than life characters with larger still wardrobes. 

*Her maternal grandmother

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