Grace, strength and a little bit of sass make the women of fan favorite “Jane the Virgin” so special.
The show, which returns to the CW on Jan. 23, has been heralded for putting admirable, complex female characters in the spotlight.
Here are four of those characters from a series that mixes glorious telenovela components with elements of empathy, humanity and the reality of womanhood.
As a woman who’s constantly having to deal with life’s curveballs – accidentally getting inseminated, meeting her long-lost superstar father, falling in love with two perfect men – it’s amazing how Jane Villanueva has managed to keep it all together without losing herself. In everything that she does, Jane believes in staying true to her values. She sees the good in other people, she doesn’t compromise her beliefs and she pursues her goals with fervor.
Jane is also intelligent and hardworking. She’s been inquisitive since she was a little girl and continues to look at life from a critical lens. Despite having been in college for six years, she maintained her status as an honors student while working. And even after giving birth, she’s still pursuing her dreams of becoming a romance novelist while juggling the responsibilities of motherhood, marriage and work.
As an aspiring romance novelist, however, Jane’s character can be criticized as overly idealistic and dramatic. But what makes her so compelling is the way she handles these criticisms from the other characters on the show. Jane acknowledges and takes ownership of her optimism and is proud of it because she knows it’s an important aspect of her personality. Jane finds strength in her passions and feelings, inspiring audiences to do the same.
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Jane’s mother Xiomara can sometimes be dismissed as immature and irresponsible, but she’s truly an example of a diamond in the rough.
Despite growing up as a rebellious teenager who became a single mother at 17, nothing is more important to her than her family. Though she is still sometimes stubborn – especially when it comes to her mother Alba’s advice – she wants nothing more than to be a good mom to Jane and a good daughter to Alba. Her character has developed throughout the show as someone who is sacrificial and puts Jane’s needs and aspirations before her own. Xo is also constantly encouraging Jane to pursue her dreams, no matter how difficult it gets.
In fact, much of Jane’s tenacious character comes from Xiomara’s example. Xo is a woman who knows what she wants and doesn’t let other people’s judgments stop her. She’s proud of her sexual identity, her background as a single mom and her dreams to become a singer. And even when her aspirations changed, she still made sure to find a job that she was passionate about. With her family’s encouragement, Xo is on her way to opening her own dance studio.
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Alba Villanueva is, without a doubt, the heart and soul of the Villanueva family. She was introduced to the series as an intimidating and and God-fearing character, one who guilt-tripped Jane into her virgin lifestyle. Because of this, she remains the moral compass of the Villanueva household. But outside of that, Alba is also compassionate, loving and wise. Alba is the woman who Xiomara and Jane go to when they need clarity.
As someone who moved to America with her husband, Mateo, to start a new life from scratch, she is a pillar of strength. After Mateo’s passing, Alba has had to raise both Xo and Jane on her own and she’s done so gracefully and successfully. Thanks to Alba’s leadership and love, the three Villanueva women all know that they need to find strength in family to survive and thrive.
Aside from her admirable qualities, Alba is also a joy to watch because she’s also sometimes sassy, sarcastic and very opinionated.
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Petra Solano is more than the just the villain of the show. She’s cunning, resourceful and intelligent. She is a businesswoman who runs the Marbella in high heels, a pencil skirt and self confidence. She’s a hard worker and doesn’t get enough credit for the work she does to try and rectify the damage that was done to the hotel’s reputation.
Although she has, in fact, been heartless and conniving to the people around her, many of Petra’s choices are influenced by her feelings of indebtedness towards her mother. Petra grew up as a street performer from the Czech Republic who dated a criminal, Milos. The two then fled from her home country to escape him and with her mother’s help, Petra was able to thrive in America. Since then, Petra’s had to toughen up and learn how to take things for herself. Although she could use a couple lessons on morality from Jane, Petra’s strong will is an admirable trait.
And throughout the series, Petra also becomes a more likable character, one that people just want to be happy. Thanks to Jane’s constant need for answers, she delves deeper into Petra’s backstory and reveals to audiences her struggles while growing up in the Czech Republic, with a single mother and a violent ex-boyfriend.
Petra is also shown truly loving Rafael Solano, her ex-husband. She stood by him when he had cancer and continues to have a weak spot for him even after he fell for Jane. And one of the most respectable things is how she handled Rafael’s desire to get back with her after Jane rejected him. Although she loves him, she values herself enough to know that she’s nobody’s second choice.
“Jane the Virgin” is an accurate portrayal of womanhood. It shows how unfair and daunting the world can be for for women and what it takes for them to succeed. Sometimes women need to learn that it’s okay to be emotional, other times they need to be more reckless. But through it all, the most important lesson audiences can learn from the Villanueva family and sometimes even Petra, who is seen working on a relationship with Jane, is that women need other women.
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