Considering the vastly improved representation of minorities on network TV this season—Empire, Black-ish, Cristela, Fresh Off the Boat, How to Get Away with Murder—it isn’t altogether surprising that the most delightful, dynamic, dimensional character to grace the small screen at present has emerged from the freshman pack. What did catch me off guard, I’ll be big enough to admit, is that it was the least likely character on the last show I expected.
After nearly a decade of identity crisis, anemic ratings, and critical indifference, The CW, bastion of star-crossed supernatural romance and small-screen superheroics, scored its first Golden Globe win this season—for an adaptation of a Venezuelan telenovela, no less: Jane the Virgin.
Jane offers something a little different than its Big Network counterparts—something harder to categorize: deftly written dramedy that concurrently satirizes and honors its telenovela heritage, complete with idiosyncratic flourishes like a whimsical narrator and on-screen text commentary. Some of its characters, like Jane’s father, telenovela superstar Rogelio de la Vega (portrayed by Mexican actor Jaime Camil), are as consciously absurd as the series’ plot twists. Yet in spite of his ostensible function as straight-faced comic relief, an analysis of Rogelio’s five traits shows him to be a case study in psychological complexity and originality.