Third-episode verdict: Jane The Virgin (US: The CW; UK: E4)

The BarrometerA Barrometer rating of 3

In the US: Mondays, 9/8c, The CW
In the UK: Acquired by E4. Will air in 2015

As I mentioned when I reviewed the first episode of Jane The Virgin, The CW’s adaptation of a telenovela about a miraculously inseminated young woman called Jane, there’s a right and a wrong way both to do diversity and to adapt telenovelas. And the first episode of the show was very much the right way to do it. A fun, clever meta little story, possessed of one of the best, most knowing narrators on TV, it knew what it was and played with the genre and convention to give us a wonderfully ludicrous piece of soapy fun.

The trouble from the show since then has been living up to the high standard of the first episode. Because knowing-soapiness is fun, but soapiness by itself can be a bit dull. While episode two redeemed itself in the final five minutes with some wonderfully exciting and bizarrely improbable twists, those five minutes sat at the end of an otherwise conventional bit of soap opera plotting. No moustache twirling, minimal “hey, I’m in a telenovela!” self-awareness and even the narration felt a bit limp.

Unfortunately, episode 3 continued this downward escape from escaping from reality, with a somewhat conventional attempt at farce and intrigue as Jane attempted to lose her virginity. The narrator did his best to salvage it, but overall you could have been watching a pretty standard soap opera and not noticed the difference.

When Jane The Virgin is good, it’s very, very good – a fun, knowing, innovative show for those who are fans of telenovelas and those who biggest exposure has been Ugly Betty. Unfortunately, more often than not, it’s a regular old soap opera running through plot lines and ideas that you’ll have seen before. To some extent, that familiarity will provide comfort to some telenovela fans, but to others – as indeed the ratings have borne out – it’ll be something of a turn-off.

I might stick with Jane, but telenovelas aren’t really my thing and it’s been harder to justify watching it. We’ll just have to see how it goes.

Barrometer rating: 3
Rob’s prediction: Will be lucky to last more than a season


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

    View all posts