The Unicorn Scale: Jane The Virgin

5/27/2018

A few hours ago I finished binging season 4 of Jane The Virgin on Netflix. If you haven’t been introduced to this reimagining of a telenovela you are missing out. The show has everything: over the top storylines, long lost twins, surprise pregnancies, backstabbing, murder, people back from the dead, love triangles (and all kinds of other shapes), and whatever other crazy soap opera trope you can think of. Today I’m going to unpack some small part of this awesome show, mostly focusing on season 4. In true Unicorn Scale fashion, we are going to mostly look at the bi stuff, you can read more about that here.

Spoilers ahead:

Jane The Virgin starts out with the story of Jane Villanueva, an aspiring teacher with a 5 year plan who is saving her virginity for her future husband. In a crazy mix up, she ends up artificially inseminated with the sperm of her long ago crush, wealthy hotelier, Rafael.

If you haven’t seen the show, just hang in there, yes the story is insane, but it’s also strangely charming.

For many seasons there are a variety of love triangles involving Jane, Rafael, and virtually ever other character in the show. Jane decides to quit saving herself for marriage, has the child, is married, is widowed, and writes a romance novel. At the beginning of season 4 Jane is the single mother of a five year old who is finally ready to date again.

What I Liked:

So much!

This is one of the most sex-positive shows I have seen. It isn’t raunchy or explicit, but we get to follow Jane’s journey as she learns to accept the sexual side of herself. She realizes that maybe her hyper-Catholic grandmother, Alba, was wrong and that sex was neither scary nor evil. Alba compared her virginity to a beautiful flower, once you crumple it up it will never be as beautiful again.

In the show, sex isn’t always magical, chemistry doesn’t cure everything. At one point Jane needs to talk to her boyfriend Michael about her desires, how to bring her to orgasm, and what doesn’t work for her. And it works! We actually see two adult people admit that sometimes you need to communicate with your partner about your desires. Sex doesn’t cure everything, end every argument, make people realize their long lost love, it can be messy, phones ring, muscles cramp, people walk in, and it’s all okay in the end.

It also isn’t precious. Sex isn’t true love. People fall in lust, sometimes they act on it, sometimes they don’t. That’s okay too.

Sex isn’t limited by age. In season 4, Jane finds out that her grandmother refused to marry a man she loved because she was worried that her body had changed too much to be intimate with a man. Jane took her grandmother to a sex shop, bought her lube, and bought her a vibrator. Although she was initially embarrassed, she also used them.

This is a show full of women who know what they like sexually and are not afraid of their own sexuality. They help each other have better lives and they realize that a healthy sex life is a part of a fulfilled life.

Now to the bi stuff. Season 4 introduced a new boyfriend for Jane named Adam. They had been high school sweethearts, he left her at the altar, there was of course intrigue, and they reconnect at the beginning of season 4.

Jane and Adam

After dating for a while,  Jane finds out that Adam has an ex-boyfriend. When she asked why Adam hadn’t told her that he was bi, he admitted that it was because whenever he’s come out in the past it made his partners get “weird.” Jane immediately becomes paranoid that he is constantly checking out men and starts acting predictably weird. She even tries putting the moves on her best friend, maybe Jane’s a little bi too. She claims that the strange behavior is because he had been keeping secrets from her, not because of his bisexuality. She later admits that she was also thrown by his bisexuality.

Adam eventually sits her down and explains that he is bi and not ashamed of it, but that he is currently in a relationship with Jane. Just like a straight man in a monogamous relationship wouldn’t go hit on other women, a bi man in a monogamous relationship isn’t going to hit on men or women. He’s monogamous, that’s the point.

Even though their relationship doesn’t work out in the end. It doesn’t fall apart because of Adam’s sexuality. I am so happy this story was in here though. I’ve had so many bi men tell me they are afraid to be honest about their sexuality when they are dating women. They are afraid that women will think that they are promiscuous or secretly gay, but they also don’t want to hide an essential part of themselves from their potential partners. The question of when to tell my date I’m bi is a big one without any easy answers. It was wonderful to watch this couple work through his fears and her discomfort together without denying that this can be a real obstacle for bi men and their female partners.

But it wasn’t just about Adam. Season 4 also has Petra in a relationship with her lawyer Jane Ramos (JR). Petra has been portrayed as a powerful, manipulative, ice queen throughout the show. Although she did really love Rafael in previous seasons, she was always careful to be perceived as strong.

With JR, she is insecure and giggly. It’s wonderful to see her character have a crush. There is actually very little to write about this relationship because it is so natural. Yes there’s the insane drama of a telenovela, but JR doesn’t think that Petra’s faking it, Petra seems pretty comfortable with her attractions, and JR is introduced to Petra’s children without any major mishaps. In fact Petra’s relationship with JR is seen as a fairly normal (for Jane the Virgin) relationship.

What I Didn’t Like:

Rose Solano (aka Sin Rostro)

Before season 4 the only bi character had been Rose, a promiscuous, untrustworthy bi woman who uses her sexuality to manipulate those around her. She fulfills almost every evil bi trope. However it is a show that is inspired by telenovelas and many of it’s characters are caricatures. I am much less bothered by Rose now that there are other bi characters represented on the show as well.

The Rating:

If I had 100 unicorns to give I would. Television has more and more bi characters on it, which is awesome, but bi men are still a rarity. Adam was a great bi guy discussing actual issues bi men face, the show represents human sexuality in amazing ways, and it was so much fun to see Petra get giggly over anyone.

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Talia Squires
Talia Squires is Editor-in-chief of bi.org. Talia has a degree in German Literature from Bryn Mawr College and a Master's in Critical Studies from the USC School of Cinematic Arts. She's obsessed with good food, fantastic wine, and trashy television. She lives in LA with her husband and fluffy Lhasa Apso.