Jennie Snyder Urman's CW romantic dramedy and satirical telenovela ends its five-season run tonight with its 99th and 100th episodes. "If one were to crowd-source a prestige TV show from scratch, it would look nothing like Jane the Virgin," says Alison Herman. "Since the late 1990s, viewers have been trained to expect quality from dozen-episode seasons airing on premium cable; Jane is an old-school broadcast series on the CW, churning out 20-plus episodes a year. 'Serious' shows are supposed to be, well, serious; Jane is a lighthearted dramedy based on a Venezuelan telenovela, both cribbing from and commenting on the genre’s many tropes. TV’s current era began with the stories of misbehaving men; Jane is an unabashedly female show, from its cast to its influences, about decent people striving to do good. And yet Jane concludes a five-season, hundred-episode run on Wednesday as an award-winning, critically acclaimed, emotionally rewarding triumph. In a landscape that prizes novelty as a means to break through the noise, Jane exemplifies one of TV’s most underrated, and deceptively difficult, virtues: consistency. For half a decade, Jane has struck a balance between larger-than-life antics and human-scale storytelling, clever self-awareness and genuine sweetness, affable humor and deep feeling—all while avoiding traditional sources of drama."
Jane the Virgin stealthily became one of the most organically political, feminist and relevant shows in recent years: "The ludicrous premise is a Trojan horse for the empathetic handling of themes of intimacy, grief, parenthood, sexuality, financial hardship, identity and the immigrant experience, all told through the voices of the women of color," says Rachael Sigee. "The strokes may look broad but they are as finessed as they come – and the very existence of Jane is as inherently provocative as anything in Black Mirror or The Handmaid’s Tale. More overtly political television responds to the real world burning by heightening our worries to ghoulish proportions. Jane the Virgin responds by tackling complex issues from unexpected angles: plots about abortion, postnatal depression or the grief of losing a partner don’t necessarily happen to the characters you might expect. There is probably more sex content in Jane than Game of Thrones, but it is delivered through the lens of its female characters, who talk about their desires, bodies and fantasies with each other and their partners. What other show would depict a granddaughter helping her grandmother get back in touch with her sexuality by going shopping for the perfect vibrator?"
Jane the Virgin tackled Latinx issues without being too outright educational: "Whereas shows taking on large, timely Latinx issues can sometimes feel too on the nose — think One Day at a Time’s Elena who teeters on being a caricature of social justice activists — Jane the Virgin felt organic, letting its characters come to conclusions that feel honest and appropriate," says Paola de Varona. "The show’s creators weren’t here to teach the audience about Latinxs and the way they live; they just wanted to tell you Jane and her family’s story."