Jane The Virgin Gets A Bachelorette Alter Ego
And she sure seems to be having a lot more fun than Mom Jane!
A dramedy like Jane The Virgin wouldn't work if it didn't have, at its centre, a very gifted comic actress. Gina Rodriguez obviously fits that description -- just ask the Hollywood Foreign Press Assocation -- but often the telenovela aspects of Jane have her playing more tragic notes than comedic ones. That certainly was true in the season premiere, in which Jane had to panic about her challenges with breastfeeding and the effect that might have on Mateo's development, after panicking about his having been briefly kidnapped -- you know, typical new-mom stuff. So, given what a rough time Mom Jane has been having, it's a relief and a fun surprise that the latest episode introduces a fantasy alter ego for Jane who gets to have a lot more fun, and be a lot more fun. Welcome, Bachelorette Jane!
Now that the imminent danger for Mateo has passed, Jane has calmed down enough to be able to hear Xiomara when she suggests that Jane get a little more ambitious with her time than merely keeping herself and her baby alive: that means taking a shower, putting on clothes that fasten, leaving the house ("What if he gets hungry?" "Your boobs come with you!"), and maybe thinking about addressing the fact that she's got two guys on the hook at the moment and might need to decide which of them she wants, or whether what she wants is neither. A true love triangle is probably something that happens a lot more often on TV than it does in real life, and since this show is nothing if not self-aware...
...it's fitting that this episode portrays Jane's indecision by creating an incarnation of her who, like The Bachelorette, doesn't have anything else on her mind except narrowing her choices down to the man she's going to marry...or, at least, be engaged to for a while. In a succession of dazzling cocktail dresses, always with her champagne flute in hand, Bachelorette Jane treats Rafael and Michael as contestants and putting them through classic Bachelorette tests. Which will make a better showing on the two-on-one date? Which is there for the right reasons? And since this is Jane The Virgin, Jane's "overnight date" takes place in a fantasy suite...which Rafael has outfitted with Target's entire baby department -- which, I have to say, is much more in line with my personal fantasies than spending even a coffee date with either of the last two bros Kaitlyn Bristowe ended up with this summer, never mind a night.
The Jane we've come to know over these twenty-four episodes is a Type-A preparer who wants to do everything right and make her mom and grandmother proud of her (and if that last part wasn't true, she might not still live up to her titular...uh, title). But Bachelorette Jane can be as self-involved and boy-crazy as Mom Jane is sensitive and practical. When Bachelorette Jane cries in the mirror, it's because she's pretending to be telegenically torn between her Bachelors for the sake of a confessional; Mom Jane, on the other hand, has just learned that her baby's kidnapper could have any face and sneak up on her to menace Mateo again without Jane's having any warning, and is understandably having nightmares about it. Mom Jane has suffered actual trauma in the recent past and may face genuine peril in the near future: no wonder she's conjured a fantasy version of herself whose biggest problem is narrowing down the field of men who want to be her boyfriend. Would the episode have been more satisfying if Mom Jane hadn't copped out and told Michael and Rafael that she's (improbably) in love with both of them? Sure, but this isn't a verité drama; it's a telenovela. The romantic storyline can't get resolved in the season's second episode -- hell, Xiomara and Rogelio are still figuring out their situation and they're actually married.
A whole series about Bachelorette Jane would, like the actual Bachelorette, get grating pretty fast. But this visit from Bachelorette Jane is a treat, and even if it was only for a single episode, I'm happy we got to share a little of her journey.