Jane The Virgin Shows The Right Way To Joke About Consent
Is Donald Trump involved? In fact, he is.
Jane Gloriana Villanueva has a lot to deal with in the latest episode of her titular show. She's got to try to keep Michael on track for his LSATs and law school interview, which isn't helped when she shares her concerns about how his plans are going to change their lives and rattles him, nor when she gives him an essential oil from her new yoga instructor to help him relax, only to give him a horrible allergic reaction that swells his eye shut. (They're fine.) She's also got to manage her anxiety over her first draft of her thesis project -- her novel -- but before she hands it in, she needs Alba, on whom the story is loosely based, to review it and tell her she's okay with the liberties she took. (She is -- in fact, she's very proud.) And she's got to temper her excitement about Rafael's plans to break up with Catalina. (It's a whole thing with her acting as a double agent for Petra: the upshot is that Petra is still traumatized from her waking coma -- she was just starting to bond with her daughters when Anezka initially knocked her out, and now the girls cry when they see her -- but the one thing she does have control over is helping Rafael preserve his fortune, which is why she shreds the addendum to his father's will to keep him from doing the right thing and getting it probated, possibly to his great financial detriment...except then Scott finds it and reassembles it as his insurance policy on the eve of his wedding to Anezka, and Rafael and Catalina amicably part anyway.) But in the midst of all this drama, the moment that stood out for me the most was brief, effective, and extremely timely.
In the midseason premiere, Rogelio figured out he had actual feelings for Darci -- or, rather, in the middle of his big nude scene, his penis did. In this episode, when he meets back up with Darci in her office, he claims he got over it, so she has to start putting the moves on him to prove he was lying: "OKAY, I HAVE A BONER...Not a physical boner, an emotional one! An emo-ner, if you will." Darci assumes that means their business arrangement to have a child together has to be abandoned, but he suggests that maybe a child could happen "the old-fashioned way": "Can't we go on a date? See where this leads?" Reluctantly, Darci agrees to one date.
"Along with a lot of other things," adds the narrator. Darci agrees.
You may recall that, around a month after the season premiere aired, Jane The Virgin creator Jennie Snyder Urman gave an interview in which she detailed how she'd rewritten a scene from the episode in response to the news about then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. In a flashback to Jane and Michael's very early courtship, the idea was for him to kiss Jane for the first "real" time by grabbing her and surprising her with a kiss. But post-Trump, that wasn't going to work anymore. "I felt so uncomfortable with any gray area in terms of consent....Those little symbols [of male aggression and lack of consent] are dangerous right now in terms of what we're talking about and what we're faced with." Instead, Michael asks Jane, "Let me kiss you again, sober," and Jane demonstrates consent, clearly and enthusiastically, by kissing him. According to Urman: "My responsibility is to make sure that we’re not confusing things...or adding to the problem."
While I was watching this episode air live -- and impressed once again by the matter-of-fact way the show has integrated politics into this story the way it's done all along, including during the Obama years, with grim but accurate portrayals of how cruel the system can be for undocumented immigrants, for instance -- news was happening. News hasn't stopped happening since the very Donald Trump who has ruined romance for Rogelio was inaugurated, eleven days ago that feel like eleven years. I barely had a chance to admire the valor of Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates for stating that the Department of Justice would not oppose challenges to the Executive Order Trump signed Friday (...at 4:42 PM) that, no matter what he calls it, is pretty clearly a ban on Muslims entering this country than I saw that, actually, Trump had fired her (and issued an appalling, unprofessional statement about it). While Jane The Virgin was proving that no one in fictional Miami has forgotten Trump's sexual predations, he continues stalking through the real republic like an orange T. Rex, laying waste to all our institutions with his tiny, clumsy hands.
But my point is not to say we're all doomed -- even though it's impossible to be aware of the world since the election and not feel like it's on fire. Things have been VERY BAD, and there's no reason to think the next ten things the White House announces it plans to do are going to be any better, particularly if this prediction turns out to be true. (It was denied by an official earlier this evening BUT THEN AGAIN THEY ALSO DENY THE EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE OF COMPARABLE INAUGURATION CROWD SIZES SO HONESTLY WHO KNOWS.)
But! It's important to look around the very same world that's on fire and see the people putting it out. In one weekend, people who believe in justice sextupled the total dollar amount of donations the ACLU usually gets in a year. (Been meaning to get on that? Let me help!) Ordinary people who care about this country and don't want it lost to fascism (and yes, we're at the point where that term is no longer hysterical) are protesting this administration all over -- not just the "coastal elites" Fox News would try to claim, but in Birmingham and Cleveland and Boise. This is a man with horrible intentions, surrounded by a coterie of ghouls, and they're doing a lot of scary, hideous shit. If they'd slow-played it or even TALKED TO ONE LAWYER before printing out orders for him to sign, they might be getting away with it. But they're not: we're not letting them.
Which leads me back to this show, and this moment, because it is kind of unfortunate that even Rogelio -- a legendary lover of women, who surely never mistook any partner's desire -- can't make an impetuous romantic gesture. But what the exchange also underscores is that current events made even Rogelio -- a legendary idiot, if a very lovable one -- re-evaluate the assumptions on which his life rested and made positive changes. It happened as the result of an absolute horror, but it did happen: he was awakened to his responsibilities as a man, just as we all have been awakened to our responsibilities as citizens. The episode's reminder of the person who's trying to destroy America sticks out, a little uncomfortably, in the middle of our sweet escapist story. But we can't afford to forget that it's a post-Trump world, and we can be relieved that Rogelio's on the right side, with us.