A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Jane the Virgin is a dramedy that deals with mature sexual themes and touches on issues such as abortion and reproductive rights. Although her path to an unplanned pregnancy certainly bucks the norm (she's accidentally inseminated at a doctor's appointment after a celibate lifestyle), what stands out about Jane is her willingness to approach a difficult decision rationally and with consideration of others. Expect to see bedroom scenes that imply sex is to come or just occurred and others that imply oral sex and other contact that's not seen. Dialogue often includes terms such as "boned" as well as "hell" and "ass." On the plus side, Jane's family is a source of strength for her, and her predicament winds up bringing her closer to her mom.
What's the story?
From the moment her grandmother used a crumpled flower to impress upon her the importance of purity when she was 13, Jane Villanueva (Gina Rodriguez) has stuck to her guns on the issue of sex. Now in a committed two-year relationship with her boyfriend, Michael (Brett Dier), Jane is thinking that the end of her celibacy run might be on the horizon with an impending marriage proposal. But a twist of fate threatens her carefully laid plans when a mix-up at the doctor's office leads to her being artificially inseminated, and, despite the odds, she winds up pregnant. As Jane wrestles with the biggest decision of her life, she learns that the biological father of her child is none other than her boss, Rafael (Justin Baldoni), with whom she shared a heartfelt moment years ago and whose chances of having another child were dashed by a recent struggle with cancer. Rafael's self-centered wife, Petra (Yael Grobglas), had hoped getting pregnant would force Rafael to stay with her long enough to secure a big divorce payout, but a personal crisis distracted the attention of the doctor -- who just happens to be Rafael's sister -- just long enough for a mistake to throw a wrench into everyone's plans.
Is it any good?
If you think JANE THE VIRGIN sounds like the stuff of a titillating soap opera, then its creators have done their job well. The somewhat far-fetched premise is partially based on -- and arguably intended to poke a little fun at -- the Latin American telenovela, which makes it an unusual find on mainstream American TV. With plot twists and complicated character relationships (some in the open, and some hiding in the shadows), plus plenty of deceit and manipulation, this often-heartwarming dramedy is an intriguing find in primetime TV dominated by crime shows and reality contests.
That said, there's a lot to consider in gauging whether or not it's right for your teens. The content is laden with sexual themes even if there is a relative lack of visible skin. There's the accidental pregnancy, of course, and all the ethical issues that raises, as well as extramarital affairs among both heterosexual and homosexual couples. Then there's Jane's lifelong virginity, which is cast in a mostly positive light as far as values go but still causes issues in her relationship with her boyfriend, sending somewhat mixed messages to impressionable teens. Ultimately, though, Jane herself stands out as a beacon of goodness and morality in spite of what goes on around her. The bottom line? If your teens are ready for the implications of these mature themes, then this offbeat series will be a fun one for you to watch together.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about sexuality. How is celibacy portrayed in this series? Is it mocked, or does Jane come across as a positive model of its value? Is it a viable lifestyle choice for teens today? Why, or why not?
What messages do your teens get from TV shows, movies, and advertisements about sex? Does it ever feel as if "everyone's doing it"? Do their experiences with peers support or discredit that assumption?
This series raises the issues of abortion and reproductive rights without actually exploring them, but you can do so with your teens. What are your views on the subjects? What rights do you believe biological parents should have? How about surrogates? Do the current laws reflect your beliefs?
For kids who love dramedy
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