Storytelling and Jane the Virgin

There’s a plethora of viewing options out there today, and sometimes, it’s overwhelming. In addition to my books that I love, not to mention my family and friends that I want to see, do I binge on the new season of House of Cards, catch up on Scandal, or settle for watching the umpteenth Republican Debate?

Especially when there are such serious drama series out there, I’m going to put in a plug for Jane the Virgin. I could ramble on about several reasons why, but for the purposes of this blog, I’m going to focus on – you guessed it – the storytelling. Jane the Virgin uses five key storytelling techniques in order to captivate their audience, and it’s fascinating to see.

  • Spoof – The whole show is a spoof on the traditional Latin telenovela. It pokes fun at this spin on the soap opera, and many of the events are over-dramatized on purpose. You would think this would get old, but it doesn’t. The show manages to do this in a very tongue-in-cheek fashion, laughing at itself, and it totally works.
  • Narrator – Perhaps the cornerstone of Jane the Virgin is the Latin lover narrator. Not only does this narrator narrate the story in gushing overtones, but the narrator also has the ability to write on the screen, embellishing the story with crossed-out words, hashtags, and more. It’s funny, because when I was teaching playwrighting to 8th graders, I always told them to avoid the narrator as a rule – to show, rather than tell. This is an excellent example of very talented writers knowing the rules and then breaking them.
  • Plot Twists – Every time you think this show is going to zig, it zags. Seriously, there’s no telling what new plot twists will make their way into the next show. I don’t know how they do it, but they keep their audience wanting and waiting anxiously for more.
  • Changing the narrative – Since the name gives it all away, spoiler alert – Jane is a virgin. However, she completely defies society’s stereotypical virgin. She takes risks, she’s passionate about life, and she falls in love. Similarly, other seemingly stereotypical characters – the pregnant teen, the single mom, the rich player, the tough cop – they all get turned on their heads. This show isn’t afraid to dive into the rich complexities of characters.
  • Character development – Even with the over the top plot lines, the ridiculous narrator, and the bizarre situations the characters find themselves in, the characters are fully-formed, flaws and all. As an audience member, you feel connected to their situations. The characters are ever-evolving, and they manage, in TV segments, to fully flush them out.

So, if you haven’t watched this hilarious and dramatic series yet, get thyself to Netflix, Hulu or On Demand post-haste. Trust me, you won’t regret it.