Bless the TV gods for bestowing upon this mostly mediocre fall season the year's most promising new rising star and most instantly adorable new character: Gina Rodriguez as Jane Villanueva, a good girl in an impossible situation. The CW's Jane the Virgin (Mondays, 9/8c) is an infectiously enjoyable confection of outlandish telenovela-inspired soap opera (think Ugly Betty) grounded in lovably fractious family dynamics (think a Latina Gilmore Girls — and how Jane would have been welcomed on the still-sorely-missed WB network).
Don't let the outrageous premise throw you, or deter you from making Jane's acquaintance. This is a young lady who's introduced (in a wry, storybook-like voice-over) through her honorable passions: for family, for God, and for grilled cheese sandwiches. An appetite for cheese will come in handy, as Jane falls victim to one of the most gaudily contrived plot twists in recent history: Raised by a very strict grandmother (Ivonne Coll) to avoid the pitfalls of her more carefree mother (Andrea Navedo), who had Jane as a single mom in her teens, our heroine is saving herself for marriage — to a dreamboat of a Miami detective (Brett Dier) — when she is accidentally artificially inseminated during a routine hospital visit.
So yes, Jane is a pregnant virgin, and the myriad complications from her not-quite-miraculous conception are a joyous marvel to behold, as Jane spins an intricately tangled but endearing web of romantic intrigue and comedy, all spiced with the knowing attitude that this could just as easily be one of the luridly passionate TV "stories" the three generations of Villaneuva women devour so eagerly. As the mellifluous narrator declares, "Jane's life was now the stuff of telenovelas." Not that there's anything wrong with that.
For all of the sudsy and irreverent wackiness, which extends to the more glamorous world of the hunky hotelier (Justin Baldoni) whose precious seed Jane is carrying, and even to the mysterious identity of Jane's own long-absent father, Jane the Virgin is just as memorable for its heartfelt emphasis on family, duty and tested faith.
I believe in Jane, and in Jane the Virgin, and in the spunky-sweet charms of Gina Rodriguez. Get to know her, and I guarantee you'll be counting the minutes until the next chapter in her deliriously entertaining journey. I know I am.