You wouldn’t think in an episode that featured criminal cover-up, a lesbian sex scene in a mental asylum, an escaped hostage, a love triangle, and a massive hurricane that the most intense narrative would be an immigration issue, but with “Jane the Virgin”‘s latest episode that’s exactly what happened.
I won’t bore you with the details (you really should be watching the show and be all caught up anyway) but essentially Jane’s Grandmother Alba took a tumble down the stairs at the end of episode nine, and episode ten finds her in the hospital, stable but still in danger. As Jane and her mother are quickly told that the hospital knows that Alba is in this country illegally and has no insurance, and so she can’t be kept there while she lingers in her coma. In fact, they have plans to extradite her to Venezuela, while she is in her coma.
“You can’t do that!” exclaims Jane’s Mom. And then this happens:
The show’s use of onscreen text is inspired, consistently closer to an asset than it is a gimmick, but this one really takes the cake. Immigration reform is an extremely important subject these days in the U.S., and this is about as in your face as “Jane the Virgin” has ever gotten about politics.
You see, although “Jane the Virgin” finds its roots in and embraces telenovela culture, the show is so successful because it’s never afraid to ground itself in the legitimacy of the lives these women lead. Alba speaks fluent Spanish all the time, Jane cares deeply about her loved ones but also knows how to follow her own path, Xo (Jane’s Grandmother) is sexual because she chooses to be. These characters are clearly full people whose writers are in touch with the beats these characters would actually face in the real world.
So when they talk about medical repatriation that’s threatened in the show, it’s more than just a plot device, or way to raise the stakes. It’s a way to introduce real challenges people face, and even includes a hashtag for people to continue the conversation (which coincidentally worked out to be more timely than ever). It makes the drama around it all the more weighty, because it’s showing its characters as full people. It’s the seemingly small touches like that which earned lead Gina Rodriguez a Golden Globe and keeps me coming back week after week.