Jane the Virgin is Ugly Betty meets Desperate Housewives meets Spanish telenovelas

E4's latest import is glossy, high drama with heart, says Ellie Walker-Arnott

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Jane the Virgin is the latest American import to find her way onto E4. If you’re partial to silly, soapy drama and have yet to make her acquaintance, it’s high time you were introduced.

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Jane (Gina Rodriguez) is a 23 year-old trainee teacher who waitresses at a hotel on South Beach. She’s tried her whole life to avoid drama but she’s just been hit in the face by a bucket-load: she’s pregnant, even though she’s never had sex.

Don’t worry. This isn’t some Immaculate Conception story. Jane isn’t the mother of the Messiah. (We don’t think. If we learned anything during the first episode, it was that we shouldn’t second-guess what might happen down the line…)

Jane the Virgin has been artificially inseminated – by accident.

It sounds improbable, sure, but spend a few minutes in Jane’s company and you won’t care one jot. This is glossy, high drama with heart: Ugly Betty meets Desperate Housewives meets Spanish telenovelas.

Jane is also genuinely likeable, and she’s not the only one. There’s her devout, Spanish-speaking granny, a mum who made the mistakes Jane has tried so hard not to, and Jane’s seemingly perfect policeman fiancé. Plus the dad, a conflicted and rather attractive hotel owner (side note: yes, it is the hotel Jane works at. Second side note: he’s also had cancer and this accidental pregnancy is his only shot at having a biological child), his manipulative, cheating, gold-digger of a wife, and her two-faced lover.

And, of course, the gynaecologist responsible for this mix up of epic proportions. Did I mention that she is also the baby daddy’s sister? Luckily, the drama is punctuated with typewriter-style memos on who everyone is, what they are up to and what their current relationship status is.

Jane the Virgin isn’t gritty or live-altering. Our heroine isn’t difficult to watch or fundamentally flawed. The show is melodramatic and, for the most part, completely unfeasible. But it’s also charming, sparky and entirely enjoyable. And after 40 minutes in Jane’s company, I am completely and utterly sold. 

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Jane the Virgin starts tonight at 9pm on E4