Only time will tell if “Jane the Virgin” can top its impressive first season, which was met with critical acclaim last year and earned actress Gina Rodriguez a Golden Globe. But things look pretty promising after the show’s second season premiere, which aired Monday night.
Here are five reasons to keep watching “Jane the Virgin” if you’re a fan. Haven’t seen an episode yet? The first season of the CW hit is now on Netflix.
1. The telenovela references
The show’s telenovela roots (it’s loosely based on the Venezuelan series, “Juana la Virgen”) lends it authenticity and quirkiness. A shared love of telenovelas is one of the things that bond the Villanueva women — Jane, her mother Xiomara and her loving abuela, Alba. In the second season premiere, a memory of watching a telenovela with the most important women in her life helps comfort and motivate Jane in a time of crisis, after the birth of her son, Mateo.
“Don’t be afraid,” she recalls her grandmother telling her in Spanish. “That’s the best part of telenovelas. You know they’ll live happily ever after.”
Aspects of the show, namely its crazy virgin-gets-accidentally-artificially-inseminated premise, are straight out of a telenovela. Also straight out of a telenovela: Jane’s lovable but egotistical father, Rogelio, who contributes some of the show’s funniest moments and dialogue. “I never thought I’d feel anything but hashtag blessed to be famous, but now I’m feeling hashtag cursed,” he says in the second season’s first episode.
2. The narration
Narrator Anthony Mendez earned an Emmy nod for his pitch-perfect voiceovers, which offer equal parts explanation and analysis of the show’s storylines and often complicated relationships.
Mendez’s baritone is a constant (omni)presence throughout the series, rooting for Jane, yes, but also having a really good time. “I’ll say this,” the narrator says of one of the story’s antagonists, “the girl’s got spunk.” And yes, that’s a double entendre.
3. The cheeky chyrons
At times, Mendez (and the “Jane” writers) spell things out, literally, in the form of on-screen captions and graphics that may point out a character’s true thoughts or intentions. Things get meta in the second season premiere during a local newscast when traditional chyrons get altered at the narrator’s whim.
4. The amicable love triangle
Jane has two men vying for her love — Michael, who was her boyfriend at the time of her artificial insemination, and Rafael, who turns out to be the baby’s father. There are contentious love triangles in “Jane the Virgin,” but this isn’t one of them. You could easily find yourself rooting for both of Jane’s suitors and, as a result, it’s easy to empathize with Jane, who clearly has feelings for both of them.
As a new mom, Jane faces some very common challenges, in addition to her telenovela-level problems, and Rafael and Michael present a united front to help her with both. This leads to a poignant and delightfully funny scene where Jane is finally able to breastfeed after struggling throughout the episode. “Oh my God, I’m leaking milk, actually leaking,” she says. “You wanna see a miracle? This is a freaking miracle!”
5. The cliffhangers
As Jane’s grandmother tells it, telenovelas offer reliably happy endings, which make the ups and the downs between totally worth it. Each episode of the series ends with “to be continued,” which somehow manages not to get old even as we approach the 24th so-called chapter. Chapter 23 ends with Jane settling into her slightly-more-complicated life as a new mother and … a cryptic glimpse of what’s to come.
With mountain views in front of us, we see the back of a woman’s head and hear her say in German: “Let’s go after her. Now.” Loyal viewers will have a hunch of who this presumed enemy might be, but it’s also entirely possible that this nemesis is someone we’ve never met before.
To quote the show’s astute narrator: “I could really use some it’s-gonna-be-okay theme music right about now.”