From the show’s premise about a young Catholic woman being artificially inseminated while still a virgin, the CW’s Jane the Virgin has always wanted to promote the positives of having sex. Since that fateful episode premiere the series has talked about the joys of dirty talk and serious topics like abortion, and slut shaming, all with a lead-up to how waiting (or not) falls down on the individual. Friday’s episode, “Chapter Seventy-Four” was all about continuing this trend, but presented things new eyes.

The true heart and soul of “Chapter Seventy-Four” was found in Alba’s (Ivonne Coll) own sexual awakening. As a character, Alba frustrates audiences as often as she endears. This week’s episode opens with a flashback to the fateful “flower” promise young Jane once made to her grandma, vowing she wouldn’t lose her virginity before marriage at the risk of destroying her flower. As the series has progressed, Alba has always remained rigid in her belief that sex before marriage is bad, which has caused both daughter Xiomara (Andrea Navedo) and granddaughter Jane to worry about her reaction to their sexuality.

Once Jane finally married and lost her virginity the show started to give Alba room to grow. She cast off the rigorousness that once shackled her. Though she accepted her loved ones were having sex, there wasn’t a whole lot going on for Alba personally. This season, though, Alba has found herself independent and looking for love. Her burgeoning relationship with Jorge led to a close call, with the two nearly being caught getting down.

The last few episodes have left Alba sad and confused, questioning why she rebuffed Jorge’s proposal of marriage. This week saw her putting up an online dating profile that Jane declared would only attract monks. Alba said what most older women in general say, online dating is too “impersonal.” Compelled by Jane, Alba decides to ask out her “church crush,” who suggests a double date with his grandson and Jane. Things looked to go well, but Alba was still upset. A beautifully acted heart-to-heart with her granddaughter revealed Alba’s fears involved the issues inherent in time and aging. Alba’s worries that she’s gotten too old to enjoy sex, feeling she’s a “broken wheel on the side of the road” situates things and admits it’s been thirty years since being intimate with someone, but it’s Jane acknowledgement that Alba’s religious upbringing prohibited her from enjoying sex that unites all the Villaneuva women.

As important as religion is for all the women in Jane the Virgin, all of them acknowledge how restrictive it is to women finding their sexuality and learning to love it. For Alba, sex remains embarrassing, a sin (if only used for pleasure), and certainly not something to engage in if you’re older. Thankfully Jane decides to set her straight, taking Alba to a sex shop! It’s refreshing watching Jane and Alba visit this place. (If anything it’s remarkable to see a sex shop presented as a legitimate place of business and not a scuzzy dive filled with perverts.) Alba can’t fathom buying anything, edible underwear or otherwise. Jane is respectful, discussing the issues that come from older women who want to have sex (Gina Rodriguez talking about vaginal dryness will forever be adorable and hilarious). Alba, however, isn’t hearing it and leaves…but not before Jane gets her a half-off vibrator (and some comped lube!).

But like a movie revealing a gun in the beginning, with the tacit awareness that it will be used by the end, a person buying a vibrator will have something funny happen with it later. Alba and Jane leave the Marbella only to have someone hit Alba’s bag. The bag falls and a familiar buzzing sound is heard. And if the scene wasn’t meant to make you laugh enough – a small child asks if it’s a vibrating hot dog. Yet Alba’s humiliation is short lived as we later hear that buzzing happen under her covers. Ivonne Coll’s acting here is amazing! Who knew a person’s eyes could open that wide?

This episode was so vital, for both the future of Jane the Virgin and for Alba. Seeing her take control of her own sexual pleasure, and refusing to let her religion dictate her individuality was amazing. Too often older Latina women assume sex is something to be endured, not enjoyed, especially if their Catholicism is strong. It’s a hard conundrum to get over, and hopefully Alba’s newfound sexual pleasure will inspire others to seek their own.

“Chapter Seventy-Four” also was a boon for Gina Rodriguez, who made her directorial debut. This had been touted for months with fan response being enthusiastic. Rodriguez’s name as director certainly enticed people to watch as this week’s also gave the series its highest ratings this season. Rodriguez herself has said she’d love to direct more episodes and if this ratings boost is proof the series needs to put her behind the camera more!

Advertisement