Jane’s husband Michael died two episodes ago, and it still feels like the show is getting its bearings. Our befuddled feelings may mimic Jane’s, but as I said last week, the whole incident threatens to restart the entire series. No one likes to use the phrase “jump the shark,” but after watching Chapter Fifty-Six last night, (and questioning why Jane is the only character who seemingly recalls that Michael is dead), it’s hard not to see Michael’s death for the plot device that it is. I chatted with Awards Circuit television columnist Cristina Lule to break down the show’s fractured storytelling and its inability to accurately depict writers.
Was Michael’s Death Worth It?
Cristina: Any chance Michael’s death was faked?
Kristen: How you thinking? What would be the point, other than telenovela conventions, of course?
Cristina: Traditional telenovela – nothing is what it seems.
Kristen: I really want to see how Rogelio is dealing with Michael’s death. They were besties after all!
Cristina: It felt rushed, with the time jump; there was no display of grief from the rest of the family. Like maybe they sprung it on us now, as opposed to later, because they were dry on ideas.
Kristen: We always judge Jane for taking things so seriously, but it’s amazing how in three years she’s the only one having these residual side effects from Michael’s death. I have to wonder how that would be different if he died last season and we had several months to think on it?
Cristina: I almost would have preferred it happened last season given how they’re dealing with his death now. And Mateo seems unaffected.
Kristen: I thought maybe Mateo’s acting out would be explored in that context and it wasn’t. I hate to fault the writers, but Michael’s death feels like a jumping of the proverbial shark.
Cristina: I was mad, not so much that he died, but more on how they handled it. I thought it would have been more dignified and would have reverberated deeply with the rest of the cast.
On top of Jane dealing with Michael’s death was the more compelling look at being a woman in the publishing industry. But for all Jane’s desire to be a writer, is she missing the forest for the trees?
Kristen: Speaking of privilege, Jane is getting a dressing down and being gaslit by Chloe! I don’t have statistics, but Chloe’s reaction seems common in the writing industry today, especially with women. Chloe isn’t supportive of the one woman of color working under her and gaslights Jane into staying longer only to berate her for having a voice.
Cristina: I’m wondering if Chloe will get the Petra treatment. She’s portrayed as the baddie but eventually will sort of bond with Jane in her own weird way.
Kristen: I love Jane, but why is it every time she gets a moment of confidence the show undermines that with a reality check that shows her confidence was ill-timed? The one time she says what every writer has wanted to say to their editor, she needs to grovel. Maybe because that’s a situation I’ve been in? It’s just rubbing me wrong. I do find it laughable that, for all Jane’s research, she didn’t realize you don’t get an advance all at once.
Cristina: This is clearly an error on the writer’s part. It’s unlike Jane to put up with all of this for as long as she has. I would have thought she quit a long time ago, but maybe Michael’s death has affected her in certain areas. I don’t know, I hope she starts speaking up more and not just hitting cops.
Kristen: It’s worth pointing out that as of 2015, only 10% of the publishing industry is women of color, so Jane getting published at all is something to celebrate. So, you and I are both writers and know most don’t get paid by their pen. I kinda want to slap Jane for thinking that management position Rafael offered her was beneath her. I get wanting to work in the industry but we all need a job to pay the bills.
Cristina: It’s not like Jane to think anything is unachievable. One often has to work a job they don’t really like because writing won’t put money in your savings. You’re lucky to find a job that pays pretty well. You’ll rarely find a writing job early on that is sustainable, and offers benefits. And don’t even think about supporting a family on writing alone.
Kristen: Jane has a chance at more jobs with larger pay once she’s published, but to turn down a job that would allow for both pay, benefits and a happier work environment? Working in management would seemingly allow her time to write the damn book.
Read the rest of our Jane the Virgin recaps here.