It’s hard to not sound like a broken record, but Jane the Virgin is entering troubled waters. The time jump and rushed character motivations continue to come off as little more than hops over undeveloped plot points and it all came to a head in last night’s episode, “Chapter Fifty-Seven.” Outside of the usual break-ups and make-ups the episode overall was uninspired and regurgitated elements we’ve already talked about this season. That’s not to say the episode was a total waste because as I’ve discussed previously, Jane the Virgin’s foray into the “mommy world” is fascinating and left Remezcla Film Editor Vanessa Erazo and I asking, “How would things be different if Jane was our moms,” i.e. an old-school Latina mom. With the help of our own mothers, let’s look at three Jane the Virgin parenting sequences and see whether Jane should have reacted differently.
Note: In case you’re worried, Remezcla isn’t advocating child abuse, merely pointing out generational distinctions in child-rearing from a Latina perspective.
Setting the Scene: This moment from last night’s episode set up Jane as a “helicopter mom” who watches her son’s every move, usually with an eye towards promoting safety and/or praising their cuteness.
Jane’s reaction: She’s proud of Mateo for taking well to his new aide, Carly. Mind you, he needs the aide because he’s such a handful in the classroom.
Our moms’ reactions: It’s interesting to look at the racial differences in the “helicopter mom” stereotype. Vanessa says: “Latina moms are overprotective in different ways and never stop meddling, even when you’re 40. When I visit my parents and stay at their house, my mom sneakily makes my bed as soon as I leave the room.” Petra, and the predominately white and affluent women in the show, fall into the typical definitions of helicopter moms as nosy, overly judgmental and fearful that their children will be hurt. I know my mom would have stood outside the door with a look of warning and a hairbrush, reminding me of the consequences of irritating the teacher. Also my mom: “Why does he have an aide just for being difficult? His mother should be the one getting him in line so he can go to school and learn!”
Setting the Scene: This scene from “Chapter Fifty-Five” was one of the first to bring up questions of how Jane raises Mateo. The five-year-old is offered a snack and proceeds to hurl the carrot sticks out of the bowl and into the faces of Petra’s twin daughters.
Jane’s reaction: Tell him no, complete with hand clap, and proceed to get irritated at Petra for trying to discipline Mateo more forcefully.
Our moms’ reactions: Jane and Petra are “talk it out” moms; an old-school Latina would have ended the behavior then and there with some old-fashioned corporal punishment. “My mom would have spanked the hell out of me…a Latina mom would be like: THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE while holding a chancla in her hand,” Vanessa says. After watching this sequence, my mom recommended Jane “lovingly” slap him upside the head with the plastic bowl and have him eat the carrot sticks anyway. Other old-school techniques our mothers would have endorsed employing include: shoe throwing (imagine Jane whipping her shoes off in front of those ladies!) and/or ominously holding up a belt.
Setting the Scene: At the beginning of season three Mateo is accused of biting a little boy. Jane immediately sticks up for her son only to have Mateo bite her!
Jane’s reaction: As we often see with the show, Jane’s moment of confidence against the snobby mom is immediately underscored by the realization that the mom was correct.
Our moms’ reactions: After my mom asked why the series was recycling a gag from Modern Family, she responded with “Jane should have just bit him back!” She did applaud Jane for defending her child because “even if Jane saw him rip his arm off, you never throw your kid under the bus.” Vanessa’s mom actually dealt with this very same issue in real life. She says little Vanessa wouldn’t stop biting their next-door neighbor even after getting yelled at and hit on the mouth. So Vanessa’s mom took the next logical step for a mamá Mexicana, she threatened her with a chile: “If you bite her again, you’re going to bite this hot pepper too!” She says it took months, but the biting eventually stopped.