‘Jane the Virgin’ Recap: How Come Latinos on TV Are Always Broke and Struggling?

Courtesy of the CW

Jane the Virgin Recap: Season 3, Episode 4, “Chapter Forty-Eight”

After almost losing her husband and losing her virginity, it’s about time Jane, and the show (henceforth known as “Jane”) get back to basics. “Chapter Forty-Eight” was a return home, which makes sense since it was all about the Villanueva women dealing with their fractured family unit. Since Petra is a bit busy at the moment – #Petrafied – she hasn’t kept up on secretly paying Jane’s rent, leaving Jane and Michael scrambling to cut costs and save their dream home. This week’s Jane the Virgin recap guest is Pili Valdes, NALIP Latino Lens TV Drama Incubator Finalist, writer, actor, and Team Michael supporter.

The episode’s predominant focus was Jane’s money troubles. I’ve said this before, but what Jane the Virgin gets right is showing the human drama of life itself. Though Jane’s rent seems like a minor $280 problem, Michael hits it on the head — people today live to work, but don’t “have fun.” It’s easy to have your major bills covered, but what’s life if you have to cut out lattes, books, movies, and Spotify? When “Vests,” aka Scott, offered Jane a chance to absolve her financial problems at the expense of selling out her friends, Jane went into martyr mode only to be disappointed when she realized Lina took the money. Was Jane in the right? It’s easy to have integrity, but the proposition is what corporate managers do daily. Where does integrity stop and a desire to support one’s family begin?

Kristen: Maybe it’s because of the socioeconomic world the show has played with, but Vests has a point. Jane wouldn’t have to struggle so hard, financially.

“I can’t think of a show featuring minorities where they discuss money in a way that speaks to me or where the characters are not defined by their economic struggles.”

Pili: But that will lead to other things for sure. Plus it’s part of the newlywed thing to struggle at first and then figure it out together.

Kristen: We saw Jane and Michael discuss budgeting and coming to the realization that downsizing isn’t failure, which I loved. But at the same time, Jane kept bringing up struggling with money and I don’t necessarily agree that the show’s dealt with that in the past.

Pili: That whole cutting Spotify and lattes thing was real.

Kristen: Maybe I’m used to seeing “poverty” being the fear of the house being foreclosed on or more massive changes? This episode touched on the real life struggles of cutting the little things and realizing they don’t make as big an impact as we’d like.

Pili: They were very careful with how they described it “struggling financially.” They still have jobs. They are working middle class. I think it’s specific to the struggles of a two-income household within their tax bracket.

Kristen: It definitely gets the middle-class limbo they’re touching on. Maybe it was Jane’s pride that irked me this week?

Pili:  I love that her character has [magic wands like Rafael’s money], but Lina was on point in listing her decision. I was a little frustrated by Jane going “holier than thou” with Lina, yet taking Rafael’s money. It’s $280 bucks, ask your pops. It felt like Jane, morally, was confused, which might not be a bad thing considering how pristine of character she is.

Kristen: I’ve been noticing a lot this season that I think other shows’ explorations of things like money and poverty, particularly with minorities, is coloring my viewing. How much of my past television watching influences what I expect from this show? What Jane the Virgin, as a show, does so well is break down the walls of audiences who anticipate a certain way of life, and realize that’s untrue. If that make sense?

Pili: I can’t think of a show featuring minorities where they discuss money in a way that speaks to me or where the characters are not DEFINED by their economic struggles.

Kristen: Too often we see them just living in sub-par circumstances; there’s no discussion, that’s just how it is. Whereas Jane emphasizes the balancing act that comes from maintaining that, but still being financially unstable. It’s why I think of Full House when watching this. Both have sitcom-y moments, but Full House was a total white bread fantasy where the audience was left wondering, “How the hell do they afford all that?!”

Pili: It’s ironic because I think telenovelas started that whole rich vs. poor struggle and that translated into American mainstream. Que Pasa USA touched a bit on it too. It’s cool that Jane doesn’t play into telenovela tropes. Yes, she and Rafael had their thing, but she was never intimidated by that or let that poke a hole in her integrity AND she chose Michael, the blue collar dude.

Kristen: Exactly. Though, I still shake my fists at that. #TeamRafael