This Week’s ‘Jane the Virgin’ Gave the Traditional Fairy Tale a Feminist Update

Photo: Scott Everett White. Courtesy of The CW Network


Jane the Virgin Recap: Season 3, Episode 19, “Chapter Sixty-Three”

Next week Jane the Virgin’s third season comes to a close, but not before we get a wedding fit for Rogelio! “Chapter 63” saw two men in knee-breeches fighting, face masks being ripped off, and the return of Jane’s (Gina Rodriguez) happy dance (with a healthy dose of inebriation thrown in). The main trope though was fairy tales, and in the landscape of reconfiguring these classic tales for audiences of color – examples include HBO’s 1995 series Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child and Disney’s 2009 film Princess and the Frog – this week’s Jane was a welcome addition to a growing canon of folk tales focused on POC. What worked was Jane’s own personal approach to the stories. How does one so consumed with old-fashioned romance navigate stories that are essentially codes of conduct written for white women? This week I’m joined once again by Culturess’ own Isis Melton to talk about Jane: the princess.

Kristen: Gotta love how fairy tales change with age. “The princess had her own fulfilling career outside the monarchy.” Pure Jane! They’re bringing up the princess paradigm in light of how few Latina princesses are out there in pop culture.

Isis: People of color are the very last ones to get one. I want my fairytale, but at the same time I want Jane to get there on her own terms.

To give Xiomara (Andrea Navedo) something this week, Rogelio’s wedding planners deemed her “too old” to pull off a fairy tale wedding. If Disney’s taught us anything it’s that young girls get the “happily ever after” and older women become villainous crones.

Kristen: Seems like the episode theme is about the shelf life of fairy tales.Or whether they should even have a shelf life.

Isis: I don’t believe in a shelf life. No one should be allowed to dictate someone’s happiness.

Kristen: It seems like this is meant to be metaphorical while also showing that women of a certain age, in fairy tales, become queens or die. Xo’s wedding is very generic with nothing particularly corresponding to her heritage. Is this decades of white fairy tales, years of living in America, or just a universal trope that all women like princess imagery?

Isis: Wonder if she had a quinceañera?

Kristen: I know we saw Jane’s, but not Xiomara’s.

Isis: Those are just as big as weddings.

Kristen: Unfortunately my parents were raised around white people so I got denied that rite of passage. My mom told me recently, “I guess you could have had one.” Thanks mom!

Isis: Same here. We also didn’t have the money for that.

Kristen: Agree. There’s no way my parents would have paid for something huge like what I’ve seen.

In a moment that could conceivably be argued as the heroine saving our hero, Jane defended Rogelio’s (Jaime Camill) honor after a fight with Fabian (Francisco San Martin) also got him a punch in the face.

Kristen: This is the most homoerotic fight scene. Go Jane! She’s got a right hook.

Isis: I’m glad she was the one who punched him.

Kristen: She defended her dad for a total gender swap of the honor fight.

Isis: She was her own hero.

Kristen: She’s both the hero and the queen, to bring it back to fairy tales.

As Rafael (Justin Baldoni) and Petra (Yael Grobglas) debated whether to get back to together, it left Jane on the outside. When she saw the Solanos back together, it was hard not to feel like the poor waif seeing the King and Queen rejoice.

Kristen: Poor Mateo is the Dickensian street urchin in Jane’s fantasy and Petra is the blonde, blue eyed princess of old.

After recently tackling immigration it was great to look at a simpler topic through a racial lens. The writers didn’t specifically point out how fairy tales perpetuate false narratives – both to little girls (thus Jane’s continued emphasis on everyone having a job in these stories) and to people of color – but left you to bring up how they fit in Jane’s current reality, both as a Latina and single mother. (Though maybe there’s an air of the political if you look at the current blonde haired, blue-eyed ice princess in the White House.) If anything, “Chapter 63” taught me that a stripper is willing to show up dressed as anything, even Prince Charming!