‘Jane the Virgin’ Recap: Is White Privilege Getting to Jane?

Jane the Virgin Recap: Season 3, Episode 9

There’s been plenty of discussion online regarding how Latinx communities deal with their own ethnicity in the world of white privilege. Latino isn’t a race, we can be black, white, indigenous and most are a mixture of those. (But, we all knew that already, right?) And though Jane the Virgin doesn’t often open itself up for a discussion of the topic, there was an undeniable hint of it in “Chapter Fifty-Three.” Jane tried to tamp down her stress in the wake of Michael’s decision to go to law school and amid fears that Mateo was verbally delayed. Last week, Jane grappled with being deemed a “meddler,” in spite of characters actively demanding she do so. Is this just another area where Jane’s gender and ethnicity are causing her to fall back on a need to please? And was Michael falling into the hole of using his white maleness to drive Jane crazy? Awards Circuit writer Karen Peterson and I sat down to discuss it.

I give Michael flack, but his struggle to find a new career over the last few episodes has left us wondering whether he’s making a mountain out of a molehill. He blithely decides to take the LSAT in order to apply to law school and becomes outraged when Jane brings up the daunting amount of work it’ll entail.

Kristen: I’m really surprised Michael didn’t look into this when he thought of law school. He’s all pissy with Jane but this should have been looked at before considering the idea!

Karen: I took the LSAT and I don’t know ANYONE who freaked out like that two weeks before.

Kristen: Michael treats things like they’re so simple.

Karen: Totally. Every hurdle is this massive obstacle with him because he’s not used to things not fitting into a perfect package.

Kristen: From Jane getting pregnant to losing his job there’s an air of entitlement, like we should feel bad because dammit he’s so nice!

Karen: For example, he didn’t pass his physical [to be cleared to return to work]. So then his option is desk duty, which he doesn’t want. Maybe I missed something, but was there a single mention of his getting himself healthier and taking the physical again? He didn’t pass one physical so his entire career is over?

Kristen: I don’t know if that’s a cop thing but there’s no discussion and he gets indignant over desk duty – that still means money, benefits and, you know, being a cop!

Karen: Unless it’s something chronic they usually give you another chance.

As Michael juggled both the LSAT and a job interview with a law firm (wouldn’t the job interview come after passing the test?) he continued taking his aggression out on Jane despite dealing with her own issues. Not only was she dealing with Mateo’s speech delays, but she had an upcoming deadline for her manuscript.

Karen: Meeting with a recruiter [I get], but they want to know your LSAT scores before they consider if they’ll let you in.

Kristen: It’s like a college asking for transcripts before accepting you. Jane says she can’t bring up how he stresses her out, but Michael can bite her head off? Ugh, what is going on with the gender disparities here? He’s treating this like a STAR test in elementary school.

Karen: Why can he freak out on her, but she can’t just tell him how she feels?

Kristen: WHITE. MALE. PRIVILEGE. That I meant in all caps.

Karen: He probably watched Legally Blonde too many times and just assumed getting a 179 is easy.

Everyone knows Jane wants to keep everyone happy, and that’s led to her getting in trouble for being too passive and/or high-strung. Here, though, she opened herself up to Michael’s abuse and negated her own feelings. Even when the two end up camping – apparently to get out of traffic? Not sure how that came to be – Jane struggles to maintain order and pitch a tent with Michael’s criticism in the background. Where are Jane’s own feelings in all this? The show’s strengths lie in Jane and Michael discussing their issues together, but the last two episodes have almost gleefully enjoyed criticizing Jane for her faults with no true discussion of others’ failings.

Michael treats the LSAT like a high schooler realizing the SATs are in 48 hours, and cramming, cramming, cramming. Either the show is poorly situating Michael’s lawyer decision – remember, just last week he wanted to be a stand-up comedian – or we’re meant to see Michael’s inability to think things through because he’s used to having things his way. If the show is looking at the subtle ways white males assert their privilege it’s fascinating. However, I question whether that’s the intent. Look at how easily solved Mateo’s speech issues were solved when that could have been a great way of looking at motherhood with a disabled child. Either way, Michael Cordero needs to check his privilege at the door!

Read the rest of our Jane the Virgin recaps here.