Jane the Virgin Recap: Season 5, Episode 11, “Chapter Ninety-Two”
Few things set me off like old school machismo culture. It’s the way it’s in your face — the blatant gender disparity of it. Tíos and abuelos who sit in the living room watching futbol or béisbol and ignoring the hard work that the women in their lives are doing right in front of their faces. Unspoken expectations that men will be served first at family gatherings. Hombrecitos who are encouraged to never grow up, while the little girls around them learn to do dishes and iron clothes before the 5th grade. It’s maddening. So, you better believe that for most of this episode, Jane Villanueva and I were on the exact same page.
When Alba proudly served Jorge his dinner first because “él es el hombre de la casa,” I visibly gagged. Jane’s eyes bulged. Then began the series of little requests: Could Jane move her girlie hair products out of the bathroom for Joge, don’t mind the TV in living room being permanently set to fútbol, and ignore the new recliner that takes up far too much floor space. Jane grew up in a house with three generations of women who took care of each other. She was not raised to coddle men (as a Latina who was raised by a single mom, I relate). Still, she bitterly swallows these new changes down bit-by-bit. That is, until Mateo starts mimicking the behavior.
Mateo was diagnosed with ADHD last week, and now the Villanuevas are trying a few behavior modifications to see if they can help him adjust to his new reality. Daily heavy exercise before school, no more sugary desserts, no television during the week and regular chores at both parents’ houses — Mateo is miserable, and quite frankly so is everyone around him. One day he loses it and has a full on crying temper tantrum on the dining room floor. Why should he have put away his dishes when Jorge doesn’t have to? Why can’t he watch TV when Jorge does? After all, he says with his little chest sticking out, he’s the man of the house, too.
Jane explains to Mister Sweetface that she’s not raising a boy who believes in gender binaries (#FeministParenting) and, later, approaches Jorge about his habits. She politely asks that, at least when Mateo is around, could he be more supportive to the behavior modification by cleaning up after himself and not watching television? Jorge agrees, but it’s Alba who goes off. She accuses Jane of disrespecting her marriage. When Jane counters that Alba’s losing herself in this new relationship, abuela drops the mic: “I am a strong, independent woman. So you can bet I wouldn’t be doing this I didn’t want to be. And just because it’s not how you would handle things, doesn’t mean it’s not right for me.”
I was struck. I’d assumed that Jane the Virgin was going to agree with me about this. Their feminist credentials are long and multifaceted. But feminism is ultimately about defending a woman’s right to her own choices. Alba’s made hers knowingly and with full autonomy. We should respect them. For Alba, this isn’t about settling or coming in second. This is a partnership — even if it isn’t apparent to her granddaughter. There are ways that Jorge takes care of Alba that we never see. Every morning, he puts Alba’s slippers next to her side of the bed, so that her feet never have to touch the floor (everyone say it with me now, awwwww!) Alba’s happy, over the moon happy. That’s great, but I still think Jorge could be more respectful of what Mateo needs for his mental health. Unfortunately, the show didn’t quite have time to go back full circle on that storyline.
What is decided, however, is that it’s time for Jane to move out of her grandmother’s house. She’s going to get a studio for her and Mateo, and start saving for their future. It’s not that she feels kicked out by her abuela’s life changes. After talking to Petra, she realized that she had been subconsciously waiting for Rafael to come sweep her off her feet. But Rafael’s dating new people now, and it’s time for Jane to become the heroine of her own story.
Meanwhile, Rogelio’s work relationship with River Fields takes an abrupt turn. After finding out that Xiomara’s PET scan has come back clear and cancer free, River makes out with Rogelio on set! He politely turns her down, because he has no interest in cheating on his wife. Then she does it again! And again! Once, including a very comical beat down from Xo herself after the director calls cut. The tribulation ultimately brings Rogelio and Xiomara closer, but River’s already has already gone full on stalker. Does any of this make sense for her character? No, of course not. And we’ve done a celebrity stalker plot for Rogelio before, which sort of makes this feel more like a retread than an exciting twist. But the closing shot of Brooke Shields looking wild-eyed into a fire makes the whole gag worth it.