‘Jane the Virgin’ Takes a Powerful Stand on Immigration Reform With One On-Screen Hashtag

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Hot off her win at the Golden Globes for Best Actress in a TV Comedy, Gina Rodriguez returned to the small screen in Jane the Virgin‘s first episode back after a short mid-season break. In Chapter 10, the jokes, drama, and novela tropes were turned way up, all working together to reach that pitch-perfect sarcastic but sentimental tone this show has fine-tuned.

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

There’s lots to cover and this isn’t a recap of every plot point, but Jane is still pregnant and still a virgin, there’s a hurricane on its way to Miami, abuela is in a coma after falling getting pushed down the stairs, and the cops (including Jane’s ex, Michael) are crawling all over the hotel where she works (and that her baby daddy owns) in search of the elusive drug cartel kingpin “Sin Rostro.” (Thank God for the tireless, hilarious narrator who helps us catch up at the beginning of each episode!)

In between the witty quips and sweet interludes, came one of the show’s most profound moments. Jane’s mom, Xo, has just been informed that her mother, currently in a coma, could be deported upon waking up. The doctor explains, “Your mother is in this country illegally. She doesn’t have insurance and the hospital can’t afford to absorb the cost of her care. When the hurricane lifts, we will have to notify I.C.E. and they will deport her to Venezuela where she can continue to receive care if she needs it.” Xo is obviously distraught and in disbelief, “That can’t be legal!” she proclaims. [Hold for dramatic tension] Then, a call to action for the audience appears on screen.

With the simple words #ImmigrationReform Jane the Virgin put itself front and center in the fight for social change. Plus it reminded us, for a brief moment, that TV doesn’t have to be all fantasy and make-believe — good television reflects real life too.

Following the brazen hashtag soapbox, the doctor tells Xo, “It’s called medical repatriation.” I took the on-screen directive and did look it up. Not surprisingly, it’s awful. A recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine, titled “Undocumented injustice? Medical repatriation and the ends of health care,” argues that the practice of deporting undocumented patients in need of medical treatment is unethical — and that’s coming from healthcare providers themselves. Now, we can add our country’s (failing) immigration policy to the growing list of hot button issues that the Jane the Virgin writers refuse to shy away from. (A recent episode that touched on abortion was the crown jewel of the inaugural season’s tangled plot lines.)

Tonight’s hashtag intervention is another reason, of many, why Latinos (and everyone else) should be clamoring to watch this show. This my friends, is the series we’ve been waiting for: a Latino show with complex, layered, and diverse characters — with no gangbangers, convicts, sexy maids, or white saviors — and that deals with social issues in a sensitive way that doesn’t pander to or simplify Latino cultural beliefs.

The ratings have dipped since its season premiere high but let’s hope Rodriguez’s Golden Globe win nudges them upwards. Losing this landmark series starring a brilliant, young Latina actress to cancellation would be a tremendous loss for our community. Here’s my advice: turn on your TV, change it to the CW, and tune in to Jane the Virgin next Monday. It’s about time for some #RatingsReform.

Don’t just take it from me, the twitter-frenzy tonight’s episode inspired tells it all.