“Chapter Seventy-Four” is a very good, very gay episode of Jane The Virgin. It’s also Gina Rodriguez’s directorial debut! And she does a marvelous job, making this one of my favorite episodes in the show’s history. There are some very fun shots, playful blocking, a nuanced theme about sexual agency that leads to some very good Alba scenes. As with any great episode of Jane The Virgin, there’s a perfect balance between comedy and drama, and Rodriguez proves not only skilled at performing both but at directing both, too. And oh yeah, JETRA LIVES!!!!!!!!!!!
Ok, so Jetra a.k.a. Jane/Petra doesn’t quite manifest in the way many of us hoped it might. Rather, the show explicitly acknowledges the very obvious flirting that has been going on between Petra and her lawyer, Jane Ramos (played by Rosario Dawson, who has been ruining my life for approximately 13 years). Ramos reveals she has an ex-girlfriend early on in her relationship with Petra, but even before that, the lesbian vibes are unmistakable. I mean, come on, in their very first meeting, Jane Ramos just bites? her? lip? while Petra is talking for, like, no reason. There was clearly something going on here, and the chemistry between Yael Grobglas and Rosario Dawson was instantly incinerating. By the end of “Chapter Seventy-Four,” it looks like bisexual Petra is finally canon, and I am READY!!!
This raises some linguistic concerns like, for example, what shall we call this new pairing? Calling it “Jetra” seems disingenuous, since that ship name is already established and means Petra/Jane Villanueva, and I’m not letting go of that ship aaaaany time soon. (In fact, this episode has some notable Jetra moments that shall not be ignored.) The Autostraddle team has taken to calling Dawson’s Jane “NuJane,” so maybe NuJetra? I’ve seen “Jetra 2.0” floated around tumblr. The comments are open for your ship name suggestions. For the purposes of this article, to keep things as easy as possible, I’m actually going to refer to Jane Ramos as “J.R.,” the pet name Petra gives her and she eventually embraces by episode’s end. All mentions of “Jane” henceforth refer to Jane Villanueva.
With that in mind, here are the gayest moments from “Chapter Seventy-Four,” including both original Jetra flirtations and steamy Petra/J.R. scenes.
Petra debuts a new look in this episode in the form of a fresh above-the-shoulders haircut. It’s a dramatic change for her, and dramatically changing your hair/look is a concept invented by queer people. That’s a bi haircut if I’ve ever seen one. To take things one level further, Petra’s haircut looks quite a lot like when Jane first cut her hair into a lob during the show’s time-jump. All I’m saying is that a classic move I used to make as a closeted baby lesbian was to imitate the aesthetics of the girls I had crushes on!!!! Also when Jane says “I love your haircut,” Petra smiles as if that’s all the approval she needs.
Jane prioritizing Petra over sexting Rafael
During Rafael’s attempt to sext with Jane one evening, Jane is like sry but I gotta work on ghostwriting Petra’s book. Is she being professional or just choosing Petra over Rafael for gay reasons? I believe it is open for interpretation.
Petra’s eagerness to have Jane on top of her every minute of the day, if you know what I mean
Petra asking Jane to shadow her “for the book” is so transparently gay!!! She wants Jane to be right there with her just all the time??? She clearly wants Jane all to herself all the time always. And Jane may complain a bit about listening to Petra’s voice memos all day after the shadowing doesn’t work out, but does she really hate it? I don’t think so. Also, Petra totally calls that Jane is making her judgey face, because she knows her oh so well.
J.R. and Petra sitting very close to each other on the couch
In the first scene J.R. appears in, she really just seems to be casually hanging out in Petra’s penthouse but supposedly it’s a “professional meeting.” “All you have to do is tell the truth,” J.R. says to Petra, who is sitting extremely close to her on a large couch that does not require such close proximity. The truth about what happened the night Anezka died or the truth about her obvious feelings for J.R.? Think on that.
Petra instantly becoming an expert in screwdrivers/screws
Petra and J.R.’s stairwell moment and gentle knee touch
This is a great scene for many reasons. For starters, it really drives home how underrated of an actor Grobglas is. I think Rodriguez in particular knows how good she is, so her approach to directing Petra scenes in the episode is particularly brilliant. But let’s not bury the lede here: THAT KNEE TOUCH! As Petra cries about how terrifying and dangerous her mother is, J.R. tries to console her by resting her hand gently on her knee. You know, just a gal touching her pal’s knee. Not insignificantly, this is when J.R. flips from trying to screw over Petra to trying to screw her—OOPS I MEAN to trying to prove she’s innocent and get out from under whoever is blackmailing her (Luisa? Rose?).
Petra: This isn’t your problem.
J.R.: Yes it is.
J.R.’s double-arm hold
Before they head into the police station so Petra can make her statement, J.R. places not one but two hands on each of Petra’s arms and the two lock eyes for a very long time. Too long! That lingering look is so much more than just a “good luck” look! Again, Grobglas and Dawson are just so good at playing the sexual chemistry between the characters that they barely have to say anything. I like to imagine Gina Rodriguez settling into her director’s chair and saying to them both “Okay, love what you’re doing, keep doing it…but GAYER.”
Petra not wanting J.R. to leave her life
After the statement to the police goes well, J.R. makes some comment about how the two will soon be able to go their separate ways, and Petra just looks immediately broken. Thankfully, the Latin Lover Narrator steps in to really drive this moment home for the straights who may have missed the subtext: “Looks like someone’s having trouble letting go,” he muses.
J.R. AND “PETE”
It is time to talk about the pet names. After initially resisting, Jane Ramos seems to have taken a liking to J.R. Nicknames that are just two letters are GAY (PJ, DJ, MV, and SJ are all names of actual lesbians from my actual life). And then J.R. playfully calls Petra “Pete” after they’ve gone on this journey together? How dare they give each other butch nicknames? And then make flirty eye contact with each other right after? RUDE.
Petra’s voice playing in Jane’s head as she’s buying a vibrator
To go back to original Jetra for a moment, the fact that Jane hears Petra’s voice in her internal monologue while she’s in a sex shop purchasing a vibrator is, um, telling. Then Jane also takes Petra’s advice and dominates Petra by laying out exactly how this ghostwriting thing is going to go, and Petra looks pretty into it? Which brings me to……….
Petra tells Jane she’s a bottom who loves to be submissive in bed!!!!!!!!!
Reader, I was hyperventilating just like Jane was on the stairmaster. When Jane asks Petra when she ever just steps back and lets someone else be in control, Petra replies DURING SEX! She goes on to talk about how she loves to be dominated in bed, and it literally turns Jane on. Okay, so presumably she’s turned on by Petra talking about the way Rafael dominates in bed but perhaps it is a little of both.
Petra has a goddamn sex dream about J.R.
In what feels extremely like the beginning of a porno, J.R. comes by Petra’s penthouse to say that she “got her off” with the D.A. and is now gonna REALLY get her off! She steps closer and they kiss just as the door’s closing, and as I’m slightly losing consciousness, Petra bolts awake from the dream, gasping in pleasure. I gasped, too. And again, just in case there are people who don’t think there’s anything to read into this, the Latin Lover Narrator plays it up by saying “that’s one kind of sexual awakening.”
Look, do I wish Jane The Virgin would give better storylines to its already established lesbian characters? Of course! As a reminder, Petra’s assistant Krishna has said she is gay. And as another reminder, LUISA EXISTS. Sometimes, I feel like the writers need to be reminded of that. But also, they have dug themselves into a bit of a hole with Luisa, often mishandling her addiction and mental health issues for the sake of plot or, even worse, comedy. I would love for Luisa to be a bigger part of the show again and to have storylines that aren’t always centered on her mental health. Yara Martinez is another one of the show’s outstanding performers, and like Grobglas and Rodriguez, she’s equally good at harnessing the show’s comedic and dramatic tones.
But adding another lesbian Latina to the show with Jane Ramos is exciting. And the bi Petra development—which I’m sure is going to have real implications on the show because of how much the Latin Lover Narrator emphasizes it and because this isn’t really the kind of show that would just tease that and move on—is exciting, too. And here’s why: So often, straight fans and also from television creators and writers themselves is that respond to calls for more and better representation from queer fans by saying there isn’t room for a new character in the story or that characters have already been established as straight and it wouldn’t make narrative sense to change that. Um, what?
First of all, I was established as straight up until my 20s before I figured things out. People come out at many different points in life. And writing a character previously assumed to be straight as queer isn’t too jarring or unbelievable of a change. It’s how life works a lot of the time! And plus, it’s actually pretty rare that a TV character explicitly identifies themselves as straight because, just as in real life, heterosexual isn’t something you come out as; it’s assumed. So no, the fact that Petra could start dating a woman or at least exploring her sexuality further is not out-of-left-field; it’s not a “plot twist” either.
This is honestly something television shows should be doing more: acknowledging fluidity by writing queer storylines for protagonists previously assumed to be straight. It’s a smart way to approach representation and to connect with queer viewers. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend just did it, too. New Girl did it. I still remember exactly where I was and how I felt when How To Get Away With Murder turned the ex-girlfriendy subtext between Annalise and Eve into EXTREMELY BOLD TEXT. Given all the queer-baiting that still happens on television, it’s very satisfying when a show delivers on obvious flirtations between two women.
(P.S. There’s already fanfic.)