Jane the Virgin is the only TV show that everyone on our TV team watches, and this season we had a lot to say about it behind the scenes. (And also in front of the scenes.) So I thought we might as well go ahead and feel all those season four feelings out loud so you can join in with us. Below we’re talking about Luisa and Rose and Petra and JR and that wild season finale reveal.
Heather: Do you think Luisa could ever come back and be integrated into the show again, or has that ship sailed?
Natalie: So, I’m glad we’re starting our conversation here because I think a lot of the reservations that people have about investing, emotionally, in Petra and JR (myself included) stem from this show’s history with its queer characters which is, frankly, not great. Whatever the limitations of Yara Martinez and Bridget Regan’s schedules were, there had to be something better for Jane the Virgin to do when they were available than what happened (i.e., sending Luisa to rehab all the time) — but yes, I think Luisa could come back and be integrated into the show again — but does the show have time for that, if the fifth season will be its last? Probably not. That said, given that we’ve seen Rose and that she now, presumably, knows Luisa’s location — because Rafael had to tell her something to get the information about Michael, right? — it seems very, very likely that “the greatest love story ever told” has another chapter or two in it.
KKU: Oh geez, my feelings are hella complicated about this. If I’m being 100% honest with myself and the world, Roisa has and always will be my favorite problematic ship. I KNOW Rose killed her dad (tbh I didn’t care about this that much) and I KNOW she’s her stepmom (super don’t care about this in fact it is a selling point) and I KNOW she had her committed/made her and everyone else think she was delusional about their relationship (this is the part that is unforgivable to me and I try to forget it happened because ugh wow it was so hard to watch and so terrible). BUT before a lot of that really bad shit went down…Rose and Luisa sneaking around and having hot, sweaty sex was kind of? The? Best? (And I really mean sweaty! I remember that one season one scene where they’re like panting and glistening on the floor and I was like wow this is extremely believable post-coital physicality and anyways I think I’ve seen it 75 times since.) Look, I love a happy, functional lesbian relationship more than anything else, but I also appreciate a full spectrum of lesbian relationships—the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Carmen: “The good, the bad, and the ugly” is right!!
Valerie: I have to agree with Kayla. I know on paper all of the horrible things Rose did (and even when I forget, someone like Jane will remind me she kidnapped Mateo, for example) but I love her so much? I love that she’s so smart and manipulative and at least 90% of the evil things she did she did because she loves Luisa too much. I love that the Narrator loved them, I love that just when you thought she was gone forever, she’d pop back up, I love that she defied the bury your gays trope. And I do think Petra and JR is a good way to give us the positive queer women we deserve while also letting Rose and Luisa destroy everything they touch in the background.
Heather: See, yes! The problem with having evil LGBTQ characters is that LGBTQ people all over the world are constantly villainized and pop culture informs people’s opinions in real life and it leans into some really old tropes that came out of the Hays Code and all that — but! When you have plenty of LGBTQ characters you can have some happy, positive ones and some ones that are gonna blow everything up!
KKU: Listen, the real problem I have here is that I think Jane The Virgin has long struggled to figure out how Luisa fits into the show’s narrative, and I think her addiction problems sometimes skewed a little too dark for the show and didn’t really seem like something the writers were able to (or even willing?) to grapple with beyond being a plot device. That’s frustrating, because in every other aspect of this show, the writers are totally on top of character development, nuance, tackling dark subjects in a way that feels true to the show’s voice and scope. But that has pretty much never been the case with Luisa’s addiction? And her place in the show’s narrative has just been so inconsistent. This was true of Petra in the beginning, too, and then the writers just totally got their shit together when it came to her, making her one of the best supporting characters of the show. WHY CAN’T THEY DO THAT WITH LUISA? I think it would require a lot of course correcting, but I do think that’s possible. I think just about anything is possible on a telenovela lol I mean did you see what they did in that finale?! Luisa needs to be written as more than just a beautiful disaster for this to really work.
Heather: I think this is exactly it: The show never really knew what to do with Luisa. She’s kind of Jane’s main antagonist, early on, and obviously Mateo became the love of Jane’s life, but, you know, we started off with Luisa accidentally artificially inseminating her with Luisa’s brother’s sperm! And so much of those early seasons were all about the love triangle so that was always the A story and then something wonderful with Jane’s family for the B story and where did Luisa fit? Instead of trying to figure that out, the writers just kept sending her off to rehab or to sail on a lesbian pirate ship around the Caribbean with Rose.
KKU: And I think folding Luisa back into the main web of the show is in Jane The Virgin’s best interests because 1. Yara Martinez is one of the funniest members of the cast and 2. She also is on the same level as Gina Rodriguez when it comes to balancing comedy and drama—sometimes in the same scene, sometimes in the same sentence!
Heather: Okay! Let’s talk about Jetra 2.0 (or Petramos, I think, the shippers are calling it)! When it was announced that Rosario Dawson was coming to town to play a lesbian, how did you feel/what did you think her storyline would look like?
KKU: Hmm, when I found out Rosario Dawson was going to play a lesbian on Jane The Virgin, I had to lie down on the floor for several minutes? As I’m sure is true for a lot of folks, Rosario Dawson has had me under her spell since 2005 when I saw her in Rent. I could have never anticipated just how much I would love this Jane The Virgin storyline though. Once the blackmail thing unfolded, I desperately hung onto hope that things wouldn’t take an Evil Lesbian turn, and I’m so glad I was right!!!
Heather: I honestly thought she was going to be Luisa’s girlfriend. Because I was operating under that standard gay TV mentality of, like, well what else are they going to do with her? It’s not like they’re going to make one of the established main characters gay.
Natalie: So, admittedly, I wasn’t thrilled. I mean, I’d been a fan of hers for while — both of her film work and her activism — but then 2016 happened an my love for her came to a halt and I’ve been nursing a grudge ever since. It’s amazing what one role can do to thaw that discord (not you, Susan Sarandon, you just stay, sitting in your wrongness until the end of eternity).
(Sidenote: did you know that Rosario Dawson once produced her own telenovela spoof about voting and activism called La Pasion de la Decision?)
Valerie: I LOVE ROSARIO DAWSON. She played a character named Valerie in Josie and the Pussycats and there was no turning back for me. And most recently I had been blown away by how great she was in the Marvel Netflix universe and so frustrated by how underused she was, so I was thrilled she’d be showing up on Jane the Virgin. I’ll admit, I assumed she’d just be hitting on Petra to no avail, so I just about died when I realized the feelings might just be mutual.
Carmen: I respect every opinion in this roundtable, but also need to lay down the gauntlet and tell you all that NO ONE HAS LOVED ROSARIO DAWSON AS MUCH OR AS LONG AS I HAVE. I mean, short of people in her real life, obviously. I first fell in love with Rosario long before I knew I was a gay. She was one of the few Afro-Latinas working in Hollywood back in the late ‘90s and early Aughts. It meant a lot to me as a teenager struggling with questions about my own racial identity as a biracial, black Puerto Rican with an Anglo last name. Rosario Dawson was out there, and her presence told me that I wasn’t an anomaly. That I was OK. I’ll never forget that — what she meant to little 14 year old Carmen.
Also, then I was gay, and I had eyes, and Rosario Dawson is a beautiful human being. There’s is not a role she’s played where my jaw wasn’t left on the floor. You know when people ask, “who are your gay roots?” As in, who were the celebrities or people that helped you realize you were gay? Rosario Dawson tops my short list.
OK, I’ll wrap this soliloquy of my love to say: When I found out that she was joining the cast of Jane the Virgin and that she was going to play a lesbian, I blacked out.
Heather: When did you start hoping she and Petra would become a thing and when did you actually start believing?
KKU: In the beginning, I thought she’d have a ton of chemistry with Petra but that nothing would necessarily come of it, because television tortures me constantly with queer subtext that is never fully realized. I mean in one of their first scenes together, J.R. just bites her lip for no reason and I was like WELL IF THEY DON’T GO THERE, I’M GONNA BE VERY UPSET. I fully yelped when Petra had the sex dream about her, and it gave me a feeling reminiscent of the night when I live-watched Annalise and Eve kiss for the first time. It just feels so, so, so satisfying when my “hey there’s something gay happening here” suspicions are validated.
Valerie: I mean I started hoping the second they shared a frame. That’s how I roll. But I started believing when they were in the stairwell and Petra was upset and JR put her hand on Petra’s leg and the camera lingered on it and I lost my ability to breathe for a heartbeat and I’ve seen enough episodes of this very smart show to know that they don’t linger on things for no reason. They just don’t.
Carmen: “I started hoping the second they shared a frame” — Strong same!
Natalie: So, I definitely started hoping that Petra and JR would become a thing during their third meeting in Petra’s office. Petra tries to knock the case against her using the vast legal knowledge she’s acquired from watching Law & Order and JR answers, “Well, first of all, never trust television writers. My ex-girlfriend was one, and they just build things up for the sake of drama.” I literally screamed because, in one refrain, the show had simultaneously filled me with hope — Petra and Jane together, forever (okay, so maybe it’s not the Jane I envisioned but that’s semantics!) — and dread — “never trust tv writers?” Girl, tell me something I don’t know.
But when did I start believing? First, the haircut. As Kayla said in her review of the episode: “That’s a bi haircut if I’ve ever seen one.” Then, like Valerie, the moment in the stairwell cemented it. At that point, I was just like, “oh, it’s on!”
Heather: For me, it was the camera linger too! I love love love seeing queer rep on TV and will never grow tired of writing and talking about it, but when it comes to actually making me FEEL things in a REAL WAY, it’s not really as common as it once was — but Petra and JR made me feeeeeel things. Starting with that moment. What about y’all?
Carmen: I was so surprised by how hard I fell for them! I’m a lot like you Heather: I love talking and thinking and writing about queer representation on television, but the pathway to my genuine heart is much more narrow and tricky than it used to be. Petra and J.R. unlocked it with all the magical keys that I didn’t even know I was keeping a secret! For me a lot of that had to do with J.R.’s sexy confidence, yes, but mostly it had to do with Petra. I was always going to be an easy sell for lesbian Rosario Dawson, but I’ll be honest — Petra has long been one of my least favorite Jane the Virgin characters. She’s someone I mostly tolerate (and I agree with Kayla, the writers figured out how to reboot her character over the last two and a half seasons, which has made all the difference). That was… until J.R.
The decision to let Petra become vulnerable, that’s what did me in. To give her character someone who didn’t have to see her in her perfect dress and perfect make up and the mask she always wears, but who would love her in a sloppy ponytail and sweats and with pickle breath. I can be a lot like Petra in my own ways, I hide behind my perfectionism. It can be hard for me to let someone in. The intimacy between J.R. and Petra, that’s what sold me. I want them to work. I almost need it.
KKU: Yes yes yes they make me feel so many things! Their arc has unfolded quickly yet in a really raw, beautiful way. It’s so lovely to see a different, vulnerable side of Petra, and we’ve seen J.R. soften a bit, too. The fact that J.R. seemed so resistant to falling in love but then DID just melts my heart. Also, I just love how much they kiss on-screen? Jane The Virgin is really great about giving equal kissing billing to its straight and queer couples, which is no small thing. I think this show has some of the best kissing on television, and thanks to the J.R./Petra relationship, a lot of those kisses in the last stretch of the season were GAY.
Heather: This is a really great point! This show is filmed like a romance novel, and everything that goes along with that, the sweeping scores and the smooch smooch smooching, and the cuddles and nuzzling and all that glory — and Petra and JR really were given a chance to explore all of that the same way Jane’s been able to with her beaus. If I’d never seen this show and the Petramos gifs had popped up on my timeline, I would have thought they were fake. The way Petra just melts into their kisses. ARGHH!
Valerie: THEIR KISSES. Such good kisses. Petra smiles more than ever, even WHILE they’re kissing, and it’s so wonderful. I love the way their kisses aren’t always, Not Kissing > Kissing. It’s usually Not Kissing > Talking While Moving Closer Together > Talking While In Each Other’s Arms > Smiling and Talking with Their Faces Very Close > Kissing. If that makes sense.
Heather: It’s so funny that all of us are like, “My heart is cold and hard out of necessity because of this job. And also, “AHHH! THE KISSING KISSING KISSING!” What do you think, overall, about the Patramos arc this season?
Valerie: Overall I’m just so happy it exists. I love that it’s a combination of dramatic and sexy and funny. I love that JR hates Jane Villanueva even though Jane is one of the most likeable characters in TV history. I love that even though JR swaggered in an out-and-proud power lesbian, it ended up being Petra that had to do the pursuing. I love that finding out Petra was dating a woman wasn’t really a big deal. I JUST LOVED IT ALL.
Heather: Yes! I have loved Petra very much these last two seasons and one of my favorite things in this show’s history is how she is both simultaneously turned on by JR hating Jane and completely smitten with the news that Jane loves her. That weird little forehead peck she gave her before rushing off when Jane was hugging her — I’ve watched that scene like ten times. I think putting Petra and JR together did actually give the writers some room to play with the Petra/Jane dynamic in a way they couldn’t have before because it would have been queer-baity.
Natalie: Right. Obviously, I loved it — but, aside from the ladykisses, I think what I loved most about it is the assurance that the writers on the show see Petra as we have. In an era where queerbaiting on television is still a thing and where the leaders of our government spend their days trying to gaslight us, having someone confirm a previously unspoken truth feels so immensely comforting in a way that I didn’t expect.
Related to that, part of the reason I think straight TV critics don’t really get Petra and JR is because they’re used to taking representation for granted. They weren’t paying attention to the myriad of ways that Petra’s bisexuality has been hinted at over the years — intentional or not — so this feels like its come out of nowhere, rather than being part of the natural progression of things.
Heather: What do you think’s going to happen now that murder is afoot? Do you think one or both of them are playing each other?
KKU: NO!!!!! I think their love is very real and that even though Petra did technically lie to J.R. about her sister’s death, she was never actually playing her.
Natalie: Well, we don’t know that it’s a murder, right? I mean, the gunshot wound could prove to not be fatal. That said, I hope whatever results forces them to work through this impasse about Anežka because, yes, Petra lied about killing her but she wasn’t wrong about the threat her sister and mother posed. Between the screws and Magda hiding out in bathroom, you know that someone was supposed to go over that railing that night. Plus, while Petra’s girlfriend may have wanted to know the truth about what happened that night, there’s absolutely no good that can come from Petra’s lawyer knowing… which is why you probably shouldn’t sleep with your clients.
Valerie: I think their love is real — THE REALEST — but I think they are both Slytherins and while that means they could very easily take over the world together, it also means that if something one of them does threatens the other’s priorities, not even the strongest attraction or deepest love could keep them together. I do think now that they have this shooting thing, their priorities will be more intertwined and their self-preservation more linked, which is probably going to be stressful for them but also easier to be in it together.
Carmen: I am a Petramos True Believer, okay? Nothing the show will throw at me will ever doubt my faith in the foundation of their love. NOTHING!! So don’t even try it, Jane the Virgin. This is an official warning.
Heather: I hate myself for saying this but I’m a true believer too. We should probably talk about that Michael reveal, huh? Loved it? Hated it? What do you think is really going on there?
KKU: Ugh I love it and I hate it. I love the super over-the-top telenovela twists on this show, because I am pretty much Rogelio. But I also am extremely Team Rafael and hate that this throws a total wrench in all the positive progress Rafael and Jane have made. I do really, really hope that this is not actually Michael and that there are some mask/plastic surgery shenanigans afoot. Because I think the ongoing grief storyline that Michael’s death sparked has been a really great part of this past season, and I would hate for any of that to be undone.
Valerie: I am also Team Rafael and was never Team Michael and he is about as interesting to me as a raw potato, but I agree that when he died, it sparked some really rich storytelling about grief and loss and moving on. I guess in this metaphor he only became interesting after he got cooked. (Ba dum kssh.) I hope it’s a long-lost twin like it would be in a telenovela, though I don’t know why Rose would have had such a devilish grin when she told Rafael if it was just a twin. Also, I think it would be retconning too much if Michael was alive, because they had been foreshadowing his death since day one via the Narrator. But when it comes down to it I trust this show and its genius and have to hope that whatever they decide will ultimately be the best thing for the story.
Natalie: Purely as a function of telenovela storytelling, I loved it. I’ve seen others put it up there with the reveal at the end of season one of The Good Place and I agree with that — it was really, really good. I was so busy pondering who Rafael’s parents could be and what’d happened between JR and Petra and Alba getting married that I never saw the Michael reveal coming.
But, as the TV team’s lone #TeamMichael representative (really, y’all?), I’m just hoping it’s not really him. I don’t want all the heartache that Jane’s gone through to be for naught and I want to believe that the Michael that Jane fell in love with was better than having disappeared on his family for years. Sin Rostro’s criminal empire was built on changing people’s face so I hope this is just someone meant to look like Michael and spy on Rafael to get dirt on Luisa. What’s the incentive for Rose to tell Raf about Michael anyway?
Carmen: Ummm, you guys? I really hated it. I am just going to stand in my truth and say it: I don’t believe Michael should have been brought back. I spent a lot of time processing this over the weekend, because I feel like I am the only person who feels this way. But I think that bringing Michael back from the dead absolutely undoes all of the hard work and growth Jane was put in over the last season and a half (or roughly five years, in narrative time). Why did they have us watch her find the strength to pick herself back from the rock bottom of her depression, if Michael was always going to come back? Why spend episodes in therapy with Jane, if Michael was always going to come back? Why have Alba open up the windows in Jane’s bedroom and promise her granddaughter that one day the sun would shine again, if Michael was always going to come back? I think it does a disservice to Jane, to the show, and to viewers who have found their own way back from grief and depression.
That said, I’m hopeful that this isn’t Michael at all and we are all dealing with some high level Rose crime planning of some sort. Hopefully to bring her back to Luisa. I still think, even if he’s not Michael, seeing him like that is cruel for Jane. But, if it leads us back full circle to the OG lesbian couple that started all the Villanueva drama to begin with, then I am willing to deal with it.