“Jane the Virgin” has lesbian characters and other reasons to watch the premiere tonight

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A show called Jane the Virgin might not be automatically appealing to queer women, but the new CW series would be great TV no matter what it was called. The dramedy is heavily influenced by telenovelas, as are the women of the show. Jane Villanueva (played expertly by Gina Rodriguez), her mother, Xiomara, and her grandmother, Alba, are a tight knit trio. Xiomara had Jane while she was young and unmarried, so Jane’s whole life has been a lesson in saving herself for marriage. She has a patient boyfriend and works hard at a Miami hotel, so when a routine visit to the lady doctor turns her life upside down, Jane finds herself in plot worthy of a telenovela she watches with her mom and Abuela.

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Developed by Jennie Snyder Urman (Emily Owens M.D.), the show has several queer and feminist elements, including two recurring lesbian-identified characters that are central to the main story. One is Dr. Luisa Alver (Yara Martinez). An OBGYN who walks in on her wife cheating on her with her assistant, Luisa is a little distracted at work when Jane comes in for a routine pap smear. Unfortunately Luisa is too busy trying to stop herself from crying in the bathroom to concentrate fully when she’s handed a pap in the room right next to another where she’s going to inseminate another woman (who turns out to be her sister-in-law implanting Luisa’s brother’s sperm without his knowledge. See? TELENOVELA!)

Luisa quickly realizes her mistake but it’s too late, and Jane finds out she’s pregnant. The baby daddy? Luisa’s brother, Rafael, who also happens to have met Jane once last summer, and they even shared a kiss. Let’s just say it’s a little messy, which is why it’s oh-so-fun to watch.

“There’s a big juicy storyline,” Jennie Snyder Urman said of the Luisa role. “I love how the writers write her. They sort of made her into this lovable train wreck character. And it’s a really optimistic way to deliver really bad news, which I responded to. So the part was originally smaller. You’ll see her love affair in the second episode, there’s a surprising twist. Because it’s a telenovella so you have to go for it in terms of the proportions of the world, and then what would keep all the relationship grounded but also it creates a fun world.”

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Jennie said that Luisa is in only a handful of episodes of the first season as Yara Martinez is also in Amazon’s series Alpha House, but that there will be some legal issues she’ll inevitably have to deal with, which leads to the second lesbian character: Rose, Luisa’s ex-lover and a lawyer. Played by Bridget Regan, Rose tries to advise her ex in the pilot without fully signing on to defend her should she need to hire someone. Seems like it was a bad break up!

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“You’ll like that their sexuality is not the issue of the show but that these are fully-formed characters,” Jennie said. “I always like to have characters where sexuality is not the issue but its just part of the fabric. In Miami it’s a very gay friendly fun place to set a show.”

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Jane the Virgin is largely a show about women and their relationships. Love and baby-making sex are obviously part as well, but the conversations had, the comedy, the perfect casting all combine to make the CW series worth the space on your DVR.

“I like to write female characters, of every sexual orientation,” Jennie said. “Its always for me, I’m always, I just love writing female characters. I’ve struggled more with men, honestly, so it’s always—one of my characters always is [gay]. There’s always one in the friend group I write.”

Jane the Virgin premieres tonight at 9:00 pm Eastern/8:00 pm Central on The CW.

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