7:00pm PT by Jean Bentley
'Jane the Virgin' Creator Explains That "Fairytale" Series Finale
[This story contains spoilers from the Jane the Virgin series finale, "Chapter One Hundred."]
The CW closed out one of its most network-defining hits Wednesday when Jane the Virgin, its genre-bending hourlong dramedy and telenovela send-up, wrapped its critically praised (and award-winning) run with a satisfying series finale.
The episode featured a happy ending for its titular character, as Jane (Gina Rodriguez) married her on- and off-again boyfriend, Rafael (Justin Baldoni), and sold the novel telling the story of her life for $500,000. Those events transpired after the penultimate hour resolved the rest of the Jennie Snyder Urman-led show's lingering storylines, including the Sin Rostro conspiracy and the new life for Jane's returned-from-the-dead former husband, Michael (Brett Dier). And, to hear Urman tell it, a wedding was always in the cards for the series finale.
"Along the way, there's a million things that happened that I could've never dreamed of without this amazing writers room and years of doing the show and learning about the actors," she said, "but I knew where we were going to ultimately end up, and I knew that once I knew how long the show would go, I could really figure out how many swerves along the road before you got to the final destination."
Below, Urman discusses the importance of giving viewers closure, the most important scene in the finale, and whether she is planning to try another Jane the Virgin spinoff in the future.
The ending tied up pretty much every single loose end, and that was clearly on purpose.
I felt like we owed that to the audience after having them come along this journey with us for all of these seasons where every year we would leave them on this crazy cliffhanger that would change everything and be so shocking, and have you anxious to see what would happen next. I felt like the promise of building in all of those along the way is that by the end you are going to be led to a conclusion and things are going to be tied up, and we're not going to have crazy cliffhangers, it's going to feel like the end of a story.
That is built into the DNA of telenovelas. They're always built with an ending, and the ending is usually a wedding. All of that was important to me — that they're not conceived as shows that go on forever, that there's an ending that you're building to. That was important to me structurally and sort of foundationally. Beyond that, the other big part of telenovelas is that the good people get what they deserve and the bad villains get what they deserve. So I wanted all the good people of Jane to have an ending that would make you feel warm, and like life is going to be good for these people you've come to care about so much.
Plus we're living in a time where happy endings are what the audience wants, or at least what I want.
Yes, especially for a character like Jane and her family who you've been with through struggles. I wanted to see their dreams come true. It's a fairy tale in a lot of ways, too, and that, again, builds to a version of happily ever after. You know it's not going to be as neat as that. But happy as a sort of thesis statement was important to me, and you came to the conclusion where you felt like, "I've been on this journey and it's come to a close."
The show touched on so many social issues throughout its five seasons, but one in particular that feels like it would have been different if Jane started two years later is the Alba/immigration storyline. That could have been a little sadder, a little more bleak if you were talking about it two years later.
Yes — if you're thinking about issues there, that there's going to be an ICE raid, those stakes before she got her green card. I think that definitely would've been threaded through. At the same time, we were still dealing with all of these things. I think it was in the second season when policemen were at her house because of a noise complaint next door, and all of these big fears came up. All of these things had been happening for so long. The vulnerability of being undocumented, that has been such a big part of so many people's lives for so long. But now it's getting more increasingly dire, increasingly dark with this administration, and also more light shown on it. I'm not sure the ways in which that would've changed. Ultimately we would've written this story for Alba (Ivonne Coll), but it might've had some of the bigger terrors of the Trump administration threaded through.
The reveal that Mateo was the narrator is something fans had guessed at earlier in the show's run. Why did you save that reveal for the end as well?
I feel like they thought he was the narrator but they never caught the extra piece of it, that the reason he had an accent was because he became a famous voiceover artist. I'm glad. Two things: One is that that final piece is the final piece that we're dropping in the finale and also validating some theories. The piece that he was a voiceover artist and was telling his mom's story, or narrating it, was the final piece of it. And I think knowing where we were going to go the whole time is probably why a lot of audience members thought maybe that was the case. If you know where you're going then you're threading in clues appropriately. It was important to me that the ending wasn't, "Wait, what the fuck? That doesn't make sense!" I wanted it to make sense within the course read of the show, that you could go back and watch it from the beginning and understand that that was where we were building to.
Jane's literal wink at the end seemed like a final nod to the magical realism and the narration and the other storytelling devices that were so integral to the show.
[The show] is so aware of its telenovela roots. It's constantly told the audience, "This is a telenovela," after all, so I think it's that final confirmation. We've broken the fourth wall in various ways, but that final wink between Jane and the audience I thought was a nice way to go off. Everyone is part of the understanding of the ending.
The spinoff didn't go to series. What do you want to do next? Would you try again given how much love The CW obviously has for Jane?
Not right now. I think [spinoff writer] Valentina Garza did such a great job and it was really what I could've imagined in terms of a spinoff. For whatever reason, that incarnation didn't work for them. I was happy with it, and I was really proud of it. I felt like if that doesn't work then the nice, other side of that is putting Jane to bed and really letting the ending sit, and letting it exist as a whole thing and not letting it continue on. I've found that silver lining — that it allows Jane to have its own ending and you never know what's around the corner. But right now I have no plans to [continue].
What's the process of writing and creating something new versus fostering new writers and new ideas? What's the difference for you creatively and what are you focusing on right now?
A few different things. I love fostering new voices and working with writers to help achieve what they want to achieve, and support their voices. I'm really enjoying that. Getting shows on the air that other people run is really a fabulous feeling because running a show is incredibly hard work. So I'm enjoying the development process, and I have really great writers that we're working with as a company. Joanna Klein, she's brilliant developer of material, so I'm really enjoying that. I have some things that I want to write. I'm trying to figure out which idea I want to go into next, because I have a few and I want to be sure to order it a certain way. But I feel like it's a really exciting time for me because I'm reading a lot of material and thinking about a lot of different stories, and getting really excited to push new things out into the world. Finding a script that you love that somebody else wrote is a real blessing, because it's so exciting, and we have a few of those. I'm hopeful that people will get to see them eventually. I like to cheerlead for other people.
That was definitely a theme of Jane, too — cheerleading other people and their accomplishments.
Yes, celebrating all accomplishments. Totally.
What's your biggest takeaway from the whole Jane experience?
Something that struck me the first season and continued to build throughout was the importance of representation and seeing yourself onscreen, and how I could understand that intellectually but didn't really understand it emotionally until I did Jane and would get so much feedback from people. Through conversations with Gina, and understanding what it's like to look at the TV landscape and not see yourself and how limited that is, and how affirmative it is if you see people that look like you onscreen. That's something I will take with me always and really try to lift up other voices that represent communities that I'm not a part of. That's something that's so important to me.
I think the other big takeaway is that I like to write optimistically, and I like to write shows that bring joy. I think that's a real motivation I didn't quite know about myself. But I'm pretty sure about it now — that I like writing about good people in the world and how life can be difficult, too, and you don't have to be an antihero to be interesting.
What was the No. 1 thing you knew you had to include in the finale?
I had to have J.R. (Rosario Dawson) come back for Petra (Yael Grobglas). I so wanted Petra to end up with her big love, and I found that so moving, so that was a big part of it. And then I needed to have a porch swing moment with the three women as they said goodbye to the version of themselves that always lives close to each other, and could come over at a moment's notice. That porch swing scene is so seminal to the show, and seminal to the finale as well. And I have the porch swing at my house now so I can sit in it all time. That's where I sit when I'm sad.