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Comparisons to Ugly Betty are inevitable for Jane the Virgin. Not only is it one of the few American telenovela adaptations to make it to the air, it’s the second Latino family dramedy to come from executive producer Ben Silverman.
But Silverman kept relatively mum during Jane the Virgin‘s Friday panel at the Television Critics Association, with showrunner Jennie Snyder Urman instead talking about how she sees her show resembling Ugly Betty.
“I wanted to describe it as Ugly Betty meets Gilmore Girls,” explained Snyder Urman, saying the three generations of women depicted in her dramedy most closely resemble the WB/CW show where she briefly served as a writer. “The two of them together is that strange mark I’m trying to hit.”
Based on Venezuelan telenovela Juana la virgen, The CW’s spin is decidedly less soapy, and Snyder Urman promises it will never stray too far.
“I have a very specific tone that I’m trying to hit,” she said. “At the same time, this is a telenovela. It’s a tricky tone. It’s one I’m excited about handling. I didn’t want to do a straight adaption and a satire. You’re writing an ode to the telenovela.”
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Extreme telenovela storylines — evil twins are not off the table — are something the executive producer wants to throw in occasionally, hoping it will be funny as long as the characters remain “grounded and relatable.”
Speaking of being grounded, the extreme premise of Jane the Virgin will not be ignored. Jane’s (Gina Rodriguez) accidental insemination during a routine gynecologist visit will have lingering effects outside of just her pregnancy.
“I find it incredibly hard to believe a girl who gets accidentally inseminated who doesn’t sue,” Snyder Urman admitted. “That’s something we’ll explore.”
As for the series’ star, Rodriguez charmed the room when she was asked why she passed on a role with the predominantly Latina cast on Lifetime soap Devious Maids.
“I became an actor to see myself onscreen,” she said. “Every role that I’ve chosen has been one that I think will push forward the idea of my culture. I wasn’t going to let my introduction to the world be a story that’s been told many times.”
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