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Developed by Jennie Snyder Urman, the whimsical Jane the Virgin — invoking hints of Pushing Daisies — centers on 23-year-old Jane Villanueva (The Hollywood Reporter‘s Next Big Thing Gina Rodriguez), who finds herself pregnant. The only thing is, she’s a virgin.
Following a critical and ratings boon for The Flash, which became The CW’s most-watched premiere in network history with 6.4 million in live-plus-3, Jane the Virgin is already receiving strong notices among television critics. (Rodriguez’s impressive showing at the summer Television Critics Association press tour helped.) THR’s chief television critic Tim Goodman ranked it among his top new fall shows, calling Rodriguez “the season’s breakout star.” Vulture’s Margaret Lyons wrote in her review, “Jane knows itself right off the bat,” while the Los Angeles Times’ Robert Lloyd declared it “one of the best things to come out of the fall season.”
Ask Urman, who ran Emily Owens M.D. for The CW from 2012-13, and Rodriguez, 29, about the show’s forthcoming debut and you’ll hear two different outlooks. While Urman is noticeably antsy for the clock to strike 9 o’clock on Oct. 13 — “I’m terrified!” she admitted in September; “I want people to watch it but there’s nothing I can do to affect that” — Rodriguez is less so.
“I can’t live in that nervous world. I can’t, because then I don’t think I’m going to give my best work to the craft. Then I’ll just be worrying about what everybody else thinks,” she says. “That’s what we do in life: We worry about what everyone else thinks and we don’t really focus on what’s been given to us.”
Adds Rodriguez: “God gave me this really awesome opportunity. I’ve been working really hard in this industry to try to get where I’m at right now and if it doesn’t happen the way I want it to happen in my head, then f— it. What are you going to do, right?”
And to say Rodriguez, who broke through in 2012’s Sundance title Filly Brown, is passionate about the show is an understatement.
“I have an amazing creator who I love and who writes like a monster. Her staff is ridiculous,” she says. “We can’t go wrong. Cream rises to the top. If people give us a chance and they actually watch this show, I think they’re really, really going to like it.”
The conceit, based on a Venezuelan telenovela, seems over-the-top at first. In addition to Jane’s unexpected pregnancy, she’s engaged to a seemingly perfect boyfriend, meeting her biological father and the father of her baby is married to an awful woman. With so many balls in the air in Jane’s life, it’s easy to be overwhelmed. But, as Rodriguez says, that’s life.
“How do we balance in our real lives?” she asks, before rattling off a list of things dominating her life at the moment. “A day at a time. Living the truth. Trying to be the best person I can be.”
Rodriguez isn’t worried about the future (she says next week’s episode “is even better”), recalling a question an interviewer asked about where Jane’s journey goes from here now that the surprise of her pregnancy is established.
“That’s the kicker,” she says, fending off any worry that the show will stall. “That is what sets it all in motion. To watch somebody through their journey with integrity, faith, foundation, being grounded — that’s difficult. That’s the journey you get to see with Jane.”
Jane the Virgin premieres 9 p.m. Monday on The CW.
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