Jane The Virgin just aired the third episode of its second season, but even though the show is so young, it's already critically acclaimed, due in large part to its incredible star Gina Rodriguez. So a big a congratulations is due for the cast and crew of the CW sitcom on Tuesday when it received a Breakthrough Series nomination for the Gotham Awards. And it's groundbreaking, not only that Jane was nominated, but because this is the first time that the Gotham Independent Film Awards have expanded from film to television.
And although the other nominees are great in their own ways —The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Mr. Robot, UnREAL and Transparent are all incredible — the win should go to Jane The Virgin, because that would be the best, most triumphant win ever. The show exemplifies the kind of quality TV that incited the Gotham Awards to create this category in the first place.
Fans of Jane The Virgin know that no one deserves the show's astronomical success more than its shining star, 31-year old Gina Rodriguez: off-screen, she has so much in common with her character, the loving, inspirational, brave Jane Villanueva. Which is why it was so thrilling, and admittedly, shocking, that Rodriguez took home the Golden Globe Award for Best TV Comedy Actress this year for her performance as Jane. Not because she didn't deserve it, but because unfortunately it's still shocking when people of color get their due at awards shows. In her emotional, powerful acceptance speech, Rodriguez said: "This award is so much more than myself. It represents a culture that wants to see themselves as heroes."
But unfortunately, when it comes to diversity and representation on television, it seems like it's always one step forward, two steps back: though the Globes are often a good forecast of the Emmys, Jane The Virgin was totally snubbed, and it was the most frustrating snubbery from the Emmys this year. Rodriguez wasn't nominated, even though she was on the cover of Emmy magazine for being a presenter.
Ever gracious and graceful and humble, Rodriguez' responded to the snub by pointing to Tatiana Maslany, and the long road it took her to get nominated for her intricate performance on Orphan Black, telling E! News that if she had to, she would "wait her turn" to be recognized. But she shouldn't have to.
Are the other nominees for the Gotham Award commendable? Yes. Are they innovative and culturally significant? Yes, all to certain degrees; Transparent especially is definitely not your typical TV series story, and it's exciting that streaming services like Amazon are making this kind of television possible. But still, why does Gina Rodriguez have to "wait her turn"? Even with so many mediums for entertainment now, there's still a dearth of representation of people of color, stories of color, narratives of color, not to mention the failings of diversity behind the scenes in Hollywood.
Is it selfish of me to want to see a show that does not center whiteness win the Gotham Award? I don't think so, and that's the problem: wanting representation is not selfish. And even though the rest of the shows in the category are competitive, I hope that the Gotham Award goes to Jane, to prove that these "alternative" narratives aren't so different after all, and destroy the myth that comedies, dramas or sitcoms that are not white-washed don't have the potential to be successful.
And even though Jane The Virgin has already received a combined 18 nominations and ten awards, including a Peabody, it deserves even more, because it's making history. There can't be a limit to lifting up shows like Jane The Virgin, and we should be praising them now, not some time in the future. Representation shouldn't have to wait.