From Scandal to Grey’s Anatomy, Jane the Virgin is now another primetime show that tackles abortion head-on. Show runner Jennie Snyder Urman explains why the show chooses to put the spotlight on Xiomara (Andrea Navedo) and her decision to have an abortion. For Urman, Xo is a strong, forty-something woman who is “very clear” about her choice — and the show wants to honor that. Not only does Xo choose to go through with an abortion, but unlike what audiences have seen in most shows thus far, she’s firm and isn’t emotionally-struck by her choice. Urman reveals the significance in Xo’s rhyme and reason.
Accidental pregnancies are nothing new in the telenovela-inspired series. (Cough, Jane. Cough, Petra.) But both Jane (Gina Rodriguez) and Petra (Yael Groblas) had their babies even if they weren’t ready. It’s time the show has a woman with a different point of view. Xo puts her foot down and refuses to have kids with longtime love Rogelio (Jaime Camil), so why would it be different with her fling Esteban (Keller Wortham)? Xo caving in and having the baby is not something Urman would ever want for her characters.
“If Xo were to have that baby, that would be a really strong message that I did not want to send, which is that a forty-something woman who has raised a child and doesn't want a baby should have it anyway,” Urman explains. Again, Xo remains confident about her choice, which is refreshing to see on screen. “I didn’t want it to be really dramatic, Xo is not tortured… She’s very clear and I think most abortions are that and that’s an important thing to reflect on TV,” says Urman. “If you’re sure, you’re sure. And she’s sure.”
Of course, tensions arise when Xo’s mom Alba (Ivonne Coll) finds out. But portraying Alba’s anti-abortion point of view is just as important as Xo’s. “It lets us have a discussion about it without discounting that point of view… It’s just looking at it within the microcosm of the family — how can they push forward past that? They move on,” she explains.
No matter how much Xo may value her mom’s opinion, that never makes her reconsider what she did. “That doesn’t change who she is and what her choice is,” says Urman. “We did a lot of groundwork in Season 2 saying Xo does not want a baby. To me, there was no other thing she could do,” she says.
Just like in real life, everyone on Jane the Virgin seems to have a different point of view — and all are valid. “I’m an optimistic and empathetic person… Everybody’s choices are different and if we could just respect each other’s choices, wouldn’t that be a nice thing?” says Urman. It absolutely would, and this is a start.
Images: The CW (3)