After an annoyingly long* hiatus, Jane the Virgin is finally back in our lives. And it comes along with good news: Gina Rodriguez's Golden Globes win for Best Actress in a Television Series (Comedy or Musical) is paying off immediately. Already a hit, even more people are curious about her show now, and it, well, shows. Jane the Virgin returned to its highest ratings since it debuted back in October. The longevity of the show's buzziness will still be up in the air for a while longer, but this is obviously a good thing for the series — and a good sign for The CW, who might be learning a crucial lesson about what audiences respond to in their programming.
Supernatural just got renewed for a mind-boggling eleventh season, so it's unlikely The CW will pull itself out of certain habits anytime soon. But Jane the Virgin is undoubtedly refreshing, a series that stands out on a network that's long had a certain reputation for stale grabs at the "youth vote." I've enjoyed more than my fair share of CW shows, it should be said, but Jane the Virgin symbolizes what could, if they let it, be a great new era for The CW: An era when the rippling abs and broody faces of their stars are less a selling point than the stories they're telling. Where the series they're selling to that young-people audience feel less like grabs at trends and more like alive, dynamic stories that reflect what so many young people today are actually concerned about. This isn't to say these were completely lacking on The CW previously; but there's no doubt we need more of them. Jane's success means they've succeeded this time around; it also means they (and all networks) have more work left to do.
Jane the Virgin, in turn, was immediately notable for its representation, an heir to Ugly Betty's portrayal of latino characters as the heroes of their own lives. It's something Gina Rodriguez mentioned in her Golden Globes speeches, and it's something that resonates — in ways both very personal and, to any executives who might be reading this, crucial to business practice. A diversity of available and accessible stories in our media are crucial to our culture, but studios and networks need to understand that they are crucial to their business. Diverse stories have proven that they will rake in the cash and the ratings when they are deftly handled, and Jane the Virgin's continued success at The CW proves it once again.
What I hope is that, as many hits have in the past, Jane the Virgin will inspire more shows like it. That doesn't necessarily mean more telenovela-inspired bubbly soaps, but more shows with a commitment to portraying the underrepresented, with quality stories to walk through. Jane the Virgin should not have the whole weight of CW representation resting on its shoulders; we need more. So let's use it as a guidepost, for now, and as proof that more shows like it are most definitely possible.
*OK, the hiatus was standard-length. But this show's too delightful to be off the air!
Image: The CW