'Jane the Virgin' becomes Adam the Virgo in season 4 shift

NOSELL

The CW

 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017 - 5:05pm

Ah, friends. We begin again with our Jane, or wait a second… our Adam? Season four of CW’s “Jane the Virgin” opens not with the show’s namesake, but with one Adam Eduardo Alvaro (Tyler Posey, “Teen Wolf”) instead — Jane’s teenage love, with his own sultry-speaking narrator in tow. Viewers met Adam in the season three finale when he brought Jane (Gina Rodriguez, “Deepwater Horizon”) a letter Michael had written for her and stuffed away in the floorboards of their old house. Season four now premieres with our new female narrator, voiced by Vanessa Marshall, setting the scene for Jane and Adam’s romance from his side of the story.

Adam was a tenant of the house Jane and Michael (Brett Dier, “Ravenswood”) once lived, where he discovered what he believes to be a stranger’s love note. Cut to three years later, Adam discovers that this letter was written to none other than our Jane, who, as Adam’s narrator mentions, he proposed to when he was 19 years old.

A season premiere beginning with a brand-new character in the place of the protagonist — even going as far as to replace her title sequence with his own, “Adam the Virgo” — seems jarring as a season kick-off to a show named for its main character. However, I believe the writers knew they needed to give this new love interest a grand entrance to nestle him in the hearts of viewers.

Once Jane’s narrator regains the reigns on the episode, we find out that Jane and Adam decide to get engaged when he receives his acceptance to NYU — only to have their love story cut short when Adam calls off the engagement on their wedding day. They don’t see each other again until they’re reunited by Michael’s letter, almost 10 years later.

The existence of this new heartthrob and this novel-worthy tale of, “finding their way back,” seems to blossom out of thin air. 65 “chapters” in, “Jane the Virgin” has stretched each character’s plot line so thin, the writers were forced to backpedal and retroactively create a new gamechanger: Jane’s real first love.

While telenovelas don’t always adhere to the realm of believability, the torrid tale of teen Jane and Adam was out of character for our protagonist, who was laboriously painted as responsible and even-minded throughout the past seasons – even in her childhood  flashbacks. The fact that Jane’s relationship with love thus far in the show was seemingly unaffected by a broken engagement in her teen years is quite a reach in her character build.

The one saving grace of the Adam plotline, however, is the introduction of his female, sharp-tongued narrator. The show’s main narrator usually provides comic relief from the sometimes emotionally exhausting pace of a telenovela and, as he says himself, helps “shape the story.” With Adam’s narrator playing catch up to all the entangled storylines, she acts as the voice of the skeptic viewer. She adds an air of self-deprecation to the show, helping the show mock its own downfalls, like highlighting the use of classic telenovela ploys. “You led me to believe Rafael was into Jane, with all the misleading push-ins and long glances,” she shoots at the male narrator.

Sometimes when a show is too self-aware, it can feel too much like you’re sitting in the writers’ room, hearing their gears turn; this narrators acknowledgment of the soap operas downfalls, however, keeps the show treading the line between good TV and your grandma’s soaps.

Another way that Adam’s narrator underlined an inherent weakness in the Jane empire was by speaking for the first time viewer, trying to conceive such long winded, twisted character arcs, since she is brought in three seasons deep. As I sat watching the premiere with my mother — who tuned out at season two — I had to pause consistently to have sufficient time to explain how our characters had gotten here.

My continuation with the show is, in no part, thanks to these now overused tangential plots, but rather that I’ve come to want the best for Jane as if she was a dear friend. And there is something to be said about writing that makes you tune in again solely to feed your attachment to a character. While my loin-driven loyalty will always remain with Jane’s baby daddy and their happy ending, perhaps if Adam’s emphatic introduction is any sign, I could learn to love again. After all, there’s one thing this season premiere laid out for certain – at least for one strand of the greater thread of Jane’s world – we will see more of Adam.