Jane the Virgin’s Showrunner on How Jane’s First Time Came Together

By
Jane + Michael.

Last night’s episode of Jane the Virgin was a momentous occasion: Jane Gloriana Villanueva has sex for the first time. However, instead of showing the moment between the two newlyweds, Jane and Michael, the show opted to use the figurative language of animation, with cartoon Jane and Michael blasting off in a rocket. “I wanted her to have a private moment,” Jane showrunner Jennie Snyder Urman said in a phone call after the episode aired. “I just know the characters so well and feel so close to them and think about them all the time. I didn't really want to watch them have sex for the first time. I wanted Jane to have that moment to be private and to exist in the intimacy of the viewer's mind and the space that we're not showing, you know?”

Part of going with the animation instead of shooting the actors doing a sex scene was because Urman didn’t want the show to stray from its family-friendly roots. “We’re not HBO. You're not going to see boobs; you’re not going to see butts,” she said. In the writers room, they discussed whether teenagers would be able to watch this with their parents. “I know a lot of mothers and daughters watch this show together and I wanted them to be able to still talk about it, because I like that aspect of the show and that audience that’s younger. It didn't feel to me that it was about the act so much as the expectations around it and the emotional journey that Jane had to take.”

And, well, the sex was fine. Jane's first time wasn’t the Champagne-popping, parting-clouds moment that she had envisioned. Instead, she faked her orgasm with Michael in an effort to make the moment seem more perfect — they finished together! — than it actually was. “The biggest thing was that afterward she'd have stars in her eyes and it would have been magical and perfect. We were just trying to debunk that,” Urman said, "and [have it be a] more realistic experience and also talk about the role of expectations and how it can get in the way of the actual experience.” She added, “The show tries to live in that space between fantasy and reality. So you wanted to see what Jane expected of it and then what really happens and then find her version of a happy ending within a more realistic context.”

Losing her virginity ends up spurring a greater identity crisis for Jane. After all, her identity as a "virgin" has been baked into the title of the show. “It was something she held on to, and was proud of herself for holding out," said Urman. "After it was gone, we thought she might have a really complicated sense of identity loss at that moment." So they returned to an image that's reappeared throughout the show: the crumpled magnolia flower that Alba said symbolized her virginity, which Jane had framed above her bedroom wall.

“We wanted to get back into the symbol that we started this show with and unpack it a little more and show what was problematic about it for Jane. It had a psychological effect that was difficult to get over,” said Urman. “We wanted to have a language around losing your virginity — you know, the loss is built into the phrase, and so Jane has that in the extreme. It makes you feel like you've lost something of value, instead of gaining something, and that's what we wanted to emphasize in Jane's journey.”

So what happens to the title now that Jane isn’t a virgin anymore? Like we saw in the episode, Jane the Virgin is going to keep playing with its title. “We'll start out by crossing it out and then we'll start to cross it out in different ways because of different symbols that are coming up on the episode and then, depending on the theme, it could be Jane the Person Who Doesn’t Like Her Mom's Boyfriend or Jane the Person Who's Having Trouble Disciplining Her Son,” said Urman. “I'm just going to try and keep reminding people that she was always so much more than a virgin, and that that identity is complicated, and you are a lot of things.”

So, yes, the show is still called Jane the Virgin.