SPOILER ALERT: This story contains details of tonight’s Jane The Virgin Season 1 finale.
EXCLUSIVE: Perhaps in more conventional hands on a more conventional network, Jane The Virgin would have ended up being just another one-note comedy full of predictability and platitudes. Instead the much-awaited freshman CW series about a young woman who gets pregnant by accidental insemination delivered an astute, poignant and sparkling first season of dramedy that even when you saw the initial storyline coming to an end left you wondering what was coming next. That’s exactly why I made it one of my Top 10 Shows of 2014 halfway through its first cycle. Based on the Venezuelan telenovela Juana la Virgen, JTV seamlessly melded cultures and preconceptions, not to mention conception itself, into something very much its own.
With tonight’s Season 1 finale, the January-renewed Jane The Virgin found Golden Globe winner Gina Rodriguez’s title character giving birth to a little boy as her mother Xiomara (Andrea Navedo) and her long-lost biological father and TV star Rogelio (Jaime Camil) got married on a drunken Sin City night. And then there was a reconciliation of a sort for Jane with rich hotelier Rafael (Justin Baldoni), her child’s biological father, as well as her former fiancé Michael (Brett Dier) — both of whom want to be with her. To add to the already complicated competing situations another sperm sample of Rafael’s that suddenly has come into the possession of his estranged wife Petra (Yael Grobglas). There also was a kidnapping cliffhanger.
With all that in the mix, I chatted with executive producers Ben Silverman and Jennie Snyder Urman about the last-second abduction of the just-born Mateo on tonight’s finale as well as where the show plans on going after that twist, the characters it has and the new ones we can expect to see next season. And what happens to Jane The Virgin when Jane is no longer a virgin?
DEADLINE: Honestly, you had to have the baby stolen by Sin Rostro that early – we couldn’t even enjoy the moment?
SNYDER URMAN: That was the clip that we were building to from when we began this show. There’s a specific reason that she is taking the baby. We’ll find out what it is right when we come back in Season 2 because we pick up pretty continuous. You find out what she wants and what it will take to get the baby back.
DEADLINE: Why did you decide to have Season 2 begin right after Season 1? A lot of shows put a little bit of distance between their seasons.
SNYDER URMAN: Well, for me the birth of the baby was so emotional, and the taking away of the baby is really dramatic. So I felt like you can’t skip over that moment in storytelling about how Jane finds out, what happens and the steps that they need to take in order to get the baby back. It seems too huge for our heroine to not actually explore.
DEADLINE: Jane The Virgin feels like a show that doesn’t have a bookend, especially with having the baby born at the end of Season 1.
SILVERMAN: Say that, type it, trade it, stream it.
SNYDER URMAN: The way that the writers have been thinking about each season, for however many it goes, is to have this home story. The first season was a story about a girl who has her life planned out and who was accidentally inseminated and the conclusion to that is the birth. It’s one complete story, and telenovelas are really good at starting the story and then, you know, coming to some satisfying conclusion. The birth felt like it had to happen in this season.
DEADLINE: So do you have an end to the series planned?
SNYDER URMAN: We know how the whole story ends, but there’s a lot of twists and turns in different directions getting there. We’re lucky — we have Gina, who can do anything. Our whole ensemble is great, and we hope it goes on for a long time.
DEADLINE: So, Jennie, when you say you know how the story ends, have you already figured out how the second season is going to get us there?
SNYDER URMAN: Yes, yes. We’ve spent time in the writers room with the writers, and we went through most of Season 2 and how it led us to a Season 3, knock on wood. We have that because you like to leave things that launch the story into the next area. You know, you get a little nervous at the beginning of a season because you think, oh there’s just so much material, especially for 22 episodes. But we know what are we going to do, and I hope people like it. Now, It’s how do three very strong women raise a boy? That seems like an interesting journey for the second season.
DEADLINE: For the second season, it looks like Jane not only has a baby but she actually has her mother and father as married parents.
SNYDER URMAN: “Will that marriage last” will be a question that we’ll definitely get into.
SILVERMAN: What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
DEADLINE: Will we learn who the narrator is in Season 2?
SNYDER URMAN: Eventually the narrator will be revealed, but I can’t quite say when.
SILVERMAN: Not in Season 2.
DEADLINE: OK, but are we going to see some other characters coming into Season 2 that might challenge that marriage or change other aspects of the show?
SNYDER URMAN: Definitely. I have been waiting to bring in Rogelio’s first wife, who has kind of hinted was a big true love of his. So we’re going to bring her into that second season. We’ve set up certain other people that are going to make their way into our world, and I think you haven’t seen the last of some people who you haven’t seen in a while.
DEADLINE: Could someone who also might appear on the scene be a little brother or sister to Mateo now that Petra’s got that sperm sample?
SNYDER URMAN: Yes, exactly. On our show we try to do a few things at once. We like to have real emotional, genuine emotional developments. We like to have big telenovela twists and turns, and we like to have those comic situations that suddenly affect peoples’ lives. And Petra taking Rafael’s leftover sperm sample is going to take us on an interesting journey.
DEADLINE: Is getting the baby back in Season 2 going to reveal to us some competition between Rafael and Michael about who can prove their true love for Jane?
SNYDER URMAN: Well, I think they’re going to get it back in a surprising way, hopefully. Whether it sets them more apart or pulls them altogether is something that you’ll have to wait for Season 2 to find out. But I will say that there’s a very specific reason that the baby was taken, and there’s something specific that Sin Rostro wants.
DEADLINE: Ben, this isn’t the first time that you brought Stateside a show that’s been successful in another region and territory and adapted it for American audiences. Now that we’ve reached the end of the first season — with the acclaim, with the attention that it’s received — how did you find the process with Jane different than making a U.S. version of the UK’s The Office?
SILVERMAN: I think that they’re very different, but both are great experiences that I wish anyone could be able to have. What I also think specifically about Jane and The Office is that Jennie has created something unique here like what happened with The Office in its time when we brought it over from the UK. With the use of all of these incredibly contemporary devices onscreen, it still feels like a classic story. It’s just really genius. With The Office, we had no laugh track, single camera and pseudo-documentary, it was also hyper contemporary and of its time, brilliantly packaged for an American audience. I think that’s something I definitely connect with both.
DEADLINE: ABC had Cristela this season, and obviously there was Ugly Betty from 2006-10 but there are still scant Latino-driven shows on the Big 4 in 2015. Why do you think this vast market is not being represented?
SILVERMAN: Jane The Virgin is for everyone, but I think in representing everyone in the world, it helps get everyone there. Both Jennie and I love the characters in this world and that they have a cultural perspective that you don’t see enough. It’s pretty awesome, and I think it kind of turns the truth of the America we live in wide and universal.
DEADLINE: Jennie, as you go into a second season, how much are you taking from the Venezuelan original now that this show has really established its own identity Stateside?
SNYDER URMAN: I really tried to familiarize myself with the original early on, and I kept some of their plot twists that I thought raised the stakes and made things more interesting. You know, the lost sperm sample was taken from the original. But beyond those original things, we have our own characters now, and they have their own lives and they have their own drive. So our version has a totally different rhythm. The writers and I have already been working on the second season, and it’s not what the original was. We want to take it in different directions because our characters are now different and we’ve introduced different people and they have different pressures.
DEADLINE: With two men in her life and now the little one, it doesn’t feel like Jane’s going to stay a virgin much longer, with both Rafael and Michael trying to put a ring on her finger. How are you guys going to handle that when the show reaches that?
SNYDER URMAN: I can’t wait till the show reaches that point. When it does, then we have a very intertextual vocabulary on our shows that will stamp on Jane The Virgin. And then when she loses her virginity, you’ll see a line go through the Virgin and then that’ll be the title.