In the sixth episode of the fifth season of Jane the Virgin, the Villanueva women realize how much theyâ€™ve changed. Intrigued? Then itâ€™s time for Mark to watch Jane the Virgin.Â
Trigger Warning: For discussion of drug use and depression
Well, not everything hurt, but a lot of it still does? THIS SHOW, Yâ€™ALL.Â
Oh, Rafael. Look what a change of perspective does. Because I admit that I was worried! I literally said so in my last review! Of course, like Jane, I was missing a key detail, one that not only explained Rafaelâ€™s behavior but Petraâ€™s secretive nature about what Rafael was going through. I also feel like this confirms something that is left unsaid: Rafael got that prescription for his anti-depressant prior to this moment. Right? (Unless Iâ€™m misunderstanding what happened at the end of â€œChapter Eighty-Six,â€ and he did try something else before switching to anti-depressants?) Either way, it doesnâ€™t really matter. Rafael knows he is going through something that is difficult and challenging, and he sought out help.Â
I appreciated it just as much that the show didnâ€™t demonize him for making mistakes while coping with both his depression and the potential side effects of his new prescription. Itâ€™s an unfortunate stigma that we see too often, and hell, even as someone who has been dealing with depression the majority of my life, I still have to check my own understanding of it. For example, my therapist has gotten me to move away from describing myself as a â€œhigh-functioningâ€ depressive and to reframe it. I have had depression for so long and so intensely that I simply found ways to deal with it and live with it. Those adaptations arenâ€™t always great, of course; I have a tendency to throw myself into work and into distractions rather than address the root cause of something. So, am I actually able to function in a depressive episode, or is it more that I have gotten really good at ignoring it and ignoring the emotional and physical toll it takes on my body?Â
Even worse, Iâ€™m setting myself up for failure and judgment with that sort of thinking. Because I might have gotten good at persisting in the face of an episode, but guess what? I donâ€™t always â€œsucceedâ€ at it, and when I donâ€™tâ€”when it is monstrous trying to get out of bed, when I donâ€™t eat for a long time, when I overeat, when I stew in an episode and use it to punish myselfâ€”I am overcome with guilt.Â
Why do I bring this up in relation to Rafael? Because this script is, from my interpretation, tender when it comes to its treatment of him. Yes, we see all of this from Janeâ€™s point of view for a reason. It allows us to understand how she is able to work herself up about Rafael while being completely wrong about him. We understand why she interprets his actions as she does. But this never slipped into a place where it felt like a condemnation. Once Petra reveals the truth to Jane, the whole episode transforms. Rafaelâ€™s messy apartment, his tardiness, his odd sleep behaviorâ€”all of it has a context that isnâ€™t demonized. This isnâ€™t necessarily any less uncomfortable to watch, of course, but itâ€™s not mean-spirited. The show doesnâ€™t make it seem like Rafael is a bad person for being depressed. Which is why I brought up what I did: Stigma makes us assign a moral value to disease. Only certain people deserve it, and only certain behaviors are allowed to be critiqued with harshness and severity. So I appreciate that this script doesnâ€™t go there.Â
Ghosts of the Past
I said something to this effect in a previous review, but itâ€™s so clear that Jane and Michael (the show is now fully calling him Michael, so I guess I will, too) are fundamentally different people. This is also why I assumed that scene on the bench was going in a specific direction. WHEN IT CLEARLY WAS NOT. Over the course of this episode, as Michael tracks down his memories of the day he spotted Rose as Eileen, there are constant reminders of this reality. Michael views his own behaviors from four years prior as â€œsappy.â€ Which isnâ€™t how he used to see all of that. He was a romantic, and now? Well, after spending four years as Jason, his tastes have changed. His interests have changed. He might still be in love with Jane, but what if heâ€™s only in love with the version of who she used to be?
Itâ€™s actually a very fascinating question, though I admit that I am also deeply frustrated by the ramifications of it in the present time. Which Iâ€™m supposed to be! This is a ridiculously upsetting situation, and seeing how much it is hurting Rafael makes it difficult on my end. Like, I canâ€™t fully accept the idea of Jane exploring thisâ€”even though I know she has toâ€”because it causes so much pain to so very many people. At the same timeâ€¦ she has to know, right?
So maybe Michaelâ€™s suggestion is the real key to this all. Maybe if the two of them are far from Miami, this whole nightmare might start making some sense. I also admit that I donâ€™t see Jane falling for Michael in Montana; I donâ€™t think sheâ€™s going to like his life there, even if she comes to understand it. Alsoâ€¦ how is that logistically supposed to work? Jane canâ€™t split her time between the two states, can she?
UGH EVERYTHING HURTS.
This, however, hurts significantly less than it used to! There wereâ€¦ so many queer women in this episode? A LESBIAN BAR NAMED TRUCK STOP? Oh my god, I know the bar is often so low for queer media, but it was a delight to see the show actually commit for an entire episode to introduce us to JRâ€™s friends, who are all part of this community in some way. (I donâ€™t want to presume to know their identities.) There was so much depth wrapped up in this plot! Petra is an outsider for a number of reasons, first of all. Sheâ€™s much newer to her identity as a bisexual woman, and as someone who was once a baby gay first out in an established scene, that journey is hard. The queer community as a whole can be both accepting and off-putting to newcomers. In Petraâ€™s specific case, she hadnâ€™t experienced this kind of setting either! It was, as far as the show clued us in, the very first queer womenâ€™s bar she ever went to. She was a fish out of water in that sense.
But the writers smartly also introduced a second reason for the awkwardness in this episode AND with Leona in particular. Petra is truly having to deal with the ramifications of what she did to JR this season and last. Sheâ€™s working on building trust with JR; sheâ€™s determined to make JR feel safe; and here, she has to accept that JRâ€™s friends might be wary of her for a long, long time. Petra hurt their best friend badly, and as she learns with Jane in the very same bar, friends can be protective. (Which is what Petra was doing with Rafael, too!) I know that a large part of â€œChapter Eighty-Sevenâ€ is the Villanueva women realizing they changed a great deal in the past few years, but you know what? Petra changed, too. So much. Petra of even four years ago would have bailed on this relationship the second it got challenging. (Or she would have self-sabotaged it.) But now?
She really seems like sheâ€™s in it for the long run.
HI, THANKS FOR MAKING MY HEART HURT EVEN MORE. Oh, I know I shouldnâ€™t have, but like Alba, I kept holding on to the hope that maybe Jorge had developed feelings for Alba. I wanted that reciprocation. But this is Jane the Virgin, yâ€™all! Few things are that simple! Of course, Albaâ€™s unrequited feelings are made even worse by the surprise visit from immigration officials, which inspires Jorge to give Alba the affection she wanted. God, even as Alba confessed how she felt, I kept thinkingâ€¦ maybe this is it. Maybe heâ€™s been hiding the same feelings from her and this will be the cathartic moment heâ€™s been waiting for!
Nope. Not the case at all. As hard as it was, I respected that she told Jorge he couldnâ€™t live with her permanently. Itâ€™s just not fair for her anymore. And while sheâ€™s not backing out of their arrangement, she has to protect herself, you know?
I know that there are far more television shows that I haven’t seen versus ones I have, so I donâ€™t want to claim that Jane the Virgin did anything first. So let me filter this through what I know: I havenâ€™t seen a whole lot of mainstream television where older women are allowed to openly (and with detail!) discuss sex and sexuality like this. It was refreshing to see, first of all, made even more wonderful because it was two older Latina women who were talking about masturbation, sex toys, and lubrication. While thereâ€™s certainly some humor attempted in having Alba be so open about using a vibrator, the script actually takes things to a really sweet, helpful place, one that Xiomara needed as she struggled with the lack of her sex drive after finishing chemo. Shit, even Rogelio was really good to Xiomara here, and there was such an ease and willingness on his part to put his sexual desires and his ego aside to center Xo and her needs first, even if that meant that he had to leave her alone. Thatâ€™s not an easy conclusion to come to, but he doesnâ€™t fight her on it at all.
Even though the two plots had nothing to do with one another, I appreciated this for the same reason I appreciated Rafaelâ€™s story: Both were very kind to people struggling with something that was both difficult and embarrassing. And I hope that discussions and stories like these reduce just how difficult and embarrassing both of these things are.
The video for â€œChapter Eighty-Sevenâ€ can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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