“Jane the Virgin” finally returned to our screens March 20, after two (very) long weeks away — and it came bearing not just a blueprint the rest of the season, but a syllabus for keeping your sanity as a parent, and adult.
Whether you’re in a room a trouble-loving toddler is trying to dominate — or a country seemingly run by them — who among us could be any worse off for taking any kind of advice from this set of geniuses? Everybody needs help, the Mommy Wars are still going on, and “Jane the Virgin’s” agenda is, as ever, completely focused on getting everybody out alive.
So with that in mind, let’s look at all the different types of grown-*ss adults “Jane the Virgin” uses Matelio’s Frightening (and weird!) Fours to show us we can be.
The Jane (Gina Rodriguez)
This is the kind of adult who has it maybe a little bit too together. She’s felt so thrown since the world she’d known, and future she’d planned for, came crashing down around her. She’s been a hot mess on the verge of a meltdown for way too long.
Being this kind of adult requires a high tolerance and awareness for self-induced stress, and a willingness to dive head-first into a parenting project you don’t necessarily feel equipped for — but ideally, it comes with the benefit of a good sense of humor, and the knowledge of both when and how to ask for help from family members.
As regards the response to misbehaving children ruling the life of this type of adult, “Jane the Virgin” recommends an extreme adherence to strict boundaries, and ignoring of any and all bids for negative attention. This tactic, at least in parenting, may produce superficially physical backlash — such as the uninvited haircut Matelio provides in an unmonitored moment — but nothing a mature adult can’t power through.
Lean into your edge, fellow Janes — you might find some power and healing therein.
The Petra (Yael Grobglas)
This is the adult who actually does have have it all together — even if she can’t see it, through all her past insecurities and losses and mistakes and shame to recognize it. Being this kind of adult requires the stomach to make the hard — and particularly, the unlikable — decisions more regularly than anyone really enjoys…
But it also comes with the confidence and knowledge that being prepared to handle anything that comes your way — and keep everyone you love as safe as possible — far supersedes ego drives (and for women, social programming) like needing to be “likable.”
For this type of adult to succeed in a toddler-dictatorship, “Jane the Virgin” recommends a delicate balance between standing your ground, and being willing to be honest and vulnerable. If you recognize that sometimes these apparent opposites can be one in the same — and that a dragon can be a symbol of protection as much (or more than) one of fear — you’ll ace this lesson.
The Rafael (Justin Baldoni)
Against all odds, sometimes, this is the adult who has fully absorbed what it means to take responsibility for your past mistakes, and to recognize that you may make more in the future. This kind of adulthood often comes with a lot of premature pain and loss, but most of that will be balanced by the clarity and inner peace that owning your own ever-evolving path to maturity brings.
To this adult, “Jane the Virgin” says: Keep on keeping on — we see you, and we love you for how far you’ve come. Life can be dark; keep seeking the light.
This is the type of adult who, like Abuela Alba (Ivonne Coll), has been around long enough for it to really sink in that there is no true “adulthood,” and no end to growing up. Being this kind of adult means understanding that every relationship starts at square one, and no two relationship paths will be even close to identical, so stop dragging your baggage behind you into everything.
It also means you will have to be open to the world as it changes, and open to changing yourself in response — even if that means putting on false eyelashes for your first true attempt to flirt in decades… Or recognizing that your fairytale engagement might be all wrong after all — as Xiomara and Bruce (Andrea Navedo & Ricardo Chavira) must admit, now that Rogelio’s back in the picture. Or even recognizing that a manly heart-to-heart with a four-year-old might represent a major shift of your internal priorities, as Rogelio (Jaime Camil) finally acknowledged with Jane’s help.
The advice “Jane the Virgin” has for this kind of adult? Never say never. Good, bad, it can all happen, and happen again. Just be ready for it, and ready for joy when it approaches — because like everything else, like the bad stuff and the good stuff too, joy is fleeting and doesn’t always knock twice before it’s gone.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter which type of adult you most identify with — it only matters that we recognize which one’s driving. And that to save ourselves a lot of grief and detours, we have to take responsibility for our actions (and reactions), and remember that our feelings aren’t ourselves. Stay with that one, and even the worst — and weirdest — toddler behavior can be managed.
Although if you can be a strong Jane — who this week gets through telling a stranger the story of her greatest loss without crying for the first time ever — or a protective dragon like Petra, who can smile in the face of national and political adversity long enough to focus on making things better for everyone… Maybe you don’t need too much advice after all.
“Jane the Virgin” airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on the CW.