Maybe there is hope yet for religion in TV and pop culture
I never thought that I would receive affirmation for my Catholic faith from a TV show. At least not now, when the secularization of TV shows is the rule rather than the exception. With the Duggar scandal and other Christian representatives dominating the media with their controversies, it seems as if it now is worse than ever to be openly Catholic or Christian in pop culture. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find an exception to this in Jane the Virgin.
Sure, the whole show seems to be a satire on the telenovela (Spanish soap opera), and while it does poke fun at many stereotypical traits of these shows, Jane the Virgin is more than just that. This show has a lot of heart, as they say in the biz, and is chock full of talent and excellent scripts. I haven’t been able to stop watching, and being sick this whole past weekend gave me the perfect excuse to watch more than I normally would. The show’s premise is about a senior in college, Jane, who becomes accidentally artificially inseminated and subsequently becomes pregnant. Now, I won’t give away spoilers about how this happens exactly, but it is far-fetched. In fact, most of the show is far-fetched. However, as much as the show’s situations are definitely fiction and pretty implausible, there are a lot of very real issues and concerns that the show does address. Some of these include the issue of abortion, sex before marriage, lying to protect one’s child, keeping promises, ethics of law enforcement, and many other issues that are very prevalent in our society today. Not to mention that the show is hilarious, tear-inducing and heart-warming all at the same time.
Now, perhaps one of the most standout points, at least to me, of this show is that the main character, Jane, in addition to her mother and grandmother, are practicing Catholics. In fact, they are often shown praying, saying the rosary, talking to and referring to God, going to Mass, and following Church teachings. Jane even gets a student teaching job at a Catholic high school. Although there are times that the show does poke gentle fun at the Catholic faith, in general the religion is portrayed in a positive light.
Jane is the main character, and admirable for her adherence to her beliefs and values, her honesty, her genuine personality, and her kindness. Her Catholic faith is a big part of her life, but it isn’t her defining feature. She is a stand-up woman, who thinks her decisions through and how they will affect those around her. She is walking the walk of her Catholic faith, and is a model of it for all of those around her, on the show and not. Even when modern society tells her that her reluctance to have sex before marriage or have an abortion is unfounded and unnecessary, she sticks to her beliefs. Even when its painful or adds difficulty to her life plan, she decides to stick to her guns and not give in, but rather soldiers on and adapts to these challenges.
This may be one of the few shows that I have seen paint Catholics in such a positive light. Too often Catholic or Christian characters are pious parodies and extreme exaggerations of the reality of our faith. It makes me proud to see a woman like Jane on television that represents Catholicism so well, and I hope that in the future we get to see even more characters like Jane that share their faiths boldly, no matter what belief system they are a part of.