My favorite show on television right now is Jane the Virgin. It’s smart, witty, self-aware, and nuanced in its storytelling but it has also given Latinx actors representation I haven’t seen before. For those unaware of the show, the story centers around a young woman named Jane Villanueva (Gina Rodriguez) who was accidentally artificially inseminated. The premise sounds ridiculous but Jane the Virgin knows that and with that self awareness has created one of the most delightful satirical telenovelas I’ve ever seen on tv. The show is currently in its third season and is just as good as its knockout first season.
In its most recent episode, Chapter Fifty-One, the writers paid homage to the Master of Suspense with an Alfred Hitchcock theme that was effective in moving the plot along. In the episode, Jane turns to Hitchcock movies to add suspense into her novel. She explains Hitchcock’s bomb under the table theory to her husband Michael, who we learn has been trying to get her to watch these films “for years.” (Sidenote: for someone heavily on #TeamMichael, this added more ammo to my argument that he’s the better match.) This opens up the fun for the creatives on the show to add some Hitchcockian elements throughout the episode.
Another storyline in this episode centers on the father of Jane’s son, Rafael, whose mother is a crime lord that has died but left behind a complicated web of lies and corruption. Jane’s husband is a detective who has been working on this case for the past two seasons and we learn that Rafael’s family has been involved in some stolen high-end artwork. When Michael, Jane, and Rafael discuss the pieces of the puzzle in the case, the show cuts to a parody of Alfred Hitchcock Presents as Jane Villanueva Presents with a clever silhouette of Jane’s pregnant belly before segueing into the parody that’s reminiscent of Rear Window. Jane’s outfit is an homage to Kelly’s in the film complete with pearls and Rafael and Michael deliver some old timey accents alá Jimmy Stewart.
What I loved about this sequence was that it wasn’t just the actors putting on makeup, using slick back hair and costumes, the lighting and the camerawork was very much in the style of Mr. Hitchcock so the creative team really did their research. As a fan of both Jane the Virgin and Alfred Hitchcock, I really appreciated this. The episode also drew elements from Vertigo, To Catch a Thief, and The Birds. Considering the most important plot point of the episode took place in a convent, it was fitting to get a nod from Vertigo which features a climatic scene taking place inside a church.
I love that Jane the Virgin drew inspiration from Hitchcock. Jane the Virgin is a rare comedy that has been able to tackle on some very difficult storylines but with a gusto that keeps if grounded and makes it relatable to its audience. Creating homages with universally loved works of art like Hitchcock tap into viewers of all ages. It tickled me to see this in shows I grew up with like Boy Meets World and Gossip Girl that gave nods to classic films like Casablanca and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. For the younger demographic that loves classic films but doesn’t know many people who do, this lets them know they’re not alone and it is cool! For those who have never heard of Alfred Hitchcock, this let’s them google his name on Wikipedia and hopefully check out a film of his, or seven. Thanks Jane the Virgin for reminding us that the classics never go out of style.