For the past five seasons, Jane The Virgin has taken loyal fans and viewers on a rollercoaster of emotions, with extreme highs, devastating lows, and every imaginable plot twist in between. With love, murder, mayhem, and family at its core, it’s been an honor to take the ride that Jennie Synder Urman so poignantly and craftily prepared over the seasons. With the series finale now in our rearview mirror, I can finally say that Jane and Rafael, who — spoiler alert — end up together in the finale, are the most realistic “One True Pairing” (aka my top OTP) in TV history.
The reason we consume art is that we want an escape from our real lives. We want to see a love that transcends all understanding and makes us yearn for more in our lives. While some relationships often portrayed on TV are largely unrealistic in many ways and thus idyllic in nature, Jane The Virgin allowed Jane (Gina Rodriguez) & Rafael’s (Justin Baldoni) relationship to flourish, break apart, develop an unwavering friendship and so much more, in the most sincere, heartbreaking, and joyous of ways. Their road to happily ever after was filled with marriages and babies with other people, a few break-ups and make-ups, plus a husband coming back from the dead. Throughout it all, Rafael and Jane’s growth as a couple and as individuals, is arguably unmatched.
When Jane first met Rafael, it was a typical meet-cute, but there was an indescribable spark there that ended up becoming so much more. Jane found something unexpected: someone, a virtual stranger, who believed in her as an author and pushed her to go after her dreams. Rafael gave her the courage to be bold and take the leap that she always dreamt of and arguably believed in her more than she believed in herself. As their professional relationship grew, they explored romantic relationships with other people. Jane met Michael (Brett Dier) and they developed a love story of their own, not one that was meant for a lifetime but a moment. While their love was pure and well-intentioned, Michael and Jane never developed the type of friendship that she and Rafael did.
Rafael was married to Petra (Yael Grobglas), but they were both checked out and having affairs after Rafael’s cancer remission. Rafael’s older sister, Luisa (Yara Martinez), accidentally inseminated Jane, instead of Petra, sealing Rafael and Jane’s fate from that point forward. Jane, who gives birth to Mateo and marries Michael, thought she had life and love all figured out. When Michael suddenly passed away, Rafael stepped in as a friend and an even better co-parent, giving Jane the space to heal and mourn. Rafael made it a point to let Jane and their son truly feel everything they needed to. He was able to find and make peace with their lives and was able to create a safe space for Jane, Mateo, Petra, and his two children with Petra. Once Jane and Rafael were both ready, they decided to give their relationship a fighting chance. This, of course, wasn’t without sacrifice and curveballs, but eventually, they made their way back to each other for good.
Rafael’s character growth over the past five seasons is some of the best I’ve seen on television. Rafael, a former self-centered, stubborn workaholic, who at times was hateful and downright rude, ends up being one of the most loving, vulnerable, giving human beings on the show by series end. He went from only being concerned about himself and money to truly understanding the importance of family and realizing that nothing is more important than that. Rafael learned the true power of love from Jane, of compromise, of trust, and of how to effectively share your feelings without running away. Jane taught him how to love authentically and, in that lesson, he became the most beautiful version of himself, a butterfly fully emerged from the cocoon.
Jane, typically calculated, planning every second of her life, learned how to let life happen, instead of being so concerned with the planning that you forget to live. With Michael’s passing and through Rafael’s friendship first, Jane finally learned how to be free. The type of freedom that it sometimes takes people 50 years to find. She learned how to trust the process of life, and to let go of her unrealistic expectations. In the series finale, Jane is not phased that her “perfect” wedding day is going the exact opposite of the way she planned; she embraces it. A far cry from season one, when Jane felt like the earth was shattering every time something didn’t go her way. The leaps and bounds to which Jennie Urman introduced these characters and brought them full circle has been one of the most entertaining and precious aspects of Jane The Virgin.
Love is about risk, taking chances, mistakes, growth, and building the best way you know how. I was and forever will be delighted to see all of these traits and more at the conclusion of this groundbreaking, barrier-shattering show. Their love was complicated, messy, and filled with hard moments of realizations that made it the reasons why they are my one true pairing, and why we need more realistic depictions of love, in all its messy glory, onscreen. In my 30+ years of life, I have never been in a relationship that was smooth sailing, but all of them were worth it. The hard work, the lessons, the joyous moments, the laughter, the intimacy, the challenges, all make love worth it and boy did Jane and Rafael serve us all of this and more. Jane and Rafael chose each other, and their ending was them choosing each other forever, a perfect ending to a great saga.