‘Jane the Virgin’ Finale: Jennie Urman on the Big Arrival and Writing Smart Women

CW’s “Jane the Virgin” focuses on a title character (played by Gina Rodriguez) who accidentally winds up pregnant despite vowing to save her virginity until marriage — and the show has explored the dramatic and often hilarious consequences of Jane’s accidental insemination in deliciously unexpected ways throughout its freshman year. Ahead of the season one finale, showrunner Jennie Snyder Urman previewed the labor-intensive episode and talked about being the brains behind the show’s breakout success.

In the finale teaser, it seems like Jane is going into labor on the bus. Is that what this whole season is coming to?

Well, I will say there are some real moments of labor and there are some moments she thinks are labor. And the bus definitely plays a huge part. I felt like I wanted the finale to come full circle. We started with Jane processing the information that she was pregnant on the bus, and her father — that she didn’t know was her father at the time — talking to her and coaching her through. So we wanted to tie that moment back into the finale.

So we all know that something dramatic is going to happen in this finale …

Not something. Many, many dramatic things happen at the end.

Right, this show is insane. How do you tread the line between making it just insane enough without going too far?

It’s a hard line to explain. I think the key to this show, and to the balance to the show, is having all these insane things happen but to understand where they’re coming from, make sure there’s reason and have our characters react as we would react. I think having them react to the craziness in an authentic way hopefully bridges that for the audience, and helps their characters stay grounded, and human and emotional.

Let’s talk about the love triangle. Can you set up what is going on in Jane’s mind as we head into the finale?

Well I think she is at a place right now of friendship with both [Rafael and Michael]. And at this moment, with the information that she has, with her headspace as it is, she’s very careful. She made an impulsive move at the beginning of the season when she felt this connection with Rafael and broke up with Michael and went for it. And we watched as reality crept into the fantasy. Because of that experience, Jane is not going to rush headlong into anything without being very thoughtful and deliberate and careful with her emotional life and the other people involved and their emotional lives.

Now that you have a second season renewal, how does the finale set that up?

The first season was really the journey of the pregnancy. And for that journey, there’s going to be this big catharsis, and this real emotional moment when she has the baby. And then beyond that, we’re really setting up, I think, some very interesting, very explosive, and (in our quirky and funny way), big developments for the next season. And we were very conscious about setting those up at the end, and getting an explosive end and interesting start to the next season.

Do you have an end in sight for this show? Or are you just waiting to see how long you can take it?

Each season is going to have an end to the story that we told. Like I said, this is the season of her pregnancy. So there’s an ending in there, and then we’re going to start anew. I began the show knowing how we are going to end it eventually, and how pieces are going to click into place. Depending on how long we go, we’ll put that plan into action.

But we have such a deep bench of talented actors and intertwined relationships. And as long as I keep throwing new things at them that affect their lives in big ways so that you don’t have to recycle the same drama, I think there’s plenty of story to be told. The writers met for a week already on season two, and we couldn’t have more story. And a lot of it started seeping into potentially what we would be doing in season three because we get so excited. So I don’t feel anxious about burning through story. At the same time I want to keep my end sight in mind. And I’m very mindful of where it’s going to end, so the journey has to take a lot of twists and turns to get to where it will ultimately end.

Jane’s character is inspirational for so many people. What’s the experience of writing her been like for you?

I’m very conscious that I want to write smart, driven women. That’s something that I always try to put into my work. And it’s important for me. I have a daughter and I have a son, and I want them both to be seeing those kinds of characters on screen. And then that combined with Gina — who is such an inspiring person in her own right — and listening to how she talks, and the power of representation and what that has meant in her life.

I was listening to an interview with Gina where she mentioned you get asked a lot what it’s like to write a show about a Latina without having that heritage or culture yourself. So what’s your answer?

I write for men all day everyday. The male point of view is a lot harder for me to access then a type A, driven Latina woman with a complicated relationship with her mom. That I get. I understand that. The other thing is I’m not trying to write for the whole experience because that would be, that’s a crazy undertaking. What I’m writing is a very specific woman. And I think the more specific you get, the less you have to carry the burden of representation and of stereotypes because you’re writing characters. I’m writing a smart, career-oriented, funny, compassionate, hard-working woman. And I think that’s what Gina responded to on the page. And race is one of so many things that go into identity. There’s just a million different things that go into our character. And I think what I’ve tried to do is just be very specific about who Jane is. And in doing that hopefully create a fully formed character.

As Emmy season approaches, what are your hopes and dreams for this show?

It’s so funny because starting this journey, that would be the furthest thing from my mind. It’s hard to say honestly that I don’t have any aspirations. But I don’t have expectations. Above all, I hope that Gina is recognized because I think the work she does is so extraordinary. In one episode she does such amazing comedy, and such heartfelt drama. To me, she’s just such an incredible force. So I would say that’s where I’m putting my strongest hopes.

The “Jane the Virgin” season one finale airs Monday, May 11 at 9 p.m. on The CW.

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