Brow Beat

Why Latin Lover Narrator Is the Best Character on Jane the Virgin

Rafael and Jane sitting on a couch. Raf has his arms crossed and looks annoyed at Jane.
Justin Baldoni as Rafael Solano and Gina Rodriguez as Jane Villanueva in Jane the Virgin. The CW

Title notwithstanding, Jane the Virgin is a surprisingly sexy show. But its most seductive character never makes it on screen. The show’s suave storyteller, dubbed the “Latin Lover Narrator,” is the one who keeps us up to speed on all of the show’s telenovela-style twists. Much more than a simple recap machine, the narrator, voiced by Anthony Mendez, is a fully developed character. And over the course of the season, he has only gotten better.

Telenovela worlds are always complicated, and getting a foothold amid the tumult and backstabbing can be difficult. But Latin Lover dishes on characters’ backstories while injecting his own gossipy footnotes through on-screen text. As Latin Lover’s narration unfolds, and becomes more playful, it feels like we’re getting to know him just as well as Jane, or any other character. He has Jane’s kindness, mixed with her father Rogelio’s bravado. He also has an occasionally wicked sense of humor.

In early episodes, Latin Lover was indispensable as we tried to navigate baby daddy Rafael’s wife’s constant scheming. Over time, as we got to know the landscape and required less backstory from him, his voiceovers and on-screen typing got cheekier—as when he referred to Jane’s high school arch enemy, Stephanie Kovakovich, as Stephanie Kovakobitch. (“Oops.”) He corrected his typing, before adding: “No, I meant it.”

Latin Lover has reminded us of all the twists, turns and ironies over the course of the season, keeping us in on every joke. (Remember that time Roman got impaled after faking his own death by impaling his twin brother?) But he’s also constantly explaining character motivations. After we see Rafael inexplicably break up with Jane, we’re furious with him, wondering what his problem is—but then Latin Lover swoops in and lets us know Rafael was actually lying to push Jane away for what he thought was her own good. “It should be noted that Rafael really thought he was doing the right thing for Jane, for their child,” he clarifies. “And it should also be noted that that didn’t make it any easier.”

The best moments are when it becomes unclear who the narrator is speaking for—himself, the character he’s narrating, or us. In last week’s episode, as Jane opens baby presents, including a duck-themed baby blanket, Latin Lover says, “Okay, that is definitely cute. I do love ducks!” A few seconds later, he is speaking at Jane: “Now, back to writing. Jane, come on! Time to write.” Then, he becomes a hybrid source of insight and straight commentary: “Ah, ok, fine. As soon as you figure out where the towels go.” The scene cuts back in after an apparent time lapse when Latin Lover informs us, “Quick update: It’s been two hours. She won’t stop organizing!” His highly biased narrative helps keep the show unpredictable—and hilarious. And the way he’s evolved throughout the season, incrementally developing a personality all his own, has been one of the highlights of the show.

As TV Guide reports, he will “be uncovered as a major part of the narrative,” likely in the series finale. But I’d almost rather he remain off-screen, the best disembodied character on TV, seducing us from afar with nothing but his voice.