Brow Beat

The Mystery of Jane the Virgin’s Narrator Is No Mystery at All

Gina Rodriguez sits next to a laptop, smiling.
Gina Rodriguez in Jane the Virgin. Tyler Golden/The CW

It’s funny to think of Jane the Virgin’s narrator as a mystery, considering we already know quite a bit about him. Always ready with a breathless recap or a well-timed “OMG,” the narrator is the Latin Lover archetype come to life, voiced with aplomb by Anthony Mendez. Plus, he’s always referring to the audience as his “friends.” How can he be a stranger when he’s the best character on the show?

Well, for one thing, we can’t even be certain that he’s a “he” at all. Ever since Jane the Virgin showrunner Jennie Snyder Urman teased that the narrator is a person with a distinct point of view and “a connection to the narrative,” fans have debated his true identity. We’ll have to wait until the end of the very last episode for that secret to be revealed, but as Jane the Virgin enters its final season on Wednesday, we decided to theorize one last time.

Friends, when the CW television show Jane the Virgin turned five seasons old, we still didn’t have a clue who the narrator could be.

Ah, but we do have at least one clue, a key line from the Season 3 finale that narrows down the narrator’s identity considerably. During Xiomara and Rogelio’s wedding, the narrator says he counts himself among the people who love Xo the most, so it’s safe to assume that the narrator must be someone connected to the Villanueva family. The most popular fan theories floating around are that he’s Jane’s son, Jane’s grandfather, or even Jane herself.

Let’s start with Jane’s son. Mr. Sweet Face!

There’s certainly a case to be made for little Mateo as the narrator. He loves Xo, because she’s his grandmother, and early on when Jane receives a baby blanket with ducks on it, the narrator notes, “I do love ducks!” But that’s hardly definitive proof, and while Mateo has a sweet face, I’m more concerned with his sweet voice. The narrator’s accent just doesn’t make sense for Mateo, who is still young but already speaking with a solidly American one.

What about the other Mateo, Jane’s late grandfather? He would’ve had a Venezuelan accent.

Grandfather Mateo has become something of a mythological figure on the show, and it’s entirely possible that he’s narrating from the afterlife—or that he isn’t dead at all, given Jane the Virgin’s track record. But the narrator is awfully saucy about Jane’s sex life, and I have trouble imagining Alba’s late husband delivering that you-go-girl, sex-positive energy about his own granddaughter.

Alas, you have a point.

That leaves Jane herself.

What a twist! But Jane also has an American accent, and we know she doesn’t sound anything like Anthony Mendez. The narrator even sometimes refers to himself as a man.

True, but I don’t think the narrator is literally Jane or Gina Rodriguez. Someone else is obviously speaking the words, but I think the narrator is a character, a persona, a literary device that Jane is speaking through. She does it all the time on the show, conjuring up an external version of an internalized problem, like her Inner Critic , to work through it. Jane the Virgin is a play on telenovelas, but it’s also the story of a budding author finding her voice, and there’s now substantial evidence that the entire show is Jane telling her own story.

Let me put it another way: When the CW television show Jane the Virgin was three seasons old, Jane published a romance novel called Snow Falling, which was also published in real life.

I see what you did there. Is the book any good?

Sure, if you like that sort of thing. Snow Falling is about Josephine Galena Valencia, a hotel employee whose unexpected pregnancy puts her in the middle of a love triangle. Oh, and there’s a crime lord.

OMG. Straight out of a telenovela, ri—

I’m going to stop you right there. It’s not straight out of just any telenovela, it’s the exact plot of Jane the Virgin, set in a different time period and minus the artificial insemination. The names are slightly changed, but the plot points are ripped from Jane’s own life.

Fine. But what does it have to do with the identity of Jane the Virgin’s narrator?

The novel also employs an unusual conceit, interjections from a narrator providing commentary on the plot, like “I did not see this coming” or “Now that’s a happily ever after, my friends.” During a sex scene, the narrator even throws in an “I hope Abuela is not reading this!”

Sounds familiar.

Exactly. So Jane has used this style of narration before, and in Season 4, she decides that Snow Falling won’t be the last time she writes about her life. He next project will combine all of her ideas into a single, thrilling saga about her grandmother, her mother, and herself.

Straight out of a telenov—

There’s more.

Oh.

While Jane is writing, we see her type the phrase “Our story begins thirteen and a half years ago,” the very same phrase the narrator uses in the Jane the Virgin pilot, aka “Chapter One.” (Even the episode titles are literal chapters!) That cinches it: Jane is writing the show we know as Jane the Virgin. And it makes sense, since only Jane could know her most intimate feelings and private moments the way the narrator does. As for knowing what happens offscreen, she could interview the people around her for more information; she did spend several episodes shadowing Petra to learn about her life when she was working as a ghostwriter, after all, and she explicitly talks about reconsidering events from the points of view of a supporting character. Not to mention, there’s always a little room for creative license. It’s a pretty wild story to begin with.

Tell me about it.

The CW has also announced a spinoff of Jane the Virgin, with each season based on a different fictional novel that Jane “writes,” and the narrator of that show will be none other than Gina Rodriguez, whose character Jane the Virgin’s narrator once slyly praised with a tossed-off “Wow, she’s pretty good at narration.” I suspect that the end of Jane the Virgin will reveal that Jane wrote her entire story—and that the last lines of narration will be in her own voice. Maybe Rogelio, with his flair for the dramatic and his social media savvy, will even decide to adapt it for TV. That would certainly explain the onscreen hashtags.

Uh-huh. Sure. That makes sense.

It’s OK, you can say it now.

Really?

Really.

Finally! Straight out of a telenovela, right?!

If you say so.