Wednesday, November 26, 2014

In Defense of Rafael Solano [Contributor: Ann]

It is 1:30 in the morning as I’m writing this, and I kind of feel like an enamored teenager writing about an unrequited love. Like in my diary or something. “Dear Diary, Rafael is sooooo great. I don’t understand why Mommy and Daddy don’t like him!”

But here’s the thing—I am a frickin’ goofball when it comes to TV, but I am also someone who watches TV very critically (critical in the sense of “attentive analysis” but probably also in my nebbiness). Surprisingly I have a hard time doing that with Jane the Virgin, because SO MUCH HAPPENS that I am literally just trying to stay afloat in the plot.

However, I wanted to write this because I wanted to express how frickin’ much I love Rafael. There, I said it. In a show where most of the characters are scheming, conniving, or selfish, Rafael is one of the few moral centers—so it kind of surprises me, really, that so many people distrust him.

I am in a weird minority when it comes to Rafael; supporters tend to think he is MEANT TO BE with Jane and dissenters think that the MEANT TO BE ideology is dangerous. For me, somehow, both of those are true, but Rafael ends up on top anyway.

Let me dissect what I mean one point at a time. First off: “Why Rafael is Better Candidate for Jane than Michael.”
  1. Rafael is honest with Jane — think of the Latin Lover Narrator. Where he is describing Michael as “the man [Jane] thought she knew so well,” he is describing Rafael’s wrongdoings as having occurred in the past, rather than the present. We are given no reason to distrust Rafael because, like Jane, he puts his cards forward (the state of his marriage, his feelings for her) when it’s not the easiest thing to do.
  2. Rafael puts Jane’s best interests at stake — Michael was going to send the baby over to Rafael and Petra just because he didn’t want to deal with it, and when she asked him (repeatedly) to be honest with her he didn’t reveal much about himself. (Also, I feel like there is so much we do not know about Michael…) Rafael, on the other hand, omits information about his company’s financial entanglement with Luisa because he thinks Jane, for her best interests, should sue. Which is selfless!
  3. Rafael and Jane have more than a spark —I think what bothers me about Team Michael is the idea that Rafael and Jane’s relationship is built entirely on the Meant to Be idea. Which isn’t true—their first night together (in episode seven) was them talking, which is my favorite trope of all time, ever. I mean, in so many romantic comedies (Twilight Twilight Twilight—is this a romantic comedy? Whatever. Jenn's Note: It's most definitely a comedy. There's no reason you can include the line "Hold on tight, spidermonkey" and not actually be a comedy), the two leads hardly talk and when they do talk it’s about the love they have for each other. I’m not saying Michael lacks this quality, but Jane and Rafael’s conversation is comprehensive and demonstrates that Rafael really wants to get to know her, not just get in her pants.
  4. Rafael has changed! — Really, he has! That is why he and Petra are not compatible anymore. They began seeing each other when he was at his worst. Again, there is sympathy for Petra here, and I do buy her speech that she never stopped loving Rafael, but there has come a time —I don't know, sometime before she faked assault — where it is just obvious that it is not in Petra or Rafael’s best interests to continue seeing each other. While she is continuing to do reprehensible things (sleep with his best friend, for instance, or SECRETLY BE NAMED NATALIA), he is trying to reform—he wants the kid as more than a power play. He wants the kid, he wants to settle down, and in order for him to pursue that change to its fullest potential, he has to ditch the dead weight. 
  5. Jane has changed too! — Think of the youth-friendly pastor—commitment is a long road, and there are bumps in the road. What makes a relationship lasting is the willingness on both sides to commit to how hard marriage can be. And while the pregnancy certainly isn’t Michael’s fault, how he has handled it, in between his apologies to Jane, is pretty awful, or at least not compatible with how she handled it. He tells Jane in the most recent episode that she is not who he thinks she is. He is right! Neither of them are who the other thinks they are, which is why I am AMPED for Jane to find out about Michael and Nadine.
  6. But the thing is, Jane and Rafael have changed in a way that suits each other! — It’s been five years, and Jane and Rafael are still having the deep conversations they had the first time they really connected. Even when Rafael was a playboy, he was drawn into conversation, real conversation, with Jane. That his first meeting with her mirrors the first night they spend together in episode seven proves that while circumstances can change, an enduring love can get through pretty much anything.
  7. Rafael is the only person who calls Jane a writer (!!!) — Which is a huge deal, because writing is such a part of her identity. Writing is her dream, and Rafael’s acceptance of her dreams is incredibly important.
With all that in mind, how can the IT’S MEANT TO BE idea be dangerous…in a good way?
  1. Rafael and Jane need to grow!
This is the only reason. I mean, these two hooked up in episode six—I love that there is something inherently wrong with their understanding of what a true, deep relationship is. It’s what I’ve always wanted to see a TV show do. I think so many TV shows focus on the “getting together” part of a relationship that they don’t devote enough time to how different one month in a relationship is than five months in it. In other shows, that difference would be “the sex isn’t good anymore!” or something like that.

With this show, it’s about growing up. It’s about confronting your fears that the ideal fairy tale doesn’t exist, and that’s not the foundation love is actually built on. That’s why — for how cinematic the kiss between Rafael and Jane was — it was not my favorite scene. (Though I did love it, obviously.) My favorite scene of them is when they are talking—about pretty much anything, you know? They have a chemistry that isn’t purely sexual, though to be honest Gina Rodriguez has chemistry with everyone else on the show. The dialogue just feels so natural. They have fun talking to each other, and when (inevitably) their vision of romance and the “perfect family” crumbles, they will grow from it and find each other again.

In so many romantic comedies, what divides the man and the woman is a dumb understanding—think How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days or 27 Dresses. If Jane the Virgin does what I think it’s going to do, it will actually indicate that these characters DEVELOP from each other. That they fight for real reasons instead of contrived ones (which the series has done really, really well).

Look. I love every character on Jane the Virgin, and I admit—I love so much the scene in the dress shop with Michael and Jane. And I will admit I think that Rafael and Jane are rushing into things. But at the end of the day, I have to defend him. He is a character who is looking to change and looking to grow, he’s not perfect, but he’s irresistible in his acknowledgement of that fact and in how he manifests that mission in acts of kindness towards others, especially Jane. And I love Jane and Rafael together. Maybe not now, because it doesn’t make the most sense, and it is so dangerous to hang so much on the “meant to be” idea—but just because they are not meant to be doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be. It just means that they will have to work at it first. And given what I know of Rafael and of Jane, that shouldn’t be a problem.

(Also — like, Nadine and Michael was super hot, right?)

1 comment:

  1. You are not alone booboo. I love Rafael too and so do a ton of other people on tumblr