JANE THE VIRGIN
(This round compares the first three episodes of Jane the Virgin and Uncle)
Jane the Virgin is telenovela whose premise involves a virgin who gets accidentally gets artificially inseminated. Uncle is about a slovenly dickhead who redeems himself by connecting with his 11-year-old nephew. Each of these shows has one thing in common: they are both trying to squeeze into an already crowded creative marketplace. This round will go to the show that handles itself the best through its well worn genre/premise. Because there are things about each show that have been done to death, originality of presentation becomes the most important qualifying factor. After all, it takes a crazy stupid amount of creativity to revitalize something people already think they know. Portable hard-drives have existed since the 80s, but Steve Jobs put a headphone jack in one, called it an iPod, and all of the sudden the entire music industry has to reconsider its business model. This is about unfamilarizing the familiar.
If you’ve been keeping with the bracket, you already know where this is all going. You’ve read that Uncle lacks a certain amount of originality, but has made it this far because of how well it balances the scummy with the schmaltzy. Plus the fact that it comes off as having no idea that any of this stuff has been done before. Uncle is watchable and likeable. It’s just not doing anything remarkably new or fascinating. It’s an enjoyable Sunday drive in your home town.
Jane the Virgin isn’t really a telenovela. It’s more inspired by a genre to tell its weird story. Because where else but a telenovela can a virgin engaged to a cop get accidentally artificially inseminated by the sister of the sperm donor, who owns the hotel Jane works for, and whose wife is being investigated by the fiancee cop? All this is made palatable by the show’s ability to ground itself with good acting, grounded characters, limited and appropriate schmaltz, dramatic irony, expert pacing, and interjecting humor at every single opportunity. Not to mention it’s intended for English speaking American audiences whose only real exposure to this genre is tenuous and through parody (think Senor Macho Solo from 30 Rock.) So, because of its originality, Jane moves on to the final four.