'Jane the Virgin' Series Finale: Boss on Emotional Goodbye and Why It Was Always Rafael (Exclusive)
By Liz Calvario
Lisa Rose/The CW
Warning: Spoiler alert! Do not proceed if you have not watched the Jane the Virgin series finale.
Ah, friends. Where to start?
After five seasons, an accidental insemination, various love stories and heartbreaks, Jane the Virgin has come to an end. The CW series -- starring Gina Rodriguez, Jaime Camil, Andrea Navedo and Ivonne Coll -- ended in the most perfect and heartwarming way, leaving fans' hearts glowing with satisfaction. But it was no easy task to get there. In the words of Rogelio de la Vega, "If you knew anything about telenovelas, you'd know that everything is supposed to be dramatic!" And dramatic Jane the Virgin's series finale was!
ET spoke with executive producer Jennie Snyder Urman ahead of the show's ending to get all the details about bringing Jane to its satisfying conclusion, the long-awaited narrator reveal (Yes, it was always who you suspected it was), and why Jane was always meant to end up with Rafael.
ET: Can you tell us about your feelings heading into creating and bringing the final episode to life?
Jennie Snyder Urman: I knew that I wanted it to be about saying goodbye. The theme of the finale is about the anxiety of endings; Jane ending her book, the Villanueva women as they have existed [living] around the corner from each other is changing and they are saying goodbye to that, and there's these new beginnings on the horizons. I felt like building that into the plot and emotional life of the episode would help me process a lot of my own anxiety about Jane ending and how it felt to say goodbye to the show that has been a huge part of my life for close to six years. When I was going through the writing of it, I was having a lot of the same feelings of, "I don't know if it is there? It's 98 percent there, but is it totally there?" I would tell the writers, "OK, we're done," and I would call and say, "Well, actually I need you back for one more day because I want to go over one part."
It was harder to let go than ever before, in terms of script. It was a hard script to let go of, it was a hard story break to let go of. There is so much pressure on it and you want it to be good, but you can't write something wanting it to be good. You have to write the story. So I struggled a little bit with that, but there are also beautiful moments of closure and symmetry. The brilliant director Brad Silberling of the pilot was directing the final episode. We ended on the bus, which is where we ended the pilot six years ago. There was something cathartic about it because the characters were all saying goodbye, the actors, everyone was able to process their goodbyes a little bit. It was an emotional landscape, as I would expect it to be for a group of people who worked together for over five years.
And what an ending it was! Was that always the way you pictured Jane ending?
Yeah, it was the ending that I pitched when I was pitching the show. I pitched that last scene with Jane and Rafael (Justin Baldoni) and their lines. So that was pretty surreal. I got to make the ending and it was such a gift and [I'm amazed of] how it stayed on course to get there. There were so many twists and turns along the way that I could never have seen coming, but the writers' room really managed to keep it focused to where it was ultimately going to get. It was gratifying. It took a little while to process the ending. I hope people like it and feel like they were told a story that had an ending and it was a ride worth taking.
There has always been the debate between Team Michael and Team Rafael. At the end, we see Jane ends up with Rafael. Was it always meant to be that way?
It was always Rafael. It was always Rafael but that is not to say that [Michael wasn't a major part of Jane's life]. She married Michael and he was one of her great two loves. To me, it was always going to end with Jane and Rafael, but I don't think that negates the love story she had with Michael and how moving and transformative it was for Jane. It's just that she's in a telenovela, twists and turns happen. Her husband dies, she moves on, big things happen. But it was always going to be that she was going to be with Michael until he dies, and then was going to end with Rafael.
What was the hardest storyline to flesh out for the final season?
It's always the crime and making it interesting enough and different enough, [and] where we have the same villain -- because I love Bridget Regan and I love her [character] Rose. She was the one who started all the trouble for Jane. So how to bring that to a satisfying conclusion was a big part. And then what we really wanted [to conclude] was the story of Rafael's parents, because we knew it was something that we wanted to resolve this season. But there was a lot of discussion of how big or small that revelation would be in the course of the show, and ultimately we landed on making it smaller and more intimate, and landing at a moment where he thought that he needed this because he felt like he really wanted to know who his family was and then realizing that his family is all around him and he has everything he needs. I really liked how it landed emotionally and gave context to the family in the last season because I think so much of Jane is, you started with this very tight nuclear family, this threesome, Jane, her mom and her grandma, and really we worked hard to expand her family. That is what the pictures are at the end of the episode, all these people that they have now, to love and are part of their extended family. And who would have thought at the very beginning all these people would become a loving family?
You have a lot of new family members, but why have Rogelio (Camil) and Xiomara (Navedo) make a big move to New York at the end of the series?
This was something that speaks for Xo. I don't think this is something that she could have done at the beginning of the series. I liked that she is in a different place now and that they are going to fly back and forth from Florida to New York. It's a couple of hours away. Xo now has her husband and a new career and things are opening up for her and she's in a new phase of her life. She's able to take a step that I don't think she would have been able to do before. Often, you go away to college and that is a big "leaving the nest moment" where you strike out on your own and Xo didn't have that. I wanted this journey to leave her thinking that she can move away and know that nothing is really threatened back home. From the beginning, you saw Xo's relationship with her mother and how they fought, now they are the people they rely on. They know how much they mean to each other and respect each other and know that the bond is not fragile anymore. That was a big part and also it allowed us to play with the theme of goodbye, that you can still move away and keep your connections.
What is something viewers might not know about the final episode?
There are various cameos in the finale, Justin's parents are in, I'm briefly in it handing out water at the marathon. There's so many callbacks to the beginning, like seeing Gina and Rafael kiss on the bus as it pulls away, which mirrors the moment of Jane sitting in the bus by herself in the pilot right after she got inseminated and not realizing that her whole life is going to change. There's a lot of callbacks to the beginning if fans really look closely. Then there is the Mateo (Elias Janssen) reveal, of course!
Yes! Now that we know that Mateo was the narrator, how was the process of deciding how you were going to reveal who it was?
There was a lot of debate of -- we knew what it was going to be -- but how much dramatic real estate to give it and especially because of the build-up and the questions about who he is. I like that we were sort of restrained with it and it's just a piece of information in the fabric of this final show as all these threads are coming together. I think it's moving in that it's subtle.
Back in January, Gina posted a photo of herself with a baby bump and Mateo. Was that for the potential spinoff or an alternate ending/different storyline?
That was from, I think episode 509 or 510, when she was writing her book and writing her telenovela, and the worlds were getting mixed up and she was coming back saying, "It's not a milkshake. It's a baby," and she was writing her own history. That is when that picture was taken. It was part of the episode, she had her bump back on because a lot of this last season was the integration of Jane's life into her novel.
Speaking of the spinoff, Jane the Novela, unfortunately, didn't get picked up. What are the chances of trying to further Jane's story or creating another spinoff?
I don't know. Right now, I am happy to say goodbye and let it exist and really take that goodbye seriously.
What has been your favorite memory -- whether a specific episode, scene, pulling an all-nighter, the Golden Globe nominations and win, etc. -- from the series?
It's so hard to boil that down! There are so many favorite scenes, but getting that call that we got nominated for a Golden Globe and watching Gina win, that's something that I will never forget. Feeling that pride and watching her speech is something I will remember forever. It was a huge highlight.
There's also big scenes that really moved me, like when Xo gets breast cancer and the family just gets on their knees and prays -- that emotionally affects me every time I see it. Michael getting his memories back is a real emotional gut-punch for me and, really, the second episode where Gina had her breakdown on the porch swing about what it meant to be pregnant and how she didn't want it. That was a really stunning moment because that was when I was like, "Oh my gosh, she can do everything! Wow, what a gift I have?"
Gina is definitely so talented. While we hope that you work with her again, you have another project titled Broke with Jaime? What can you tell us about that show?
Yes, I'm doing Broke with Jaime. It's a sitcom, so it's a totally different feel. It's with him, Pauley Perrette, Natasha Leggero and Izzy Diaz. It's really been a joy to work on and nice to move onto something different in tone but still work with Jaime who I love so much. He is just so funny and built for sitcoms. I am just so thrilled to be able to put him in one.
And lastly, Jane the Virgin was unlike any series many have watched before: It starred a mostly Latino cast, three empowering female leads and was bilingual. When was the moment you realized that Jane was breaking barriers and having a positive impact on Latinxs in Hollywood and in the U.S.?
It was in that first season. I got so much positive feedback and I had so many people tweeting and writing to me about how much it meant to them. That was a really beautiful awakening for me, considering me and Gina have been in a six-year conversation about this, about Latinos onscreen and what she wants to see and bring into the world. She is so inspiring. I'm trying to help her in any way that I can and really -- this community that's been so embracing to me in terms of telling the story, and embracing the actors and the show -- I want to make sure that I keep giving back and provide more opportunities.
I hope to be able to help and lift up new voices and introduce more people to more storytelling.
For more from the Jane the Virgin cast, watch below.