“Her development is both moving and mind-blowing”
BY YAIZA CANOPOLI
I don’t think there has been a better character development arc on TV than Jane The Virgin’s Petra. At least not since Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender, and that was 2008. I mean, how often do you get a powerful business woman go from uptight and vengeful to loving and openly bisexual? (She is still kind of uptight though. And I love it.)
Jane The Virgin has given us so much over the past five year – rarely does a show allow space for so many different types of families. They are messy families, and they are full of love. An accidentally artificially inseminated woman finds out the father of her child is the brother of the doctor who did the insemination. Then the ex-wife of the father secretly inseminates herself to lock him down. And suddenly there’s two blonde twins and one small boy, and they make a wonderfully weird three-parent family. The most important rule: no one is allowed to miss Sunday brunch!
The show gave us a few queer characters from the start, but I think we can all agree that they weren’t the greatest. Luisa, the alcoholic doctor who inseminated Jane, is a bit of a basket case, and she is mostly a nuisance who messes up everyone’s lives. She is lovable in her own way, but not the most amazing LGBTQI representation. Her sort-of girlfriend, Rose, is an international crime lord – she certainly makes for a very powerful lesbian, but again she is mostly evil and not very admirable.
Now that the show has come to an end, I can say that Petra’s coming-out arc gave us something different. She discovers her sexuality when she’s already a mother and has dated exclusively men beforehand, which is a very different story to most teenage coming out scenarios. She also makes no fuss about being queer – she realises she likes a woman, and just like with anything else she wants, she goes and gets it. Her development is both moving and mind-blowing; it is her family that initially changes her and gives her the love she has never had, but her relationship with J.R. takes her all the way, helping her realise that she wants to be a kinder, better person.
She is a unique, powerful, and quirky character, played by talented actress Yael Grobglas. The latter was touched by the amount of messages she received from queer women who were positively affected by her portrayal of a bisexual lady boss in a loving relationship. Her bisexual bob (it’s a real thing) was certainly much appreciated, and the onscreen use of the word “bisexual” satisfied my need for some genuinely good queer representation. Her same-sex relationship with J.R. has depth to it, and it feels meaningful and well paced; nothing about it is written into the show for empty box-checking.
Petra is a complex, often hilarious character, and a very welcome addition to the world’s small archive of bisexual representation. She will be missed!
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