Tina Kakadelis
YA Author


Burn Before Reading: A Carly Allen Story

The One Where I'm Pleasantly Surprised by The CW

Um, I feel like I've kept my love for Gina Rodriguez under wraps and I'm busting out. Gina Rodriguez is a national treasure. I love her. (Just watch her effortlessly destroy that Patriots football player in a rap battle.) I was watching the newest episode of Jane the Virgin and I've got a lot of feelings about it.

Jane's got a new boyfriend, Adam, and she finds out that he has some mutual friends with Jane's best friend's finacé. It turns out the finacé knows someone Adam used to date. Of course Jane's curious, so she looks at the photo the finacé pulls up and says the girl in the photo is pretty, but then Adam says, oh, no, not her. Adam dated the guy in the photo.

Jane talks to him about it later and asks if he's bisexual, to which he replies that he doesn't really like labels. That part bugged me because there's virtually ZERO bisexual representation in pop culture. Everyone's basically allergic to the word bisexual. (Hi, I'm not allergic to using the word bisexual. Buy my book, plz.)

Jane's acting weird now that she knows Adam's queer. She thinks that he's hitting on basically everyone he interacts with and Jane asks if the waiter at lunch is his type. Adam says he didn't notice because he's with Jane and that placates her for the time being, but she gets it in her head that bisexual people are more promiscuous. Which is some bullshit.

BUT it brought about one of the best scenes about bisexuality I've seen on TV. They had Jane blow it out of proportion, claiming that the reason him being bisexual bothered her was because he kept it from her. In reality, she just grew up in a heteronormative society where nobody talks positively about bisexuality, so she had some questions. The scenes destroyed the stigma that bisexual people are more promiscuous and that bisexuality is just a stepping stone to being 100% gay. Way to go, Jane the Virgin.

Speaking of The CW doing the right thing, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend put out a hell of an episode this week, too.

Dad, stop reading.

This season has let itself lean into the not-so-happy-go-lucky feelings that are the  opposite of what you'd expect for a musical show. It's been one of the best depictions of the reality of depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts I've seen on TV. Especially on teen dramas that used to be the bread and butter of The CW. Normally, a character would be sad for an episode or two before trying to commit suicide. The episode would end up as a cliffhanger with ambulance sirens wailing in the distance. Come next episode, the character's made a full recovery, never to speak of depression again.

When it comes to Rebecca Bunch's story, we've seen these feelings since day one. In the pilot, we hear her mom talk about how embarrassing it is that Rebecca tried to kill herself when she was young and how she didn't even break the skin. We see Rebecca get a massive job promotion, but she can't feel happy. She rushes to an alley and tries to convince herself that this is what happiness feels like. Rebecca Bunch is not okay. She hasn't been okay for a while.

Her mom eventually notices that something's deeply wrong because Rebecca's not giving her usual pushback. Of course, her attempts at fixing the problem are a little hardheaded and make things worse. Rebecca ends the episode on a plane with a stolen bottle of anxiety pills. The flight attendant comes over and asks if Rebecca is okay, and for the first time she says she doesn't know. She starts spiraling and asks if the pilot can just drop her off in a cornfield because even though the plane's going to LA, there's nobody there for her.

The flight attendant offers wine, which is the worst option, but Rebecca accepts. Then she starts taking the pills one by one. There was no fanfare, no "How to Save a Life" playing in the background that we're so accustomed to in pop culture. No. It was just the hard reality of watching a lost, struggling woman take pill after pill with the intent of ending it all.

She doesn't take enough to kill herself. In her haze when she wakes up, she sees the attendant again and then the attendant button by the light. When she blinks, the button now reads "help," and for the first time in a long time, Rebecca gets hope and help.