Humor in ‘Jane the Virgin,’ the New Telenovela

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Jane the Virgin is an American adaptation of Juana la virgen, a Latin American telenovela. The American version is a “dramedy” that takes place in Miami where the main characters are Latinx who speak or understand Spanish. The series brings social issues to the forefront with drama like telenovelas, but with a comic spin like sitcoms. In this presentation, de los Heros employs discourse analysis to examine the different mechanisms that produce humor in the show distinguishing two narrative levels: (a) a micro-level narrative (i.e. the dialog between the characters) and (b) a macro-level (i.e., a narrative manufactured for the audience). She will also categorize the different types of humor employed in the show and provide examples. Lastly, de los Heros demonstrates that despite humor contributing to negative representations of minorities in the media (including Latinx in JtV), Latinos’ accents and/or ethnicity are not sources of humor. Furthermore, the humor in the show helps to deconstruct some negative stereotypes. For instance, Rogelio the Latin Lover can be vain, but is unexpectedly tender and respectful of women and the over-sexualized Latina, Xiomara, puts her family first and is faithful to her husband.

For more than two decades, de los Heros has studied Spanish speakers’ use of humor to negotiate in-group and out-group identities in conversation and the effect of humor in the projection of different ethnic, gender or social groups in television series. Humor can make people laugh and diminish criticism, but it can also parody or mock “others” and create or solidify stereotypes. To study and classify different types of humor de los Heros combines The General Theory of Verbal Humor, and critical discourse analysis. The current study is in this line. Her objective is to analyze the mechanisms that trigger humor in the bilingual English-Spanish “dramedy” Jane the Virgin. De los Heros also wants to look at how humor affects the portrayal of Latinx in the US.