Favorite Fictional Characters, #380: Rogelio de la Vega
Updated: Feb 20
I was reluctant to start watching Jane the Virgin. We went in cold knowing nothing about it, and I wasn't sure what to make of the title. But we gave it a try, and I'm glad we did. The show is a goofy, saccharine, over-the-top dramedy with memorable characters and sudden plot twists worthy of the Latin telenovelas that inspired it. Jane's character arc as a young Latina aspiring novelist accidentally artificially inseminated kicks off five seasons that explore family and faith, dreams and despair, laughter and lamentation. It pushes the boundaries of what television can do, with magical realism that allows characters to appear in period costumes and yet also invites modern technology to the party with frequent use of texting and Twitter. Jane the Virgin produces a rarity in modern media fare, a tale about a Latinx family and their durable shared values even as life takes them on a weird journey. Throughout the bizarre narrative machinations, the core of the show is the love that unites Jane's family - her mother, her grandmother, her husbands, her son. And her father, Rogelio de la Vega.
Jane the Virgin is mostly about women - their relationships, their joys, their reliance on one another. And I could have written about any of them (especially Petra). But Rogelio is the scene-stealing lifeblood of the series, a vain, often clueless Mexican telenovela star who does not come into his daughter's life until she is near thirty. He generallyn devours the scenery whenever he is on camera with an insatiable lust for fame and fortune. His ego is usually played for laughs, and yet there's a real sweetness and wisdom to Rogelio. He is devoted to his wife, Jane's mother Xo, whom he finally marries mid-run, and treats her as an equal partner. He extends a hand of friendship and welcome to Jane's suitors Michael and Rafael, and his relationship with grandmother Alba is so respectful and real. But it is Jane who he loves the most - when the love triangle between her and the boys heats up, he steadfastly remains #Jane. He supports his daughter's ambitions and choices, giving her inspiration when needed and always - always - insisting on the primacy of family.
He's a lovable loon, Rogelio de la Vega - daffy and self-absorbed. And yet his heart is made of gold - gold he willingly shares with those he loves.