Deconstructing the Disposable Fiancé: The Love of Michael Cordero Jr.

What How Wee Readers – well I hope you all had a good holiday time in december – and for all our sakes let’s hope 2022, is slightly less depressing than 2021. Yet there are still bright days in even the darkest times, and I have to admit something quite exciting happened to me. I’ve finally, I have a new job! While this is undoubtedly a good thing, because it’s a housekeeping job it’s very physically hard work, and because I’m high functioning autistic – I also find it very emotionally draining too.

Which for the sake of this post means that after work, I usually collapse on my sofa and binge watch my current favorite Netflix show:  Jane the Virgin. Jane the Virgin is a very loose adaption of the Venezuelan telenovela Juana la Virgin; that premiered on the CW network in 2014 and finally reached the end of its five season long run, on July 31st 2019. The series tells the story of devout catholic Jane Villanueva, who has promised her grandmother that she will stay a virgin until she gets married. A prospect that doesn’t look that far away when it looks like her long-time boyfriend – Michael Cordero Jr – is set to propose. However, things start going wrong when during a routine smear test – Jane gets accidently artificially inseminated.

And things only get stranger from there.

Who is Michael?

Michael is introduced to us as a hardworking, and cunning detective – who loves Jane with all the power of his still beating heart. His purpose in the story is to be one point of the love triangle between Jane, Rafael and himself. #TeamMicheal for life, if you couldn’t tell – not uncommon plot point even outside of the Romance drama. Can anyone say, Hunger Games – pour some out for my hommies on #TeamGale, we can’t win them all.

While Rafael represents new and exciting love in Jane’s life – being the father of her artificially conceived baby – Michael is the old and the familiar. The love that has stayed true, long before the plot got involved. And part of the conflict for the story is which kind of love will Jane choose – the flashy new kind, or the old and true.

Ultimately Michael is a person of two sides – he is a brave man who could have well been the hero of his own story. And he is an inconvenient man, who could well have been the villain of Rafael’s story. But ultimately, he is neither because in the end this is not Michael’s story, or Rafael’s story, it’s Jane’s story.

Thus, to truly understand Michael as a character we must examine his role in Jane’s story, and how he ultimately subverts it. And what is his role you might ask?

The disposable fiancé

To best illustrate exactly what the Disposable Fiancé is as a trope, I would like you to think back to one of those terrible Christmas films you saw over the holiday. Don’t look at me like that, we all see at least one, don’t lie to yourself. Okay you’ve got the film in your head, good. Now unless the film is very specific, you’ll probably going to come across some surprising similarities between each of their plots.

First, you’ll have a woman who thinks she’s satisfied with her city life, complete with city long-term boyfriend/ fiancé. But then suddenly, inciting incident happens and she has to pick up and move/ stay temporarily in a sweet, innocent, village out in the country. Something that I can tell you for a fact, is not true, the village I used to live in was not innocent or wholesome at all. Anyway, where was I, oh yes – where finally she meets the one true love. Who sometimes is a lot nicer than the original fiancé, but most of the time is only better because he visualizes a superior way of life.

The strangeness here is not really that so many films follow the same formula over and over again, it’s Netflix, that’s basically all they do now. It’s not even notable that the choice between a person’s social life is encapsulated in their love interests – I mean that’s basically every piece of fiction ever. No, what I find notable is the wrong path is illustrated by such a long-term relationship.

My point, if this life is wrong for her and she’s so easily going to throw it away – why make them engaged at all?

Could it be high-lightening how we as a society are always looking over the hedge at what we don’t have – to fill that aching void inside ourselves? Could be, we are a capitalist society after all. Or could it be that to establish the strength of the writer’s preferred couple, the heroine’s romantic-false lead has to be a big enough threat to the course of true love. And we can’t have him be that, by being a caring and loving partner – after all, then we might feel bad that he’s being emotionally cheated on.

Or perhaps there’s no reason at all.

Regardless of the reason why ,through this example we have established some basic facts, and common traits of our Disposable fiancé.

  1. He’s established a long-term relationship with the heroine before the start of the story.
  2. He often engages in morally dubious actions – to establish that we’re not supposed to be rooting for him as the end goal love interest.
  3. He’s often encapsulates the kind of world (and or mind set) our heroine needs to escape and or grow out of.
  4. When the main couple does get together, the fact that this man has to have his heart broken so that our lovebirds can have their happy ending – is treated like a good thing, if it’s mentioned at all.
  5. Before the events of the story, the heroine believes she’s happy with him.

Ways in which Jane the Virgin stays true to the disposable fiancé trope

  1. An already established relationship with the female lead – yep, Michael proposes to Jane in the very first episode, and if the plot hadn’t already gotten started, she would defiantly have said yes.
  2. Morally dubious actions – Though a good man deep down and where it matters, Michael does engage in some shifty behavior at the start of the show. Including but not limited to, bribing Petra to break off her affair with Roman so Jane will give the baby to her; and conducting an illegal search of Rafael’s (the rival to Jane’s heart) secret safe, without a warrant.
  3. Heroine is (or at least believes she’s) happy before the story – yes, Jane is very happy with Michael before the plot.

Ultimately though what segments Michael as at least in part a disposable fiancé, is that he and Jane are not endgame for the series. So, in the narrative sense no matter how far the story goes to relay Michael’s worthiness as a character, he will always be disposable. And that’s a sad thought for any character.

Ways in which it subverts the disposable fiancé trope

  • Encapsulates the kind of life that the Heroine doesn’t need – No, there’s no hints that what Michael and Jane want at the beginning of the series – marriage, kids, a happy and stable family life – ever diverge.
  • His heartbreak is treated as joke at best, or a triumph of the hero at worst – No, whenever Jane and Michael break it off, both parties’ feelings on the matter are treated with the kind of seriousness that such things deserve.

However, the neat list aside, I belive that what really subverts this ‘disposable finance’ trope in Jane the Virgin, is the fact that Michael stays in the story far longer than your average disposable boyfriend/fiancé should. He’s there throughout the story doing his detective work, or reminding Jane of their time together. Often not deliberately just by still continuing to exist in the story.

Which is ultimately one of the strengths of not only Michael as a character but Jane the Virgin as a whole – it goes beyond the ‘main’ couple getting together. Of course, there’s nothing wrong, per say, with a story ending there. But by going past that point – past the first break up of Jane and Michael. Where Jane realises Michael’s being lying to her about Petra’s affair, and just can’t trust him anymore. Past the point where she tearfully gives him his ring back; and even past the point when that same night she madly kisses Rafael, and gets together with him. By going past that point, the show highlights that often the main weakness of the ‘disposable fiancé’ trope is not actually the fiancé himself. Counterintuitive as that sounds. Sure, in a lot of the more badly written Netflix /Hallmark films he is a card-carrying scumbag with no greater depth to his character than a speed bump. But to be honest, fixing his character won’t fix the story. You can make him the nicest guy on the planet if you want, or at least make him feel like a real person. But either way something in the story will feel hollow and that’s because the fault lies not in the character himself but the role he represents.

For if such a long term, well-established relationship is nothing but disposable, then the love that is replacing it must be something truly transcendent. And that’s a lot to put on any relationship, let alone one that’s so often in its infancy. While I have watched some films that try to answer this by illustrating the superiority of the new love interest – often on a moral ground – to the old one, sometimes they don’t even try that much. Relying instead on how terrible the ‘disposable fiancé’ was/is to establish the final romantic choice of the heroine as the right one.

By going past this point – where the main couple get together – Jane the Virgin establishes the weakness in the premise that new is automatically better. As because they are such a new relationship, Jane and Rafael don’t really know each other at this point. By no accounts a strange phenomenon; but because the circumstances around their connection are so unusual, with possible hints that they are destined to be – this causes both parties to rush into a deeper commitment than was strictly healthy for their fledgeling relationship. With Rafael even trying to by-pass the early stages and skip straight to marriage before either party is really ready for it.

While (Spoiler) Jane and Rafael do end up being endgame, because the narrative doesn’t take that shortcut of having all their relationship conflict be from an external source – i.e., a disposable fiancé – their relationship is allowed to grow and mature at a more natural rate. Thus it feels in some ways much more real.

So, in conclusion, Michael is great and if Jane and Rafael want to be together – that’s fine, he doesn’t need them.

If you’ve enjoyed this weird ramble of mine, don’t forget to follow the Wee Writing Blog if you haven’t already and check me out on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Tumblr and Goodreads for all that good stuff. Also sign up for the Wee Mailing List before February the 28th to find out the five best looking men on Jane the Virgin and why. Until next time Wee Readers, stay safe and have a very bonny day.

We now interrupt your regular scheduled programming with a message from a Wee Lassie

What Ho My Wee Readers – I’m back, and I haven’t died or vanished from the face of the earth. Unfortunately my course work became somewhat overwhelming – so I had to make some cutbacks on the rest of my work, and the blog lost out mainly because there isn’t a deadline for the work I do here.

Anyway, happy times ahead because I’m back, along with some exciting news. Check out my Stories page and you’ll find a brand new addition – my short story, ‘The Squirrel’ was accepted for issue 7 of the online magazine, Route 7. Check it out and marvel at the authentic use of Doric. Also, we’ll have some new blog posts hopeful up soon, including but not limited to:

12 Vegan Meals cooked by a complete amateur

Due to some personal reasons, I’ve taken control of the cooking for my family – behold and watch the terror unfold before you

The Top Ten Books of a Wee Lassie’s GoodReads Challenge

If you’ve followed me on GoodReads than you might know that I’ve finally completed my Reading Challenge for the year – this is my top ten favorites.

Cool Motive, Still Murder: an in-depth look at why the Sherlock Christmas special is not feminist, it’s stupid

I think this one speaks for itself.

A World without Aliens: why what works for Firefly, can’t work for Star Wars

Ditto with this one

Friends: This is not the Best Day of Your Life

Din’t you ever find it both annoying and very strange how Friends treated the desire to be a bride, not only as expected for women, but so commonplace that even women from completely different countries, can understand it in each other, even over their own future husbands. Yes, it’s another Friends post – but if the Friends’ writers didn’t want lengthy think pieces twenty five years after their show began, then they should have taken more care to make it age better.

The Amateur Vegan Cook: Christmas Lunch addition

Yes, that’s right I’m cooking Christmas Dinner this year

And since J.K Rowling is kicking up dirt again – surprise everyone who hasn’t read my earlier post, J.K. Rowling is supporting a transphobe – I’ll be talking a bit about her work, and just well…all the things I kind of just let slide first time round, because of the lightening bolt shaped stars in my eyes. Also the fact that I was basically six when I started reading the Harry Potter books.

And that’s about it – a story published, an update that I’m not quite dead yet, and some plans for the future.

If you’ve enjoyed this Wee refresher into the insanity which is my mind, don’t forget to follow the wee blog if you haven’t already. Also check me out on Instagram and Twitter, along with my Goodreads, Pinterest and Tumblr accounts. Thank you for your infinite patience during this long hiatus between posts that we’ve somehow found ourselves in – I’ll try not to take so long with the next one. So, until next time my wee readers, have a bonny day.

Just a brief note before we leave, if you’ve enjoyed this and other posts like it on the Wee Writing Lassie, why not buy me a Wee Cup of Coffee, or drop me a tip over on Ko-fi. Which is linked to the image below.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

7 impertinent questions for Ailish Sinclair

Set in the the late sixteenth century, at the height of the Scottish witchcraft accusations, The Mermaid and the Bear , by Scottish Author Ailish Sinclair – out now in paperback and Kindle – is a story of triumph over evil, hope through adversity, faith in humankind and – above all – love.

Now I know what you’re thinking – well that sounds terrific Wee Lassie, I would really like to read that! But why are you talking about it? Well, never fear my Wee Readers , I shall explain all. Recently I’ve received some very exciting news – fellow Author, Ailish Sinclair, has had her book – The Mermaid and the Bear – published. I was very excited anyway, as I am when any fellow writing Lassie gets her book published – especially when they mention me in the acknowledgements ( buy it and check it out, I’m mentioned under my birth name Charlotte) – and then something occurred to me. Ho, ho, I said, this is something my Wee Readers should know about, after all by your very nature you are readers. So thus, with the idea in place I approached Ailish herself, and formed a plan.

The basic idea for this post was an interview, which is kind of what we ended up with, but with a bit of twist. As we already knew each other, the questions didn’t have to be quite so formal, they could be…down right impertinent even. Okay, let’s start with a Wee Introduction: Ailish Sinclair is an author from the north of Scotland – like yours truly – who was trained as a dancer in London; before returning back up North, where she taught ballet and met her husband. She now lives beside a loch with said husband and two children, surrounded by castles and stone circles, where she writes and dances (yes, still) and apparently eats a lot of cake.

Ailish loves Stone Circles

Her book is refreshingly also set up North in the region of Aberdeenshire, in the late sixteenth century – during a period of our history that’s not often talked about by the wider world, or indeed Scotland itself: the Aberdeen Witchcraft panic of 1597. There’s a real feeling of authenticity when it comes to Sinclair’s writing: from the clear amount of research that has gone into every aspect of late sixteenth century life, right down to the accurate Scottish dialect that many of the characters speak in. I’m not going to harp on too long about this, since it’s neither the focus of the book nor this post , but it’s very rare to find Doric in a modern book – which if you’re like me and live in a place where that’s just how people talk , it’s nice to not be left out for once. Another inclusive detail in Ailish’s novel is the fact that her heroine – Isobell – is a plus sized women, and this is never treated like a problem, or something about her that needs to be fixed, by the narrative. All body type inclusion, yeah!

Alright, enough with the introductions already, on with the impertinent questions.

7. As a fellow Writing Lassie from up here in Scotland, would you say your book has something more, or deeper, to say about Scottish culture than can be found in other books?

I live in Aberdeenshire, where the book is set, and have done so for most of my life. I hope my deep love for the countryside comes across in the narrative, and that I’ve captured the way people speak and behave towards one another here. I had to tone down the local language somewhat to make it easier to understand. ‘Ken fit like?’

6. You’ve mentioned before in other interviews that you become quite intense with your research when you’re writing a Historical Novel. So, my question is, what’s the maddest thing you’ve ever done in the name of research?

Eating primroses? Sliding down dangerous cliff sides in bare feet? Cross examining the poor wardens in St Nicholas Kirk? I’m not really sure about the maddest. The hardest part was knowing when to stop. When is enough information enough? Research could go on forever, but once the story has formed firmly round it, and you know what sort of underwear everyone was wearing, it’s probably time to write the book.

5. Now that you’re getting published, and you can look back on your career with a clinical eye – what would you say was the first moment you felt like a real writer?

I actually think the most precious writing time is well before publication is even being considered. It’s that first draft. Anything is possible then. Fall in love with your story and your characters and they will lead you to all sorts of places you never imagined possible. So, to answer your question: when I was working on the first draft, and wanting to write it ALL the time, rushing home to get back to it, thinking about it ALL the time… that’s when I felt like a real writer.

4. As a confessed recovering Chocoholic, was it terribly difficult to leave the substance out of The Mermaid and the Bear?

Well, I felt deeply sorry for my poor characters that they couldn’t have any chocolate of course, but not so sorry that I withheld it from myself. I have to confess that I am, in fact, not in recovery, and have no intention of ever being so!

3. Your new novel – The Mermaid and the Bear – deals with the long-forgotten Aberdeen witchcraft panic of 1597. By choosing this subject you have brought the voices of women unjustly forgotten by history into the public eye again. What I want to ask is, is there a feminist undertone to your choice of subject matter; and if not, is there some other reason you were drawn to that particular area of Scottish history?

Given that 85% of those accused of witchcraft in Scotland were women, yes, there is definitely a feminist side to the novel. Women supporting each other, standing strong against misogyny, and believing they have the right to aspects of life that were the dominion of men at the time, and even now, do come into the story.

2.Okay, let’s dig a little deeper. If you were put on the spot, like I’m doing to you now, and you were forced to choose a person or persons (plural), that you really admired in that part of history. Who would it be?

Anyone who stood up to oppression and abuse. These people rarely make it into the recorded history of the time, so historical fiction provides scope to write about bravery, love and heroic acts as they might have happened. When bad events occur there are always those who stand strong and true, often among those who are persecuted themselves.

1. Alright final question, and then I’ll let you go. Would you say that the romantic hero of The Mermaid and the Bear – The Laird – resembles anyone you know in real life?

While aspects of his character were inspired by a local historical Laird, my fictional Laird is a little bit like my own husband. I am lucky to be married to a man who accepts people as they are, doesn’t judge anyone on outward appearance, and has an open heart and mind, just like Thomas Manteith!

Ailish Sinclair and Husband
Ailish and Husband house shopping

I love that final answer, it always make me well up – especially if you’ve read her mention of him in the acknowledgments.

If you’ve enjoyed these impertinent questions to the emerging Author Ailish Sinclair, remember to follow my wee blog if you haven’t already, and check me out on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and my Tumblr account – or sign up to the Wee Mailing List. However if you’ve also enjoyed the long suffering answers of Ailish herself, remember to follow her wee blog here and sign up to her Mailing List here. Also check her out on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest , Facebook and Goodreads. And don’t forget to check out the The Mermaid and the Bear, now out on Kindle and Paperback where all decent books are sold. Until next time my Wee Readers, have a bonny day.

Just a brief note before we leave, if you’ve enjoyed this and other posts like it on the Wee Writing Lassie, why not buy me a Wee Cup of Coffee, or drop me a tip over on Ko-fi. Which is linked to the image below.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com