Riley Heruska
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The story of Jane Villanueva, the honest and hard-working protagonist of Jane the Virgin, sounds incredibly over the top. Seriously, the premise of the show practically screams “ridiculous telenovela.” Don’t believe me? Well, Jane, who has made a vow to save her virginity for marriage, is accidentally inseminated with the sperm of a man she once had a crush on. This causes issues with her family, and more prominently, with her current fiance. So, yes, there’s a love triangle. I can practically hear you rolling your eyes, but wait, there’s more. Jane then meets her father for the first time, becomes involved with a ring of criminal drug lords, and attempts to write a romance novel while carrying the child of a man she’s never had sex with.

In a nutshell, the plot is insane and completely implausible… so why does this comedy-drama have an amazing score on Rotten Tomatoes and millions of fans across the country, as well as a handful of awards?

Character Development

In a world of Walter Whites and generally dishonest television characters, it’s rare to stumble across one who is full of candid sincerity. Jane’s loyalty to those she loves, as well as her own morals, makes her an extremely refreshing character. She’s well-developed and quirky, as are the other members of the show’s entertaining cast. Gina Rodriguez plays Jane’s character beautifully, and if I’m going to be quite frank, she makes the show the gem that it is.

Strong Writing

Jane the Virgin is narrated by an amusing, romantic third-person, who seems to be watching the show along with us. His little quips about the characters bring humor to even the most morbid scenes, and it feels as though we are watching a parody and a drama at the same time. The writers also include utterly perfect transitions between the different characters’ stories, wittily tying everything together. As critic Josh Bell said in Las Vegas Weekly, the writing is “both cleverly self-aware and unabashedly emotional.”

The Absurdity That Somehow Doesn’t Seem Absurd  

Yes, the concept of a virgin giving birth outside of a religious text seem ridiculous, as do many of the plot developments that occur throughout this show. Over the course of three seasons, Jane the Virgin only gets crazier, and yet somehow it works. From mysterious family pasts to gruesome murders, anything seems to fly on this show, and yet the writers spin every plot-twist with good humor.

Social Commentaries

Jane’s grandparents moved to America from Venezuela, and the show is jam packed with cultural references, Spanish, and even a few heated discussions regarding immigration. Political commentary certainly isn’t the main focus of the dramadey, but the undertones are there. There are also beautifully interwoven themes of feminism in the plot as Jane struggles to create a career for herself while balancing a surprise pregnancy and motherhood. The show’s self-awareness and ability to subtly reference controversial social concepts points to its brilliancy.

It’s Funny

The show is extremely satirical as it makes light of a wide range of events, from kidnappings to dirty diapers. As a loose adaptation of a real telenovela (Juana la Virgen in Venezuela), Jane the Virgin simultaneously mocks and pays homage to the classic Spanish soap operas. You can’t help but laugh at the sticky situations Jane constantly finds herself in, and the added graphic effects and ever-present narrator only add to the delightful humor.

Jane the Virgin first aired on The CW back in 2014, but luckily for you, the first two seasons are now on Netflix. Rumor has it that season three might make an appearance there in the coming months. Therefore, you have no excuse not to enjoy the hilarity from the comfort of your home and your comfiest sweatpants. Warning: there’s a strong possibility that you’ll find yourself avidly addicted to the show as soon as you begin, so you might want to prepare your friends and family for your impending absence from social gatherings. 

Riley Heruska
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Because there is still good in this world, today is National Pancake Day! You know what that means: free hot, sticky, delicious pancakes from IHOP.

Only today, from 7 AM to 7 PM (10 PM at special locations), you will receive a free short stack of buttermilk pancakes from any IHOP in celebration of the holiday. Although the pancakes are free, the restaurant will ask you to donate to their charity partners to support children who are battling dangerous sicknesses. IHOP is aiming to raise $3.5 million this year, so every contribution helps!

According to IHOP's website, the pancake makers have been hosting this event since 2006, and over the course of the past decade, customers have helped them to raise more than $24 million for children in need! To learn more about which charities IHOP has partnered with, you can visit

So what are you waiting for? Go help IHOP make a difference AND indulge in some syrupy goodness! 

Riley Heruska
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Anyone who lives in the Fairview or Allen area has witnessed the giant boom in retail shops and restaurants along the stretch of Stacy Road immediately before Central Expressway. Over the course of the past decade, empty fields have been transformed into In N’Outs and JcPenney’s. It's rare to go more than a month or so before hearing about a new addition to the expanse of shopping and dining. Although some early residents have been saddened to see the countryside modernized, many families of the area are excited by the easily accessible amenities.

The Village at Fairview, added roughly eight years ago, has changed time and time again, with stores switching locations multiple times and new additions constantly being considered. Despite the center's prime location along busy Stacy Road and 75, the Fairview side has always seemed a little lonelier and less stable than her twin across the road, The Village at Allen. I remember being ecstatic when a bookstore and multiple fashion retailers popped up on the Fairview side years ago, but lately, most of those sites sit unoccupied. In fact, more than 30% of the center's windows have often been empty. The question is, why? Why is one side struggling so much while the other continuously grows in popularity? 

Now things are about to change: Lincoln Property has a new plan for the northern side of Stacy Road. Many people might not be aware that the Village at Fairview quietly acquired a new owner, but there are big plans in the work for the shopping center and its retailers. According to Dallas News, more than $50 million will be spent sprucing up the center and adding to the list of amenities already in place. The new owner promises a lot of new leases, as well as a brand new central green space. Hopefully, the Fairview side will soon be rivaling the immense success of The Village at Allen. 

A large amount of construction, according to Dallas News, will take place this coming summer. What do you hope to see at the Village of Fairview, soon to be the “Fairview Town Center”? Comment below!


Riley Heruska
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I know, I know, we all wish we were jetting off to some exotic location for 2017’s spring break with sunscreen and swimsuits in tow. Unfortunately, the reality is that many of us aren’t able to abandon all of our responsibilities in favor of a luxurious vacation. Having said that, whether you’re staying home to avoid busting open your piggy bank or because you have little ones to care for, don’t resign yourself to springtime monotony just yet. There are plenty of options for every Texan that are both cost-effective and refreshing. Here are some tried and true suggestions. 

Take a Day Trip Somewhere

Yes, you’re staying “home,” but that does not mean that you and your family are on house arrest for the week. The beauty of living in a state like Texas is that there are dozens of different road trips one can take in a day. Our state is home to more than a few gorgeous national parks, and spring break provides the perfect opportunity (and hopefully weather) to try your hand at hiking or camping. Not into the whole nature thing? San Antonio, Dallas, and Austin all provide an abundance of activities for any traveler. Bars, museums, outdoor activities, restaurants, you name it, they've got it. Staying “home” doesn't require lounging around in your living room watching Netflix. Take the free time to finally make some road trips around the state.

Go Camping - In Your Backyard

This idea is especially perfect for families, but teens and couples might also enjoy stargazing from the comfort of their own yard. Backyard camping is both cost-effective and convenient: no packing up the car with campfire supplies and 27 bottles of bug spray, and no camping permits! Simply drag a tent and some sleeping bags outside and commence with the cookouts and campfire songs. Who says your own backyard can’t become a vacation destination?

Do Something Touristy

I have lived in the Dallas area my entire life, and I have never visited the JFK Museum. Sad, right? Chances are, you (like me) haven’t taken time out of your busy day-to-day schedule to act like a tourist in your own home. Well, if you can’t be a tourist somewhere new, why not embrace the opportunity to treat your hometown like an unfamiliar city? Visit that one monument where every tourist takes cheesy pictures or look up the top activities for your area on Trip Advisor. You’ll be surprised by many of the experiences your seemingly-boring home can offer.

Plan a Day at the Lake

Sure, none of the lakes in Texas really rival exquisite Hawaiian beaches, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t beautiful. Nothing will make you feel more like you’re on vacation than jet-skiing over waves or exploring hidden caves along shoresides. Plus, when you head back to work or school, you might even have that sun-kissed glow that everyone works so hard to achieve over the break. To find the best lake near you and to learn about state regulations for fishing and more, you can visit Texas Lake Finder.

Make a Spring Break Bucket List

Before the break even begins, make a to-do list, and not one full of chores. This is your chance to finally do some of those fun things you’ve been meaning to do for so long. Yeah, there’s the typical spring cleaning that can be done, but open your mind to other ideas. What about that Oscar nominated movie you’ve been meaning to see for months? Or the new shop with to-die for dresses that opened recently? Come on, you know you've been wanting to visit the zoo for years. Whatever it is, there’s some to-do that can add a splash of color to your staycation. Consider asking your children, significant other, or family members for ideas that you can do together. 

Attend a Musical or Sporting Event 

A concert, game, or other event can be a great way to break the week up. Even children can enjoy big events, and they might even develop a new love for a sport or style of music. After all, I was only like 12 when I went to my first Kelly Clarkson concert, and I still remember it very fondly. Although tickets to professional sports games and big-name musicians’ concerts can be a little pricey, the experience is usually worth the cost. If you really want to pinch pennies, consider sitting on the grass at an outdoor concert. Even bad seats at an awesome game or concert are better than no seats!

Treat Yo’Self

Despite what you may think, pamper sessions are not just for housewives or Elle Woods. Everyone deserves to indulge a little bit every now and then, regardless of age or gender. Men can consider visiting a fancy barber shop while women enjoy a much-needed manicure. Not into that kind of stuff? Shop, spend a day reading, or get your clothes dry-cleaned. Just pick one meaningful treat and refuse to feel guilty about it. If you’re trying to treat your kids, you might let them stay up late one night or make a special meal. It’s not about the price or the extravagance, as long as its something enjoyable that you rarely do. 

So, maybe a staycation doesn't call for tears or excessive TV binge-sessions. What will you guys be doing with your time off? Feel free to comment with any of your ideas!