If you’re a Jane the Virgin fan, you may have been a little taken aback when you turned on the Season 4 premiere on Oct. 13. The episode had all of the usual characters, except for one glaring omission — little Mateo, son of Gina Rodriguez’s Jane Villanueva.
When we last saw Jane’s four-year-old boy, he was played by the adorable Joseph Sanders. The little one joined in the middle of Season 3, when the show flashed forward to take Mateo from babbling baby to witty toddler. Over a near-dozen episodes, fans fell in love with Joseph, so imagine their shock when he was replaced by Elias Janssen in the promo posters for the new year — and in the first ep.
But this switch up wasn’t as well-received as the show might have liked. In fact, Gina Rodriguez had to take to Twitter to defend her new on-screen son, after a number of fans made some rude comments about the kindergartener. "I'm going to need all y'all commenting on new Mateo to take one dirty second and realize you are insulting a 5 year old!" she tweeted.
Hopefully, viewers will learn to be a little more welcoming to the cutie pie. It may reassure them to know it was actually Joseph’s choice to leave the show in the first place. TVLine sources report that the pint-sized actor is too busy with school to continue on with the busy filming schedule, something his mom confirmed on Twitter. She also thanked fans, The CW, and the other stars on the show for supporting her son.
So as bummed as you might be to see the old Mateo go, it should warm your heart to see Joseph enjoying life as a normal kid. In recent weeks, his mom’s posted pics of him having a blast playing soccer, riding his bike, and playing the violin. And don’t worry — he’s still finding time to do the occasional acting gig!