By: Emma Sweeney
Selena Quintanilla continues to inspire people around the world with her talent, vitality, and the intertwinement of both her Mexican roots and American culture in her music.
Selena is not only known for her talent, but for being one of music’s greatest tragedies. On March 31, 1995, at the age of 23, Selena was shot in the back by her fan-club manager, Yolanda Saldivar, who is serving life in prison for her murder.
Her infamous death made her an idol to many, including a new generation who is just learning her story. Selena is praised for her accomplishments as both a woman and a member of the Latinx community; her energetic and lively persona makes her memorable on and off stage.
Selena: The Series was released on Netflix on December 4, 2020, sharing Selena’s iconic story to a new generation. The show follows the movie, Selena, released in 1997, which debuted a young Jennifer Lopez, bringing Lopez to fame as she received a Golden Globe nomination.
The star who plays Selena in the new Netflix series, Christian Serratos, felt the pressure while filling Lopez’s shoes: “I knew what I was walking into, and it did make me a little – nervous, but I understood Selena paved the way for women like me, but so did Jennifer. I love that movie so much, and I love what she did in that film,” said Serratos to USA Today.
The series takes place in Texas during the 1980s- showcasing the colorful fashion, bright makeup, changing hairstyles, and Selena’s musical inspirations such as Jody Whitley and Madonna.
The show starts when Selena’s father, a former musician named Abraham, hears Selena sing in their backyard and realized she could become a star. With Selena’s brother, AB, playing bass and Selena’s sister, Suzette, on the drums, the family band, Selena y Los Dinos, was born.
However, her father, dedicates everything to his family, making him stern and controlling over the band’s career.
The family faces financial struggles, so the band is a vital source of income. As the band receives more attention, the family lands on their feet and finds financial gain.
Towards the end of the season, the audience meets Selena’s future husband, Chris Perez. When they need to find a new guitarist, AB hires Chris, who Abraham deems dangerous. Selena falls for him despite her father’s disapproval. Selena and Chris hide their relationship from Abraham, but when Abraham eventually finds out, he threatens to disband the band if they do not end their relationship, but Selena refuses and declares her love for him. Abraham kicks Chris off the tour bus and fires him. The season ends with Selena watching Chris as they drive away.
Selena and Chris’ love story are romantic as they are star- crossed lovers and bond over their passion for music. The next season will cover the future of their relationship.
In addition, in the last episode, Abraham tasks Suzette with finding a manager for Selena’s fan club and Yolanda is introduced for the first time, so her arrival is teased for the next season.
Selena’s incredible costumes, heart- warming personality, and her star power are all brought back to life in this series, but critics condemn the show’s lack of focus on Selena’s emotions and character depth.
“‘Selena: The Series’ ends up feeling like a Cliff’s Notes take on Selena y los Dinos, the band, and not the woman at the center of it. For all the talk about Selena’s significance in the group, the series leaves her muted, little more than the goose who laid the golden egg that everyone wants to use to profit,” says Kristen Lopez in Indie Wire.
Even though the show is named after Selena, the people around Selena are prioritized, rather than Selena herself.
“The Series often sidelines Christian Serratos’s meek version of Selena and looks elsewhere for narrative, as if she’s just along for the ride rather than in the driver’s seat,” says Monica Castillo in The Ringer.
Selena: The Series was produced by Selena’s family, Suzette Quintanilla and Abraham Quintanilla, so it is clear they had a say in how they wanted to be portrayed.
Selena’s family wants her to be remembered as gorgeous and talented, which she is, but the show only focuses on her perfection, and not her true thoughts.
More emphasis is given on Selena’s brother and father, who are both hardworking and serious. AB becomes a young father, struggling with balancing work and his family life, much like his father.
Selena grapples with her identity as a Mexican- American. People want her to choose between two cultures, but she desires to be her true self. She only learns Spanish through singing, as her father thinks singing in Spanish is the only way to connect to the Latinx audience and to grow a fan base.
Shedding more light on her in depth perspective would have been essential to the meaning and relatability of the show.
Despite the poor reviews, it is worth watching to see the breakout of a titular legend, who continues to inspire 25 years after her death.
Selena is not just a tragedy. She was a Mexican- American woman who found fame at a young age and acted like a normal teenager. She should not be looked at for what she could have accomplished if she did not meet an unfair, cruel fate, rather, she should be seen for her trailblazing nature and inspiration for girls like her.
Selena carved the way for women in a male- dominated industry and reintroduced Mexican culture into American pop, upholding her title as the “Queen of Tejano music.”