While the series provides a detailed backstory of Selena Quintanilla’s extended family, Selena: The Series, fails to showcase the personal life of the Queen of Tejano Music, instead pushing her to the back of the screen in favor of her family.
By Victoria Vidales
Selena: The Series is the latest remake of the life, and legacy of Selena Quintanilla, an American girl who became a household name for bringing Tejano music into the spotlight. Starring Christian Serratos in the title role, this series, developed by Netflix, is meant to introduce Selena, and her story to the next generation of fans. Divided into two parts, the first released on December 4th, 2020, Selena: The Series Part 1 attempts to portray the backstory of Selena’s rise to fame, documenting her family’s journey through financial hardships, formation of their band, and the beginnings of Selena’s love affair with her eventual husband Chris Perez.
Although Selena: The Series Part 1 does provide detailed background information regarding Selena’s initial interest, and development in music, the series does not focus on Selena, but instead, follows the lives of her family members, namely her father Abraham. Although her family had a major role in developing the woman that Selena came to be, she is the star, the one people tune in to see. Instead, viewers are left watching a story mostly about her father, how he was stopped from pursuing his own music career, and instead unleashes his dreams onto his children. For a story with her name in the title, Selena only makes sparse appearances, with fans left wondering how Selena feels, and acts in situations presented on screen.
For his part Abraham Quintanilla is portrayed as a “perfect” figure in his daughter’s life, the one who recognized her talent, connected her with her Mexican heritage, and is always there to provide the ideal advice to solve any challenge his daughter faces. His actions of removing Selena from high school, and abandoning Chris Perez at a deserted bus stop because he suspects Chris’ romantic feelings for his daughter; are justified as the actions of a concerned father, recognizing that his daughter has so much talent, that only he can know how to exemplify it.
For her presence Selena is not portrayed as the strong confident young woman her fans believe her to be, but instead, a scared, and emotional teenager, inexperienced with life, and love. She spends most of the series crying over her stage fright, lack of independence, and feelings for a developing crush. She is constantly coddled by her older sister Suzette, who for her effort, is portrayed as the doting, and knowledgeable sister, the female version of her father. Major life moments, notably Selena’s brother A.B.’s marriage, and journeys in fatherhood, are skipped over, in favor of more arguments between Abraham, and their record producer. The budding romance between Selena, and Chris is flat, and quick, leaving out the deep bond the two did share.
Selena Quintanilla was a Latino icon, showcasing the beauty of Mexican culture with her innovation of Tejano music. In a genre dominated by men, Selena shattered both cultural and gender barriers, becoming a pioneer of Latina entertainers. With her band “Selena y Los Dinos” Selena’s music soared to the top of music charts, earning her a Grammy, and stardom, all before she was 23. As her success in the Spanish music industry expanded, Selena ventured into other business avenues, becoming a trendsetter in fashion, and cosmetics. However, the foundation for her future successes is left out of this set of episodes, leaving an obvious disconnect between the woman fans heard on the radio, and the one portrayed to them on the silver screen.
Determined to honor their daughter, and sister’s memory, the Quintanilla family have made several attempts to preserve the legacy of Selena, revamping her albums, maintaining a museum in her native Texas, accepting a star in her honor on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and producing the 1997 film Selena, starring Jennifer Lopez. Although their desire to continue to honor Selena may have inspired their involvement in this project, the series has fallen short of showcasing the incredible performer so many people loved, and the incredible woman so many people believed they knew.
Selena: The Series Part 2 will premiere on Netflix on May 14th, which will bring the conclusion to Selena’s journey. The series will undoubtedly follow her elopement with Chris, the beginnings of her English crossover album, and her tragic murder at 23 by the manager of her fan club Yolanda Saldivar. Hopefully, Selena: The Series Part 2 will provide audiences with more of the Selena they all wish to see. With so many fans continuing to support her legacy there will be thousands of viewers who will tune in to watch the conclusion of Selena’s story in May.
Melanie Moyer '22,