‘Selena: The Series,’ A Loose Claim to the Latinx Concept

Selena Netflix BeLatina Latinx
Photo courtesy of screenrant.com

Selena: The Series comes to the market after the success of other productions seeking to tell the story of great music idols like Luis Miguel and Jose José. Unlike the two previous ones, the series created by showrunners Moises Zamora and Jaime Davila of Campanario Entertainment bets on the United States’ bilingual Latinx audience.

While the series could’ve been much better, Selena: The Series has several points in its favor, like its effort to understand the Latino identity in the United States.

The show demonstrates the rich hybridity of the second generation Latinos in the U.S. and also focuses on the importance of the Spanish language within the territory and the treasure of it, along with the visibility of the actors who play the Quintanilla family.

Calling on viewers to avoid comparing the series to the 1997 film directed by Gregory Nava, and where Jennifer Lopez made her leap to fame, Variety magazine describes this Netflix production as a celebration and “recognition of the struggle Latinos face to thrive in the entertainment industry,” a struggle that is made a little more manageable by the efforts of a talented young woman from Corpus Christi who used her powerful voice and radiant spirit to achieve stardom.

From the actress who plays Selena, Christian Serratos, of Mexican descent, to Gabriel Chavarría of Honduran descent, who plays the singer’s brother, to Seidy López, a Mexican actress, and director who plays Selena’s mother in the series and also acted in the 1997 film, almost all of the actors in the production have a direct link to Latin America. 

The actors in the Netflix production reflect how the show has made them more visible, especially Serratos, who already has several productions to his credit.

A star and a border

The history of the Quintanilla family could be that of many Latino families in the United States. However, a project was born from that hard-working family. That household forged a woman’s character and transformed her into a multi-generational, cross-border, bilingual icon.

Selena, Queen of Tex-Mex music, has been admired for more than 20 years, as it often happens with those who leave us too soon. 

Selena’s career embodied travel, migration, and the southern border. In the first part of the series, you can see how her tours are not in the big American stadiums but in places where Latinos have settled. She brought to life the concept of a binational identity. 

She learns to sing in Spanish but also wants to sing in English. She wanted to imitate the divas of the moment like Madonna or Whitney Houston while doing so with a Tex-Mex touch. 

Unfortunately, after three representations of Selena, her biopic still does not do justice to her figure. Selena: The Series flattens her figure; she is a docile and submissive woman before her father figure. She is little more than a daughter who serves the realization of a frustrated father, suffering from full-blown daddy issues, especially when they try to make her look like a woman filled with desires and love life of her own.

However, the character flattens out along with the rest by not deciding on her life, her record contracts, the language in which she sings. 

Selena’s legend survives the human being behind the name; the myth is still famous after 25 years, while Selena died at age 24. 

However, after so many stories, the collective struggle for visibility, and the still-ongoing fight for the rights of women and Latinas, it’s frustrating to see how the version of Selena’s story told in 2020 is exactly the same as the one in 1997 even lighter and more simplified. 

The question for the producers and creators of Netflix is as simple as Selena’s character in the series: Are there really no other nuances for Latina women?