Video: Selena: The Series (2020)

Selena: The Series releases part one of a two part series this Friday, December 4th on Netflix. The show stars Christian Serratos as the iconic tejano legend, Selena Quintinilla Perez. I’d like to thank Netflix for sending me the series in advance so I could provide you all with this review.

Part one of this series covers Selena’s life from childhood and playing small gigs in Corpus Christi to the point where Yolanda Saldívar is hired as the President of Selena’s fan club and Selena’s relationship with Chris Perez faces adversity. Although a release date for part two has not officially been announced I anticipate that it will be released in the Spring. If you do not know anything about Selena’s life this show will give you some interesting insight to the life of a small-town girl who accomplished much during her lifetime.

For long-term fans who wonder how this show stacks up to the classic 1997 film starring Jennifer Lopez you should think of that original film as the quick pop-up story book version of Selena’s life. There’s many events, such as Selena’s rise-to-fame that feel rather rushed in order to fit the singer’s whole story within that 2 hour film. This show features many of those same events and adds more details and depth, which I really found to be captivating. For example we are specifically shown at what point Selena dropped “y los Dinos” from her name and why this decision was made. Additionally, the show depicts the struggle the family experienced trying to produce an English album which was always one of Selena’s goals.

The character’s in Selena: The Series are great and speak volumes about Selena’s actual family- they have a unique story. This is a family who all decided to forsake living a normal life, packed up in a bus, and traveled because of their unified passion for music and for each other. That’s not something you see too often. 

Abraham Quintinilla, played by Texas-born Ricardo Chavira, has an extremely bold brazen personality, which is always fun to see. Despite his blunt personality, he is likable because you get the genuine sense that he has family’s well-being as his top priority. He is extremely confident in his family’s ability, pushes them arguably a bit too much, and has to remind himself to give praise when their group succeeds. Abraham is an achiever and despite whatever accomplishments the group makes is always focused on the next biggest goal that the band has.

The characters are great and are why this show is an enjoyable experience. As someone who likes intense thrillers and high-stakes, the drama is just decent. The struggle to make it in the music industry, the pressure of writing a hit single, the insecurity of not knowing how to speak Spanish well, and keeping relationships secret- these are all dramatic conflicts that I thought were fine but it was once again the characters, who are incredibly likable, that had me wanting to keep watching the series.

The show’s cinematography looks incredibly beautiful but does look like 2020 filmmaking. There’s no film grain and camera shots feature a limited depth of field (you get that pretty blurry background when you see a closeup of someone talking), something not commonly seen in film during the time the story takes place. I’m a bit conflicted because while I enjoyed the way the show looked I think it may have looked more authentic had it filmed with an older style that was used during its time. Conversely, people then may have complained that it looked old- so regardless of how you feel, be informed that you are getting a very glamorous looking picture and it seemed like a chunk was filmed in the Texas region, which I did appreciate.

Christian Serratos is a standout and I enjoyed her portrayal of Selena just as much as I enjoyed Jennifer Lopez in the 1997 film. Serratos is engagingly charming. Overall, the casting department alongside the costume, hair, and make-up departments did a great job at making Selena and her family look as close as they could have to how they looked in real life. Googling pictures of Selena during her rise to fame I do think

I’m conflicted on the music used in the show- not Selena’s performance music but the background music used throughout conversations. It’s extremely playful, campy, and maybe even silly. I think it's used to heighten humor- perhaps make moments be perceived funnier than they actually were (similar to how a canned laugh has this effect). It may actually indeed heighten the humor but several times I found it to be a little bit too noticeably distracting. Let me know what you all thought about this very emphatic playful music that was used.

Overall, I think Selena: The Series is going to be pleasing to long-term fans of the tejano artist. As a Corpus Christi native I was naturally curious to learn more about this iconic star. I can't quite say how those who are not already invested in Selena will respond to the show’s story since I admittingly already loved Selena and her family’s journey. 

Final Verdict:Beautiful portrait of an ambitious and unified family.