The first episode of "Selena: The Series" premiered on Dec. 4, 2020, retelling the life story of Selena Quintanilla, the Queen of Tejano music. The Netflix series highlights Selena's fame and image, but also tells the untold story of Selena's inner circle, giving light to her father and the rest of her family.
After the overwhelming success and popularity of the 1997 movie, "Selena", viewers had high expectations for the new series, and, though it earned mixed reviews, the show grew Selena's legacy even further.
"Selena: The Series" shows viewers Selena's legacy is not only rooted in her music but through her impact on the Latinx community. Throughout the 18 episodes, viewers learn more about her life and why Selena's impact remains long-lasting.
The Latinx culture, in particular, places a large importance on family. Latinx families, including extended family, are most often extremely close-knit. Most Latinx people work hard for the pride of their families and continue to stay loyal to the people who raised them. According to a 2020 project study survey, it was found that six in 10 Latinx individuals would prefer to have a big family over a big group of friends.
Selena valued her family deeply, and, throughout all her successes, never forgot her humble beginnings. In our present society, when it can be hard to see celebrities as real humans with families and troubles, Selena's humble nature inspires audiences, allowing viewers to relate to her on a new, more personal level.
The Netflix series shows viewers that Selena's career was a family effort. The series portrays how Selena’s father, Abraham Quintanilla Jr., formed Selena y Los Dinos, the Quintanilla family band. Additionally, Selena's courage is illustrated through the start of her career as the series highlights how hard she worked for her family and their band.
"Selena: The Series" also takes viewers through the evolution of Selena's fashion, showcasing the confidence that makes up Selena's unique style. According to a 2016 study, as many as 20% of Latinas from the ages of 12 to 30 struggle with their body image. Selena encouraged Latinas to be confident in their bodies and broke stereotypes of what a "pretty" woman was supposed to look like. When she was on stage, she wore what made her confident and happy.
Looking at Selena's legacy, Sarah Contreras, an education alumna, says Selena broke barriers that Latina women faced, opening the door for other Latina artists and women in general.
"To me, Selena is an icon because she gave Mexican women confidence," Contreras says.
One of her most iconic moments was in 1989 during her performance of "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough/When I Think of You". She started the performance off wearing a black and white jacket. Then, during her dance break, she took the jacket off to reveal a black bustier, yet another staple of her legacy on Latinx fashion that was recreated for the Netflix series.
Julia Maldonado, a political science junior, says one of the reasons she believes Selena remains so iconic is because she continues to be loved and embraced by her fan base even 26 years after her death.
"When I think of her and her story, it reminds me of many other Mexicans in the United States who have to work so hard to be successful," Maldonado says. "It makes me appreciate Selena and her talent so much more."
Even in death, Selena continues to prove that women, especially Latinas, can accomplish anything. In 1994, Selena made history as the first female Tejano artist to win a Grammy Award for the Best Mexican American Album. After her death in 1995, Selena was also the first Latin artist to debut number one on the Billboard 200 chart with her crossover album, "Dreaming of You".
The Tejano genre, at the time, was not very mainstream across the country, and yet Selena broke barriers. She overcame the struggles of being a Latina woman working in a male and machismo-driven industry, and, on top of that, she now serves as a symbol of women's hard work and passion.
Another way Selena deeply connects with the Latinx community is because she, like some Latinx people living in the U.S., was a Mexican American who did not speak Spanish. It wasn't until she started singing in Spanish that she learned the language.
For some Mexicans and Latinos, not being fluent in Spanish or their native language can cause an identity crisis. It can restrict them from communicating with people within their culture and with family members who speak Spanish or another native language.
However, Selena showed she was always proud of her heritage and her roots. She made efforts to further connect with her culture and community, despite any language barriers.
This is a situation some Mexicans in the U.S. can relate to. It was recently discovered that with each generation, the number of people who are fluent in Spanish decreases. One of the main reasons for this is because older generations are refraining from teaching their children Spanish in fear of being negatively racialized.
"Selena: The Series" was watched by 25 million households within the first 28 days of the season one release. In 23 countries, the series also made it onto Netflix's top 10 list in countries such as Mexico, the U.S., Peru, Colombia and Argentina.
Selena was the first celebrity some people could relate to on an intimate level. Through this series, Selena's legacy continues as her impact lives on and runs deep within the foundations of Latinx culture.
- Nadia Gonzales is a public relations senior
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