“When I think about being on stage — you on the base, and Suzette on the drums, nothing else matters.”
“Como La Flor…” “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom…” There’s an immediate association that comes to mind when you hear these songs. No matter how small your knowledge is within the Tejano genre, there’s a good chance you know the name Selena. With Netflix’s newest original, Selena: The Series, it brings you a detailed look into the life of Selena Quintanilla and her way up to the top. However, the series falls short of a project that respectfully honors the singer that was gone too soon.
We’re introduced to Selena, a young girl from South Texas, growing up in a musical family with aspirations of becoming a great singer. Her beginnings aren’t smooth sailing as the family life consists of financial hardships and an overbearing “machismo” father. But nevertheless Selena, along with her siblings Suzette and A.B., and the rest of the band, push through the tough times to finally make it among the other Tejano greats.
A Selena story was told soon after her death in 1996’s Selena movie — introducing Jennifer Lopez to the masses. The film is concise covering the span of Selena’s life in roughly two hours. It’s an entertaining watch as it examines the low and the high points of her life. The series, however, is anything but to the point. Now before people rush to judge because of my apparent lack of being able to separate two different stories, I say, no… and yes. Selena was a vivacious young woman with a bigger than life persona that radiated a light whenever she performed. Christian Serratos, attempts to play the talented singer, but the performance is significantly off beat. Her appearance lacks that true Selena look — for which Lopez perfectly fit into. The biggest gripes won’t come from how the characters look. Those successes and failures come with the territory when trying to pigeonhole an actress into looking like a beloved real-life person. Those gripes come from the lack of care in creating this narrative that is sadly nowhere to be found.
A series so focused on the matter of singing, the lip-synching is embarrassing. During the music sequences — showing the band at their various concerts — Serratos has a hard time accentuating the lyrics. People who have experience filming musical scenes, or even music videos, will tell you that a person should quietly sing along with the tune in order to film a more authentic vocal scene. This — along with the scenes that show Selena and Suzette driving in a convertible with no wind blowing their hair — shows the absence of “quality assurance” that would have kept things like this from being in the final cut. For that, I blame the directors.
Selena: The Series is no doubt a rush job to coincide with the 25th anniversary of Selena’s death. And the quality of the finished product plays to the tune that this is a cash grab for Netflix, and nothing more. The details, and full story the series prides itself on telling, become drawn out and oversaturated. It goes too in-depth — revealing stories that are neither important or riveting. If you watch the official trailer for the series, you’ll find that the majority of the speaking doesn’t come from Selena. This series highlights the whole Quintanilla family, and often puts Selena in the background.
Many die-hard Selena fans will find themselves flocking to their televisions to catch their favorite singer brought to life once again, and who can fault these fans as they look back to a more enjoyable time. However, the series ultimately feels like a slap in the face, taking our beloved singer and putting her in an inadequately filmed series. Nothing stands out in this part of the series — making it pretty forgettable. Selena: The Series part two has finished filming, but Netflix has yet to announce its release date. If the definite kinks that plague this first half are sorted out, it may become a more interesting series come part two.
Selena: The Series Pt. 1
Starring: Christian Serratos, Gabriel Chavarria, Noemi Gonzalez, Seidy Lopez, and Ricardo Chavira