I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.
Preston Barta // Features Editor
SELENA: THE SERIES
Rated TV-PG, about 333 minutes (across nine episodes).
Creator: Moisés Zamora
Cast: Christian Serratos, Ricardo Chavira, Gabriel Chavarria, Noemi Gonzalez, Seidy Lopez, Jesse Posey, and Madison Taylor Baez
If you grew up in the 1990s, it’s very likely that you also grew up with the music of Selena Quintanilla-Pérez or the 1997 movie about her life starring Jennifer Lopez. For me, it was both. I loved the film as a kid and just found Selena’s spirit to be so infectious. Not to mention how catchy her tunes are.
When Netflix announced that it would be making a television series about her life – taking the 1997 acoustic version of her story and filling it out to make an orchestrated take – I immediately got excited by a new generation getting to learn about one of the greatest Latinx icons in history. The first trailer pulled me in with familiar beats and the promise of something unique.
Unfortunately, it’s not far into the nine-episode series, simply titled Selena: The Series, that it dons the most basic shape. Despite all its glitz and glamour, this series is about an uninteresting as a biographical musical drama about someone’s rise to fame as I have ever seen.
Considering the movie was made just two years after the music queen’s death, this was a grand opportunity for Netflix and its showrunners to truly break into so many different aspects of Selena’s life. This includes focusing on the growing U.S. Latin music industry, a deeper look into Selena’s music, and the challenges that she and her family faced. It’s all lightly touched in favor of supplying biopic clichés, on-the-nose messages, and portrayals that feel anything but human.
Where is the tension? Where are the stakes? Everything is so frustratingly flat and reads more like an outline than a cinematic drama that provides authentic characters. No complexity at all — they barely qualify as people. You can get more from Selena’s Wikipedia page.
This series debut only marks the first half of Selena’s story, chronicling her childhood to the 1990 release of her second album, Ven Conmigo. Apparently, the second and final part has wrapped production, with no release date announced yet. I have little faith the show’s purpose will finally come into play then. But here’s to hoping for something better because right now, it’s incredibly disappointing.
SELENA: THE SERIES – PART 1 is now available to stream on Netflix.