Selena’s Everlasting Legacy

When news first broke of Netflix producing an original series about Selena Quintanilla’s life, fans excitedly awaited details. Longtime admirers of the Tejano superstar anticipated who’d be cast to portray her, and when they could expect an official release date. Almost two years later, the wait is over. But was it worth it?

The December 4th series premiere was met with disappointment and subpar reviews from fans and TV critics alike. The number one gripe? The lack of resemblance between Selena and actor Christian Serratos (there was similar backlash when Jennifer Lopez was cast in the movie). Then there was the performance itself—the unfortunate dancing, mismatched lip syncing, the inconsistent Texas accent. And don’t even get me started on the absurdity of the wigs. There was also a pointed focus on the male figures in Selena’s life. Despite these blunders I’m hesitant to throw the whole production away.

As a diehard fan, I have to say I’m just happy to have gotten more insight into Sel’s brief but triumphant story. I, like many other devout fanatics, have always insatiably consumed any bit of credible, revelatory Selena media I could get my hands on. As cringey as the new series is, what’s most notable is the astonishing staying power of a young Latina woman’s legacy.  

It’s been nearly 26 years since her untimely death and Selena is still making waves in popular culture. Since her passing on March 31, 1995 the Lake Jackson, Texas-born singer and designer continues to reach a global audience with various posthumous collaborations. MAC launched a Selena makeup line, she received a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, and she’s been immortalized as a wax figure in Madame Tussauds. And that’s just in the last four years. 

“Selena: the Series” offers a deeper look into Selena’s challenging, lengthy road to stardom. In the first nine episodes the show narrows in on the family’s financial struggles and what life was like for a teenage Selena trying to balance a career, school, and social life. We also see her style evolution, musical growth, and the beginning of her foray into fashion design. We even get more insight into her siblings' lives.

Was there something unmistakably off about the casting? Yes. Christian Serratos’s iteration of our beloved queen could’ve come way harder. It gives major Christian-playing-JLo-playing-Selena energy, but like I said—I’m here for any Selena content that broadcasts her life to the masses.

Millennials have our 1997 feature film “Selena,” but what did younger generations have before this Netflix show? What will even younger people have twenty years from now? I imagine there will be more versions of scripted Selenas in the decades to come (I hope they’re better than what Netflix gave us). It’s a remarkable thing. It’s a testament to the power of Selena’s record-breaking career and genuine, charming character.

Selena’s legacy isn’t only about hard work and perseverance, it’s a story of family and community. It’s a classic narrative of the American dream, plus even more, and that will never go out of style. If there’s anything to be taken from this latest iteration of Selena’s incredible life, it’s the reminder that her accomplishments will be celebrated for generations to come.