Selena Quintanilla was one of a kind. This bright star was taken before her time and her memory still leaves things feeling raw and emotional for those who followed her music and became fans of her work. As someone familiar with her music but not with her actual life, how accurate this retelling actually is remains to be seen. One thing’s for sure though, this one intends to include as much of the family alongside Selena as possible.
We begin part 1 episode 1 of Selena: The Series in Chicago, 1994. A crowd roars and applauds the arrival of our superstar singer, who watches the crowds outside her bus and writes a message to herself on the window. “Selena was here” is etched out, complete with a love heart.
Unsure whether she can proceed or not, Selena is having second thoughts. Thankfully her family convince her to carry on, reminding her that they’ll always have her back. Eventually Selena shows her face to floods of people who hold lighters in the air as she performs hit after hit.
We then cut back to 1971 in Lake Jackson, Texas. Little Selena Quintanilla is born to father Abraham and his wife Marcella, who head home after finding out the meaning to her name, which means Goddess of the Moon.
Time jumps forward to 1978 now as Selena’s singing prompts Abraham to head outside and notice his daughter has some serious talent. Given she’s only 8, she doesn’t quite nail the emotional gravitas of the song she’s singing and Abraham knows it. He tells her to copy him for the time being and then eventually it will make sense.
With Selena’s brother AB on guitar, Abraham decides they could start a band with Suzette begrudgingly forced into playing drums. Selena, of course, is the one singing centre-stage. From the kitchen, Marcella listens to the performance, swaying in the kitchen while cooking.
We then jump forward yet again to 1980 to Papagayos. The band perform, now called Southern Pearl, but Abraham is smart enough to know he’s out of place with the group and needs to be replaced. However, for now there’s more pressing matters to deal with.
The economy – and the US in particular – is about to hit a recession. The family are already struggling to bring people through the doors but this could be the final nail in the coffin to their dreams. A year later and those fears become reality.
Abraham and his family arrive at the Welfare Office but when Selena is spotted, he’s too embarrassed to collect food stamps until Marcella eventually convinces him to swallow his pride.
With the band out of sync later that day, he instead has the kids listen to various records and reminds Suzette that the drums are the heart of the band. With this weighing heavily over her, we cut forward to another gig – in a nursing home this time – as Southern Pearl adopt a new keyboardist called Rena Dearman and a guitarist in Rodney Pyeatt.
Unfortunately the residents are none too happy with their choice of song and they’re paid off early, forced to finish up and leave. To add insult to injury, the DJ who takes over has all the previously stoic residents up on their feet.
6 months pass and Selena bemoans her luck as they’re all uprooted to Corpus Christi for a fresh start. They’re moving back with their family and that sees them head to Uncle Hector’s place where things are pretty grim.
They’re all forced to sleep in one room but Abraham remains optimistic about the band’s prospects for the future. Specifically, he realizes Selena has serious talent and speaks to Hector about his big plans for the future.
Abraham continues to hustle for gigs, giving Selena a chance by playing at a big birthday party coming up. After making their own lights with peach tins, Selena performs and does a brilliant job as the singer. Only, Abraham wants to step it up gear and encourages his kids to listen to Spanish records instead. Given Selena is Mexican and English, she has a great opportunity to speak to both countries and bring them both together through her.
As we jump forward yet again, this time to 1986, we see the band has now changed to be called “Selena Y Los Dinos”
The Episode Review
Predictably, the soundtrack in this series gets off to a great start with a combination of English and Mexican songs. There’s a good effort here to add a lot of flair to this one. However, the first episode is quite rapid in the way it depicts its time jumps, making it difficult to really settle into one time period and soak in the sights and sounds.
The real world elements around the band’s early days, including the recession and family struggles, helps to give more weight to this story. I’d imagine as the series settles down a bit, so too will the characters depicted here in this eagerly awaited show.