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Season two of Netflix's "Selena" series continues its exploration of the late Tejano singer's life.
But instead of centering Selena, the show focuses on her relationships with the men in her life.
Ultimately, season two enforces age-old stereotypes of Latinx women and gender roles.
By now, the details of Selena Quintanilla's brilliant career and untimely death are well-known by devotees and casual fans alike.
Born and raised in Texas, the young Quintanilla rose to fame as part of her family's band Selena y Los Dinos, and her albums went on to top the Latin and pop charts - eventually earning her the title "Queen of Tejano music."
Her tragic death at age 23, at the hands of her former fan-club manager Yolanda Saldívar, has come to define her legacy. But Netflix's "Selena: the Series" spends most of its time exploring the early life and career of Quintanilla, who has become one of the most celebrated Mexican-American artists of all time.
While the series is presented as an in-depth, no holds barred look at Quintanilla's daily reality, the second season, which premiered on Tuesday, doesn't give the late Quintanilla a voice. Instead, her story is told primarily through her relationships with men: her father Abraham; her fiancé (and later husband) Chris Pérez; and her brother, AB.
Ultimately, the second season of "Selena: the Series" falls prey to the same myth of machismo and gender stereotypes that has plagued Latinx culture for decades.
On 'Selena: The Series,' men are central to the story, while female characters take a back seat
Selena's father and brother are portrayed on the show as an essential part of her success.
In season one, Abraham, himself a former musician, is shown teaching his children (AB, Suzette, and Selena) about music - but Selena is the only one who's truly captivated by it.
When the children get older, Abraham grows more and more demanding, taking the children on tour, pulling them out of school, and urging them to focus entirely on their careers in Selena y Los Dinos.
This theme continues into season two, which follows the grown-up Quintanilla siblings as they inch towards superstardom. Abraham's often unreasonable demands take center stage, where he repeatedly forces Selena to choose between a "normal" life with friends and romantic interests or a career as a successful Tejano singer.
One clear example of this is in Abraham's reaction to Selena's relationship with her future husband, Chris Pérez.
In season one, Abraham discovers that Selena and Pérez, the guitarist for Los Dinos, have been pursuing a secret relationship while the band is on tour. He immediately kicks Pérez off of the bus, despite a distraught Selena begging him not to.
Selena and Pérez go on to continue their relationship in secret in season two, even going so far as to elope at a courthouse rather than face the wrath of Abraham once again. When they later break the news to Abraham, he tells Selena that he was simply worried about the effect her relationship would have on her career - and was more protective of her since she's the youngest in the family.
Later, after Selena and Pérez have gotten married, Abraham encourages them to take the house next door, despite Selena expressing her desire to find a home of her own with her new husband. He's also unsupportive of Selena's dream to open a salon and boutique, dismissing it as a distraction.
Abraham's intense control over Selena and the rest of the family, it's suggested, is simply due to his ambitions for Selena and his protective nature - a hallmark of the stereotypical Latinx father. For the show to normalize such behavior, under the guise of paternal tendencies, is disappointing, especially for Latinx viewers looking for more nuanced portrayals of Mexican-American characters.
And while Selena's brother AB, who wrote many of her hits including, "Como la flor," isn't shown to be as controlling as their father, he still enforces gender roles at times - for example, leaving his young wife to care for their children at home while he spends hours at the studio. In the series, he is generally portrayed as Selena's protector, not her collaborator.
The real-life Abraham was no doubt an important part of Selena's life, as was AB. But on both seasons of the show, the larger-than-life personalities of the two men dominate the storylines, while the Quintanilla women - including Selena and her mother, Marcella - lack the strong convictions of Abraham and AB.
Even sister Suzette, whose portrayal on the show inches dangerously close to the "sassy Latina" stereotype, doesn't have much to say, even in moments of conflict.
The Quintanilla family was heavily involved in the Netflix series
In an interview with Insider last year, "Selena" showrunner Moisés Zamora said that the Quintanilla family was "very involved" with the new series. Suzette Quintanilla is even listed as an executive producer on the show.
It makes sense that Selena's surviving family members would want to make sure she's properly portrayed on screen. After all, part of the reason why the "Selena" movie was made so soon after the singer's death, according to the family, was so that they could set the record straight.
But the family hasn't been open to others sharing stories of Selena. Abraham famously filed a lawsuit against Pérez after he attempted to develop a TV series of his own, based on his memoir about his relationship the singer, called "To Selena, With Love."
The Netflix series, then, comes across as the family's attempt to gatekeep Selena's image and legacy. But instead of giving her a voice, she's shunted to the sidelines - leaving the story to be told through Selena's experiences with the men in her life.
"Selena: the Series" implies, intentionally or not, that the success of the "Queen of Tejano music" was mostly due to the tireless work of her father and brother, not Selena's own talents or desires. The problem with this interpretation is that Selena isn't around to share her own experiences with the men in her family.
By focusing on the Quintanilla men, instead of the numerous women also involved in Selena's success, the show uplifts stereotypes that many Latinx viewers are already familiar with: men are powerful, smart, and deserve to be in charge.
But if viewers can take away anything from Selena's story, it's that she was able to thrive - and enjoy a successful career and fulfilling relationship - in spite of the machismo present in her life, not because of it.
Read the original article on Insider