Yolanda Saldívar in upcoming docuseries on Oxygen

Yolanda Saldívar’s Upcoming Docuseries is Exploitative — & We Don’t Want It


Selena Quintanilla’s killer, Yolanda Saldívar, is set to appear in a new Oxygen docuseries just before her eligibility for parole. The docuseries will see Saldívar speaking from prison nearly 30 years after she murdered the Tejano star, continuing a disturbing trend of exploitation for a genre whose only reason for existing seems to be to glorify not just murder but the aftermath of it.

For Saldívar, however, this goes even further. If anything, one would say Yolanda Saldívar and true crime are made for each other. 

Yolanda Saldívar, a former nurse, was the President of Selena’s fan club and the manager of her boutiques. Shortly before her murder, the singer’s family discovered that Saldívar was allegedly embezzling money from both organizations. When Selena went to meet her at the Day Inn motel in Corpus Christi to retrieve some records related to the embezzling, Saldívar shot her in the back, leading to her death.

This is the kind of story true crime thrives on – a story of a woman who took advantage of her victim. And in many ways, that is still what Saldívar is doing, taking advantage of Selena, except now, she’s taking advantage of her memory. The two-part limited docuseries Selena & Yolanda: The Secrets Between Them promises Saldívar’s “interpretation of events,” among claims that everything wasn’t as it seemed. 

But even if there are still details the general public doesn’t know, the real question is: what is the point of revisiting Selena’s murder from Saldívar’s perspective almost thirty years later? Which is truly a question we should ask of the genre at large. What is the point of glorifying monsters, as true crime so often does? The excuse of understanding human nature has worn thin by now. We’re way past trying to dissect why evil people do bad things and have long crossed the line into idolizing them and disrespecting the suffering of their victims.

Yolanda Saldívar isn’t an interesting subject to be deconstructed. Neither was Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy. And by centering the perspective of the perpetrator, we risk losing sight of the things that were lost and the people who suffered — the victims and the families that had to pick up the pieces afterward and who don’t deserve to have their lives put on display and used as entertainment because the true crime genre needs to be fed.

There is some merit to the analysis of why bad people do bad things, but that shouldn’t be left to viewers at home watching this docuseries or showrunners in Hollywood but to actual professionals within the criminal justice field who solve these crimes. And true crime enthusiasts who eat up docuseries like this need to look inward as to why they are fascinated with stories like this in the first place instead of fiction.

Selena & Yolanda: The Secrets Between Them premieres with back-to-back episodes on Feb. 17 at 8 p.m. ET and concludes on Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. ET. Episodes will be available to stream on Peacock the day after they air. But if you ask fans of the singer, it’s best to avoid the series and remember Selena Quintanilla by honoring her music and her legacy and not by giving more attention to the woman who robbed us of both.