“Senorita 89” 1×01 & 1×02 Review: The Darkness Behind The Beauty

Senorita 89 image
Senorita 89 (Image: PR)

Señorita 89 is a thriller series involving a group of finalists being invited on a three-month workshop to help them reach the Miss Mexico pageant. Of course, secrets, danger, and politics abound.

I was provided with free screeners of the first two episodes of Señorita 89 for review. The opinions I have shared are my own.

Having watched the screeners, I would say that Señorita 89 is the type of show where things will get a lot worse for a bunch of characters before they (hopefully) start getting better. The premiere episode didn’t waste time showing the danger that the young women were in.

Taking place in Mexico in the late 1980s, Señorita 89 is about 32 finalists being invited to live at La Encantada. Over the course of three months, the women will undergo training sessions and glow-ups to reach the Miss Mexico pageant. The first two episodes focused on a handful of characters, allowing viewers to learn more about their backstories and how they found their way to La Encantada.

Along with the finalists, there’s another young woman named Elena (Ximena Romo). She’s there to learn more about what happens behind the scenes at such beauty pageants. Elena’s true goal is to do away with the beauty standards imposed on women. With the first episode focusing more on Elena, I got a good sense of her character after listening to her speech about what’s meant by deeming a woman beautiful and how it is defined by the male gaze.

I liked how Elena was able to get invited to the estate as a cultural or general knowledge teacher for the finalists, her job being helping them write their speeches and showcasing that they are more than just their looks.

As someone who had already made up her mind about the intelligence of beauty queens, I liked how Elena got called out by one of the contestants during class while going over the book Mrs. Dalloway. As the contestant put it, there’s nothing wrong with women wanting to look beautiful and appreciate pretty things. Women can be into hosting parties and wanting a family while still being ambitious in their career, etc. The point is that women should be allowed to choose what they want, and a more beauty-centric woman shouldn’t be considered less worthy than those who like to focus more on their careers or something different.

Señorita 89 is definitely a show about women trying to find their voice and identity in a world where they are nothing more than objects to be paraded around and eventually discarded. From kidnappings to sexual abuse and more, the themes showcased in the first episode, unfortunately, still resonate true. Written by Lucía Puenzo, María Renée Prudencio, and Tatiana Mereñuk, Señorita 89 has a lot to say about women dealing with an environment that’s out to get them.

When the finalists arrive at the estate, they are asked to sign a contract forbidding them from having any contact with the outside world. However, even then, some of them find a way to do what they want as they strive for a sense of independence.

There’s darkness everywhere the young women look. While living at the estate, run by Concepción (Ilse Salas), their bodies are being analyzed by her husband, who is all too eager to recommend plastic surgery to address physical “flaws”. Not only that, the second episode showed a handful of finalists being taken to a secluded location, where they were presented to a powerful politician. The scene made it clear that in certain instances, other women are responsible for young vulnerable women being put in a position to be preyed upon.

Though I found the first episode to be a bit slow, the second episode amped up the tension, culminating in a life-altering event for a handful of cast members, including Elena. I can’t wait to see what will happen next!

One of the things I really enjoyed about the first two episodes was how there was no ill will amongst the finalists (some of them falling on the queer spectrum). Due to the media’s track record when handling beautiful women vying for the same crown, you would think Señorita 89 would have a lot of catfights. But that wasn’t the case here. It was refreshing to see the finalists getting along with each other. There were other things for them to worry about.

Of course, jealousy and resentments might rear their ugly heads down the line, but still, I liked how such sentiments didn’t appear at the beginning of the story, allowing the characters to feel more fleshed out as individuals.

Also, shoutout to the theme song “Buena Suerte Muchacha” by Rubio. It is quite haunting and I loved seeing it played over the opening credits consisting of wilting flowers.

The first two episodes of Señorita 89 were made available on Pantaya on February 27, 2022. A new episode will be released weekly on Sunday. The entire first season (consisting of 8 episodes) will be ready to binge on April 10, 2022.

I say, go and give it a watch!

You can read my reviews of other queer-inclusive content available on Pantaya here.

Author: Farid-ul-Haq

Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.


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