‘Mariposa de Barrio’ follows life and legacy of Jenni Rivera


Photo provided by Alina Gutierrez

Sophomore Alina Gutierrez watches Mariposa de Barrio on Netflix in her room. She learns about Jenni Rivera, the person behind the artist she grew up listening to.

Salma Abuzaher, Reporter

From a suicidal teen to an abused wife, Mexican-American singer Jenni Rivera rose to fame and is known today as a legend in Regional Mexican music and an influential artist for many Mexican-Americans.

Mariposa de Barrio, which translates to “neighborhood butterfly,” is a show on Netflix that follows the life of Dolores Janney Rivera Saavedra, better known as Jenni Rivera. The series reveals the struggles Rivera faced on her path towards becoming one of the most significant female Mexican regional artists, with many of her albums reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Top Latin Albums of the 2010s.

The 91 episodes were released on Netflix in December 2020 and since then has marked its place as one of the most-watched shows in 2021. According to Forbes, it is the fifth-most popular show on Netflix this year so far and has made 35 appearances on the daily charts as of Feb. 10.

Junior Rosa Munoz said she believes the reason for the success of the show is partly due to TikTok.

 “I think the show became very popular because Jenni had many fans, and the show was all over TikTok which encouraged many teens to watch it, one of those teens being me,” Munoz said.

 Sophomore Alina Gutierrez cited the reason for the show’s popularity as the trend it follows.

 “I think it got popular because Spanish music and culture is more trendy now in the U.S. and Jenni was such a legend, but younger people like me don’t know her story,” Gutierrez said.

Because Jenni Rivera was mainstream over a decade ago, before her death, the younger generation isn’t familiar with her background, which Mariposa de Barrio informs viewers on. 

“Before watching, I didn’t know much about her, I just recognized her songs from my childhood,” Gutierrez said. 

Similarly, Munoz was clueless about Jenni’s life before watching the show. 

“Honestly I wasn’t a huge fan, but my sister was, so we would always listen to her music and that’s all I really knew about Jenni,” Munoz said. 

That all changed after watching the series. 

Munoz said the show made her better understand who Rivera was. 

“Mariposa de Barrio gave me a deeper perspective on who she was which made me realize my sister’s obsession with her,” Munoz said. 

After watching the show, Gutierrez also began to understand Jenni’s legacy. 

“I love how the show portrayed the very strong Latina woman she was and the legacy she left behind,” Gutierrez said. “She really represented someone who stands up and out for all women and I’m glad the show allowed me to see that.”

While the show represented Jenni’s lifestyle and family accurately, Munoz said the actress herself could’ve looked more similar to the artist. 

“My favorite thing about the show was her attitude. Also the way they described her and her recklessness,” Munoz said. “The family was portrayed good but the actress who represented Jenni could’ve been someone else who looks more like her.”

Additionally, Munoz said the show provided her not only with an interesting storyline but with life lessons.

 “The show taught me that no matter what, do what your heart desires,” Munoz said. “For example, her heart said music. She gave up for a while but went back to it later on and it went well, she did great.” 

Gutierrez similarly said the show taught her family was everything. 

“I learned that family will always be there for you and even though there are a lot of people you can’t trust, your family will always support you,” Gutierrez said. 

Also, Munoz said she has earned respect for Jenni after watching. 

“Jenni literally represents a really strong woman who made it through many things, raised her kids by herself, became successful, and had a good relationship with her family and was a good mother and loved all her fans,” Munoz said.

Jenni Rivera broke barriers for women in a male-dominated genre of music and now rests as an irreplaceable legend. Gutierrez is inspired by who Rivera was and how she did it, as she saw through the show.

“It was really amazing to see how strong Jenni was and how influential she was in the music industry as a woman,” Gutierrez said. “This show was really great at showing the legacy she left behind and I’m glad I could learn about Jenni, behind the music she made that I grew up listening to.”