The Biggest Differences Between Netflix's Selena Series and the Iconic 1997 Film

Dec 9 2020 - 1:05pm

We can't get enough of Netflix's Selena: The Series, so yeah, we're deep down the rabbit hole searching everything we can about her, the Quintanilla family, and all the "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom" singer's [1] hits. Even though the new series is pretty much in line with the original 1997 movie about the Tejano icon's life [2] there are major differences between them, too. The Quintanilla family executive produced both the film and the new series [3], but the new endeavor is miles away from the film in more ways than one. Curious to see how each project measures up to the other? Ahead, find all the differences between Selena: The Series and Selena the movie, and try not to binge the new show all in one day.

The Format Allows the Series to Tell the Story With More Depth

The series' format allows the script (along with the production timeline) to be much longer, allowing writer and executive producer Moisés Zamora to go much deeper into Selena's rags-to-riches story. Although the movie follows Selena from childhood to her meteoric rise to fame, the series goes into unexpected, intimate details about Selena's family life. One example? How Selena got her name: the woman giving birth next to Selena's parents at the hospital had a son, so "gave" them the name she wanted to give her own daughter. And the rest was history.

The Series Focuses More on the Family, Not Just Selena

The movie Selena is all about the late Mexican-American icon, setting family members like her sister Suzette, brother A.B. and father Abraham as backdrops to her incredible journey. Of course, they play a crucial part in the movie too, but the series focuses much more on the family's dynamics. As executive producers, the family worked with creator Zamora to make sure the story was as true to life as possible, even tearing up in the script room [4]. In the series, we see Suzette and A.B. come into their own as musicians in their own right, and their struggles within their personal relationships – details we never saw in the movie.

The Actress Who Portrays Selena in the Series Is of Mexican Descent

Another important difference between the new series and 1997 movie is that although both actresses portraying Selena have been Latina, Christian Serratos is specifically of Mexican-American descent. Although we will always remember Jennifer Lopez [5]'s role in the original movie as a game-changer for Latinas everywhere, it is fantastic that a Mexican-American woman is portraying the late Tejano star. In an interview with the New York Times, Serratos said, "I'm just so happy, as a Mexican-American woman [6], that I get to play a Mexican-American woman who opened the door for me."

The Series Dives Deeper Into the Quintanilla Family's Hardships

Another main difference between the series and movie is the amount of detail in portraying the Quintanilla family's initial economic hardships. The series makes the point to depict this element of their life as transparently as possible, such as when the family lost their home and restaurant. As the family considers moving into a warehouse-like shelter, stands in line for food stamps and even goes dumpster diving, it is clear that the Quintanillas went through extremely tough situations in their early days. This aspect of their life is not nearly as clear in the original film.

Some Iconic Scenes From the Movie Do Not Appear in the Series

Although the series does stay true to the movie in many ways, such as when Selena's father Abraham initially discovers her singing and begins to practice with her, there are many iconic scenes from the film we do not get in the series. Examples include when Abraham was shocked at Selena's bustier choice for one of her concerts, the famous "washing machine" dance, and husband Chris Perez's love of hot sauce.

The Series Was Made For a New Generation of Selena Fans

A main difference between the series and the movie is that this latest rendition was made for a new generation of Selena fans: an audience that might just be getting to know her now. Through the production, visuals, script, and story, it is obvious that the creators want to depict Selena's legacy for what it was: nothing short of incredible. The detailed portrayal of Selena's initial economic situation and her rise to the top is made even clearer in the series, just to show how astronomical the journey really was.

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