‘Selena: The Series’ offers nostalgia, inevitably falls short in other areas

Season one of “Selena: The Series,” the long-awaited drama show based on the life of the Queen of Tejano Music herself, Selena Quintanilla, has finally been released on Netflix as of Dec. 4. This series is yet another adaptation of Selena’s life that has been created and signed off by her family, along with the 1997 “Selena” film starring Jennifer Lopez.

The new series follows Selena and her family throughout their careers with their band, Selena y Los Dinos, and all of the ups and downs they faced, from living on food stamps to receiving accolades at the Tejano Music Awards.

But, an adaptation of a star’s life doesn’t come without worthy critiques, good and bad. Despite Selena still being a household name decades after her death, the series has received mixed reviews. Google reviews give it a mere 2.3 stars out of 1,539 ratings.


One popular theme that came up on online conversations of the series was whitewashing. Particularly, many fans weren’t happy with the casting of Christian Serratos, a half Italian half Mexican actress, portraying brown-skinned, Mexican-American Selena Quintanilla.

Personally, this was my gripe with the show since before it was released. I wasn’t excited to watch it knowing the casting of Selena was so lackluster and not representative of a South Texas woman. The Selena I remember from photos and interviews was browner and curvier than Serratos. This isn’t to say Serratos’ performance was bad, but the show could have done with better representation, especially with the show’s producer, Jaime Dávila, being from McAllen, Texas and lobbying for more Latinx representation in Hollywood.


Another problem fans had with the show was the unrealistic wigs used in the portrayal of Selena’s teenage years, when she frequently permed, dyed and cut her hair, something that her dad Abraham didn’t agree with in the series.

While I think these hairstyles were true to how Selena actually wore her hair in the 80’s, the wigs could have been made to look more natural. With such a high-budget production, and the series being an important story of a girl who is still adored and mourned to this day, the creators should have made sure their adaptation looked realistic instead of tacky. Letting the latter happen is simply an insult to Selena fans everywhere who wanted to enjoy the portrayal of a Tejano legend, not be distracted by the actors’ stiff and glossy hairdos.


Selena was born in Lake Jackson, Texas and later moved to Corpus Christi. Her early career was defined by performances in nearby South Texas cities such as Laredo and San Antonio, even crossing the border into Mexico to dazzle international fans with her Tejano melodies. But, many fans have pointed out that the show’s portrayal of South Texas is inaccurate to say the least.

One viewer from Brownsville, Texas, where Selena y Los Dinos drove through in the show to cross the border to Matamoros for a Johnny Canales performance, made fun of how the series portrayed Brownsville being surrounded by mountains.

“I live in Brownsville, where are these mountains that you speak of @selena_netflix?” she said.

Emily Baucum, a reporter from San Antonio, also pointed out the show’s inaccuracy in its portrayal of San Antonio.

“I’m adoring the new Selena Netflix series…but one thing irks me: several shots of the San Antonio skyline include the Grand Hyatt, which didn’t exist in the 80s/90s. But hopefully it helps attract people to our beautiful downtown!” she said.

You can say what you want about fans all wanting different things and everyone’s opinion being their own, but I think the series could have at least delivered on accuracy. The creators should have and could have tried harder to accurately portray the cities they talked about, especially due to the lack of representation these areas already experience.

Despite the moments where it completely misses, some parts of the series are quite endearing, such as the moment Abraham first heard Selena’s dazzling voice, all of the young girls Selena was inspiring throughout her career and every sweet scene with Selena and her older sister Suzette that conveyed how much the girls motivated and inspired each other throughout their often stressful career.

I also appreciated the casting of Mexico-born Seidy López as Selena’s mom, Marcella Quintanilla — who played Selena’s friend in the 1997 movie — as well as Julio Macias cast as the iconic Laredo singer Pete Astudillo.

In the end, you can’t create a show about South Texas’ most iconic performer and expect it not to be nitpicked in every way. South Texans are a special bunch, we know who we are and we take pride in our uniqueness. It may be difficult for the series to capture that, but at the end of the day it is a dramatization and nothing will compare to the life and charisma of our Tejano queen, may she Rest In Peace.