When Selena: The Series was first announced, fans were elated that the story of the iconic Mexican-American singer would be on screen again. Before the series, the 1997 biopic Selena starring Jennifer Lopez was the only version of her story told on TV/film with the support of her family. Her dad Abraham Quintanilla and her sister Suzette Quintanilla also collaborated with Netflix on the series which initially gave fans hope that it would me a more thorough and honest portrayal of the beloved singer. However, when the trailer hit many took to Twitter to denounce the costumes, the acting, and the overall sense that it wasn’t up to par with the film or what Selena’s story deserved. Now, staff from the series are saying Netflix did not provide enough financial support to do her story justice, according to a new report from the Los Angeles Times by Yvonne Villareal.
Selena’s fame has continued to grow since her death in 1995 however from the start it seems the streaming giant did not invest in the series like it has some of its other acclaimed shows. The LA Times reported that according to multiple sources the series allotted $2 million per episode, as opposed to the award-winning series The Crown which reportedly gets $13 million per episode. Fans had been quick to criticize the costumes and wig choices, especially for some of her more iconic outfits.
"Latinos comprise more than 18% of the U.S. population but, despite the dramatic surge in the number of platforms and series, account for only 8.7% of TV writers, according to a 2020 Writers Guild of America study." @villarrealy https://t.co/mrXxBOO6UB
— Paloma Esquivel (@palomaesquivel) June 11, 2021
“The show sort of experienced what Selena experienced,” Henry Robles, who served as a co-executive producer on the series, said. “From the beginning, she wanted to sing in English. But people didn’t know what to do with her. The music industry didn’t know how to categorize [her] or they expected certain things of her because she was Mexican American. And it’s similar to this show.”
The series was ordered as a Latin American original because of the singer’s popularity in Mexico according to what a Netflix spokesperson told the publication. The show was filmed in Mexico and the writers claim they were not paid what their U.S. counterparts would’ve been paid. They also said they were overworked as they were expected to wrap up the 18 episode series in about 20 weeks, usually a timeframe for eight to 10 episodes according to the LA Times. Their schedule was eventually extended by four months.
Though Netflix said the decision to have it be a Latin American original series was because of her popularity in Mexico, the LA Times reported that half of the show’s audience came from the U.S., where it spent its first week at No. 1 spot. But it’s not like those results were necessary to indicate Selena has a large fanbase in the U.S. to this day with her passionate fanbase, celebrities like Becky G honoring her, and considering the massive commercial success of her makeup line with MAC.
Much like her fanbase eagerly anticipated the series, the writers — fans themselves — were driven to be a part of the series to pay homage to Selena. Showrunner Moisés Zamora calls the experience “a learning lesson.” “The fact that we were able to get 14 Latinx writers to take on this thing, with all the challenges we faced … my goal is to continue making the case that our stories are worth telling — they deserve as much as any other production,” he told the LA Times. “I’m really proud that we got to make an incredible show given what we were given.”