Warning: There are spoilers for Selena: The Series ahead.
While the Jennifer Lopez movie will never leave our hearts, Netflix's Selena: The Series is a pretty official biography of the beloved singer: It's got the seal of approval of Selena Quintanilla's sister Suzette Quintanilla, who was one of the executive producers. The name of the game in this retelling, it seems, is accuracy. "This series is not the movie [starring Jennifer Lopez], it's more," Suzette wrote on Instagram. "It's all about our life and the grind to get there when it seemed unattainable."
Still, it's a dramatisation, not a documentary, and some changes had to be made to help the story flow over the first nine episodes. Fans who grew up with Selena probably spotted the storyline changeups — like how in the show Selena dropped out of school at 15 to pursue music when in real life she was in eighth grade (year nine). (In both instances, she did earn her high school diploma.)
According to the 1996 biography Selena: Como La Flor, the show also differed at a couple of other points. In the series, Selena doesn't like the skirt and crop top she was given to wear for her debut album cover shoot. But author Joe Nick Patoski reported that Selena had chosen the outfit herself, it was just her father Abraham Quintanilla who didn't approve of the midriff-baring top. Additionally, it was actually Yolanda Saldivar who approached Abraham asking to set up a fan club for Selena. In the show, Abraham decides to form a fan club at the record label's request, and Suzette hires an eager Saldivar. (The first season ends in 1991, so Saldivar's transformation from fan club founder to Selena's eventual killer will have to be explored in season 2.)
But one of the places where the show most deviates from real life is regarding Selena's relationship with band guitarist Chris Perez. The show depicts Abraham kicking Chris out of the band after seeing the musician and Selena getting too close on the bus. That's not exactly how it went down. The show omitted two instances in 1991 in which Perez got in trouble with the law. He was arrested for driving under the influence and also got caught up in a drunken hotel room trashing incident, as Perez wrote in his book To Selena, With Love. After that, Selena actually briefly broke up with Perez. He recalled Selena shouting, "We're over! I don’t want to be with anybody like this. I can’t believe you! How could you let yourself drink so much and let things get out of control like that?'"
The two ended up getting back together, but their romance was threatened when Abraham found out about its existence. Perez wrote that it was actually Suzette who revealed their secret to her father, and Perez didn't get kicked off the bus so much as he chose to go. Abraham threatened to break up the whole band after learning of Selena's secret romance, and Perez was over it. "In the middle of the argument, just like that, I said, 'I'm out of here. Screw this. I'll find my own way home. I don't want to ride in [this bus] anyway," Perez wrote.
But even with some of these changes, the heart of the story, and many of the details are very accurate to Selena's real life. Selena's own vocals are used in all the performance scenes, and all the costumes are replicas of Selena's iconic wardrobe. That's the benefit of having Selena's sister work so closely on the project — personal knowledge of all the details. Well, most of them anyway.