I haven’t watched a telenovela since I was in high school, but I feel the high drama, plot twists, and good girl vs. bad girl scenarios set a foundation for my incessant need for gossip and to solve everyone’s problems. There’s no doubt that every Mexican household would shut down in the evening hours to make time for hours of dramatic storytelling that always seemed to center around the rich girl who made the poor girl’s life a living hell and who ended up causing a downward spiral in the lives of everyone involved—all while being fashionable. It’s what we all yearned for during ‘novela time’ at our house. But once you’ve seen one soap opera where a brother accidentally falls in love with his half-sister who is also blind, you’ve seen them all--or have you?
Growing up in a novela household perpetuated the heteronormative expectations of relationships. I rarely saw a gay man portrayed and if there were he was the flamboyant hairdresser friend or the business associate—always suggestive never open about their sexuality. And drag queens or trans characters far less representation. It has been generations of the patriarchal Mexican/Latino construct that fears any type of fragile masculinity. We have not been prepared to discuss issues like coming out, same-sex marriage/adoption, transitioning, or even drag. Yes, as Latinos in the LGBTQ world we have made strides, but it has been a great struggle to arrive to common place where dialogue can occur about the queer experience.
I fantasize about a telenovela where the two protagonists are men who are in love and fighting adversities in their lives so they can be together—because that is REAL LIFE!
Okay, so whether you watch Spanish-language television or you don’t, I think you get what I am trying to say here. Queer representation in the media is still not where it needs to be.
But for novelas it seems that a new Netflix, La Casa de las Flores (The House of Flowers) is breaking down the boundaries and shattering the telenovela formula. The Spanish-language show revolves around an affluent family in Mexican high society whose lives begin to spiral out of control after a death occurs in the opening episode (no spoilers here).
The family’s matriarch, Virginia de la Mora, is played by Mexican telenovela royalty Verónica Castro (yes, she’s had work done, but she’s still fierce). Virginia’s character is a feisty business woman who has created an empire out of her family’s flower shop, for which the show gets its title. Upon first meeting Virginia you think she is a typical novela architype of the wealthy, judgmental mother who is trying to save face—but the more you learn about her and her family, the more you realize her redeeming qualities.
This show is progressive by Mexican novella standards. Each storyline is woven into one another. Without giving away too much, you'll learn about Virginia’s husband’s big secrets, her eldest daughter Paulina fighting for her place as the successor of the family’s empire while grappling with her ex-husband who is trans, her youngest daughter Elena stuck in a love triangle, and her son Julián who struggles with coming out of the closet and getting rid of his pretentious girlfriend to be with the family’s silver daddy financial advisor.
La Casa de las Flores is a binge-worthy story that is full of the story arcs, character development, scandals, deceit, treachery, humor, tears, sock puppets, and a whole lot of drag queens. Yes, did I mention that the flower shops counterpart is a cabaret nightclub also called La Casa de la Flores where nightly drag shows become a reality for the De la Mora family?
La Casa de las Flores is pivotal for modern-day Mexican television (and Netflix in general) as it demonstrates the direction our Latino narratives should be headed. We’ve suppressed much of who we are due to our Catholic guilt and inability to see past the superficiality of what other people will think of us. La Casa de las Flores is an experiment in this theory, breaking down each of the characters one by one to see if they will grow or wilt. The show’s dealings with the queer experience is refreshing and gives me a lot of the telenovela I always wished I could have watched as a kid. But finally, it’s here thanks to Netflix.
The show was created by Manolo Caro and stars Verónica Castro, Cecilia Suárez, Dario Yazbek Bernal, Aislinn Derbez, Juan Pablo Medina, and Lucas Velazquez. The standout performance is given by Cecilia Suárez as Paulina, in my opinion, whose accent in the show is a character of its own. But there is no shame in saying that the gay men may want to tune in just for lust between Dario Yazbek Bernal and Juan Pablo Medina. You’ll thank me later.
La Casa de las Flores is the show you should be watching on Netflix right now. If you don’t speak Spanish, the subtitles will be your best friend, just know that you some of the witty banter and jokes may not land—still you’ll be able to follow the story just fine. It was released on August 10th and due to its popularity, we may just be seeing another season. Grab yourself a drink and sit down for some modern-day ‘novela time’.
Here’s a trailer for La Casa de las Flores (House of Flowers):
This was created by one of our Contributing Writers and does not reflect the opinion of Instinct Magazine or the other Contributing Writers when it comes to this subject.