Netflix’s La Flor Más Bella isn’t your typical teen show +2023

La flor mas Bella del Ejido Temporada 1. Esmeralda Soto in La flor mas Bella del Ejido Temporada 1. Cr.  Amanda Safa/Netflix ©2022

La Flor Más Bella/The Most Beautiful Flower is Netflix’s latest teen series, and in many ways it seems like a typical coming-of-age story. The 10-part series follows the misfit Mich as she sets out to conquer the high school. But the show is clear from the start that it’s different. It’s set in Mexico, narrated in Spanish, and aimed at anyone who’s ever felt otherwise.

“To have a curvy brunette Mexican protagonist who is committed to popular and folkloric traditions and customs and who also knows that she is fabulous and proud to be all of them and to represent so many is the best revolution.” , according to show co-creator Michelle Rodriguez says. “La Flor Más Bella” is loosely based on her life growing up in Xochimilco, a neighborhood in Mexico City famous for its canals and colorful barges.

According to Executive Producer and Co-Founder of Campanario Entertainment Jaime Davila, Netflix originally wanted to do a YA show in Mexico. So he tapped into his network, which promptly nominated comedian Rodríguez. “She just made us laugh, which is the most important thing. And second, everything she represented and everything she said was so powerful to us,” Dávila tells POPSUGAR. “It has felt really powerful for our community – giving Latinos a chance to speak out about certain issues that they might not speak up about.” These issues range from classism to body positivity to queer rights and racism and all add up to one quite a different show than what we’re used to.

For Rodríguez, that difference is just their personal experience. “It always seemed like a great idea to share what I’ve learned along the way,” she explains. “And if that makes someone out there connect with me and my story and feel represented and motivated to keep going, then that gives me even more incentive to do it.”

“This is a story about a young girl from Xochimilco—I can’t be more specific than that,” says Dávila. “But I think we’ve all been underestimated, I think we’ve all felt misunderstood – that’s universal. And so I hope that through the specialness of this young Mexican girl, people will also see themselves.” Asking audiences around the world to see themselves in Mich’s specific circumstances feels like a giant leap for Latina representation at the front.

Take, for example, how “La Flor Más Bella” represents Mexico. For Rodríguez and Dávila, the show’s bright, beautiful Mexico is simply their truth. “Mexico is an enchanting place,” says Rodríguez. “When I started telling my story to writer Fernanda Eguiarte, she was fascinated by Xochimilco and the stories I lovingly told her about the place where I grew up. We immediately decided that Xochimilco and Mexico would be important characters in this story. Showing a happy Mexico where you can be who you are is part of the invitation to be proud of who you are.”

La flor mas Bella del Ejido Temporada 1. Esmeralda Soto in La flor mas Bella del Ejido Temporada 1. Cr.  Amanda Safa/Netflix ©2022

“The Mexico you see in the media of drug wars and non-stop violence is just not true. The Mexico we shot in ‘La Flor Más Bella’ is the Mexico I know. It’s alive, it’s beautiful, it’s diverse, it’s complicated.”

For Dávila, it was also a political call. “For me personally, being Mexican-American meant being in Mexico a lot. And every time I came back, people were like, ‘Wow, how was it? Was it really dangerous?’ And you say: ‘No, I was visiting my aunt. It’s a city, a normal city,’” he recalls. “The Mexico you see in the media of drug wars and non-stop violence is just not true. The Mexico we shot in ‘La Flor Más Bella’ is the Mexico I know. It’s alive, it’s beautiful, it’s diverse, it’s complicated.”

Part of that complication is race, class, and colorism — a difficult subject the show doesn’t shy away from. In fact, Mich’s main opponents are a group of white Mexicans at school. They are the popular kids and the bullies – their light skin grants them all sorts of favors from their peers and their teachers. One of them also happens to be Mich’s cousin Brenda, who opposes her prima non-stop. And even when the show casts Brenda as the villain, it’s careful about complicating that. Brenda may use her powers cruelly at school, but she’s stuck in a family life that made her grow up too early. In fact, she is jealous of Mich’s upbringing and her ability to love herself despite society’s standards.

“In Mexico, in your own family, you are often of different shades, you are of different colors, and therefore your family treats you differently. I’ve seen it in my own family.”

“In Mexico, in your own family, you’re often of different shades, you’re different colors, and your family treats you differently because of that. I’ve seen it in my own family. I see it in my grandma, God bless her,” Davila recounts. Historically, when it comes to Mexican film, telenovelas, or even newscasters, portrayal has tended to be on the lighter side. But “La Flor Más Bella” challenges that, decentering the blonde prima for the darker, heavier me.

“People are judged by a cover so often, and I just think it’s such a mistake,” says Dávila. There is a plot in the show where Mich, a great singer and performer, wants to star in the school musical. They’re doing a version of Alice in Wonderland, and the teacher prefers the blonde, slender Alice from the Disney cartoon.

La flor mas Bella del Ejido Temporada 1. Esmeralda Soto in La flor mas Bella del Ejido Temporada 1. Cr.  Amanda Safa/Netflix ©2022

I can’t be stopped by the acting teacher’s racist worldview. With the help of her supportive friends, she claims to be Alice from Xochimilco and sticks with it. Yes, she gets frustrated at times — especially when her white boyfriend of a year still refuses to make their relationship public, or when she appears invisible at school, even to the principal. But this is Mich’s story, and she’s determined to be the central figure in her life, no matter what the world throws at her.

“She’s not a victim, nor is she a character who’s just there for comedic relief. Having a character like that is healing, inspiring and powerful for all of us who have never felt represented on screen before. Realizing that we’re fabulous is something we’re not taught in school and sometimes at home,” explains Rodríguez. “That’s why it’s so important for this me to show everyone how fabulous she is, so that everyone who are reflected in it know that there is nothing unpleasant. This is your body, live your life!”

As a high school student, Mich finds out who she is. But whether she’s grappling with how others perceive her body, her own sexuality, or Mexico’s racial politics, self-love remains. This is really where the show finds its power. “People should feel better and just love each other. Because that’s the secret… and it’s hard, isn’t it? It’s really hard. It’s really challenging in a world where you get so much news from the media, from your own family,” confirms Dávila.

“Ever since I was a little girl, I dreamed of being an artist and I thought that I couldn’t work in television, music and theater because I rarely saw women like me,” Rodríguez explains the expectations of the Society influenced her growing up. “’The Most Beautiful Flower’ is the show I wanted to watch when I was a kid and I still carry the message of that story to this day. I hope audiences connect with the story and with me, who knows how to celebrate differences and who believes that mistakes can be superpowers.”

Mich’s self-love really feels different than a coming-of-age heroine, and that’s before she adds how the show normalizes Mexico or how she asks viewers to engage in complex conversations about race, class, and sexuality in Latin America to participate in society. The question arises as to who is lovable and why. Taken together, these elements form a new mode of representation. One that, as Rodríguez says, has the potential to be the best kind of revolution.

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