The Creators Behind “La Flor Más Bella” Are Breaking the Mold

Netflix / Amanda Safa/Netflix

“La flor más bella/The Most Beautiful Flower” is Netflix’s latest teen series and in many ways, it seems like your typical coming-of-age story. The ten-part series follows underdog Mich as she sets out to conquer high school. But the show is clear from the very beginning that it’s distinct. It’s set in Mexico, told in Spanish, and targeted to anyone who’s ever felt different.

“Having a curvy, brunette, Mexican protagonist who embraces popular and folkloric traditions and customs, and who also knows she is fabulous and is proud to be all of that, representing so many, it’s the best revolution,” says show co-creator Michelle Rodríguez. “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 Campanario Entertainment’s co-founder Jaime Dávila, Netflix originally reached out wanting to do a YA show set in Mexico. So he tapped his network, who quickly nominated comedian Rodríguez. “She just made us laugh, which is already really the most important thing. And then secondly, everything she represented and everything she was saying was so powerful to us,” Dávila tells POPSUGAR. “It felt really powerful for our community – giving Latinos the opportunity to talk about certain issues that maybe they don’t talk about.” Those issues range from classism to body positivity, queer rights, and racism, adding up to a pretty different show than we’re used to seeing.

For Rodríguez, that difference is just her personal experience. “Sharing what I’ve learned along the way has always seemed to me like a great idea,” she explains. “And if doing so makes someone out there connect to me, to my story, and feel represented and motivated to keep going, then that’s an even greater incentive for me to do it.”

“This is a story about a young girl from Xochimilco – you can’t get 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 people, through the specificity of this young Mexican girl, also see themselves.” Asking audiences across the globe to see themselves in Mich’s specific circumstances feels like a big leap forward for Latina representation.

Take, for example, how “La flor más bella” portrays Mexico. For Rodríguez and Dávila, the bright, beautiful Mexico of the show is simply their truth. “Mexico is an enchanting place,” Rodríguez says. “When I started telling my story to the writer, Fernanda Eguiarte, she was fascinated by Xochimilco and the stories I lovingly told her of the place that raised me. Immediately, we decided that Xochimilco and Mexico would be important characters in this story. Showing a bright Mexico, where you can be who you are, is part of the invitation to feel proud of being who you are.”

“The Mexico you see in media of drug wars and violence nonstop, it’s just not true. The Mexico that we shot in ‘La flor más bella’ is the Mexico I know. It’s vibrant, it’s beautiful, it’s diverse, it’s complicated.”

For Dávila, it was also a political call. “Being a Mexican American meant, for me personally, being in Mexico a lot. And every time when I would come back, people would say ‘wow, what was it like? Was it really dangerous?’ And you’re like, ‘No, I was visiting my aunt’s. It’s a city, a normal city,'” he remembers. “The Mexico you see in media of drug wars and violence nonstop, it’s just not true. The Mexico that we shot in ‘La flor más bella’ is the Mexico I know. It’s vibrant, 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 primary antagonists are a group of white Mexicans at school. They’re the popular kids and the bullies – their light skin granting them all sorts of favors from their peers and their teachers. One of them also happens to be Mich’s cousin, Brenda, who antagonizes her prima nonstop. And even as the show sets up Brenda as the villain, it’s careful to complicate that. Brenda may wield her power cruelly at school but she’s stuck with a homelife that had her grow up too soon. Indeed, she’s jealous of Mich’s upbringing and her ability to love herself in spite of society’s standards.

“In Mexico, oftentimes, in your own family, you have different shades, you have different colors, and your family treats you differently as a result. I saw it in my own family.”

“In Mexico, oftentimes, in your own family, you have different shades, you have different colors, and your family treats you differently as a result. I saw it in my own family. I see it with my grandma, God bless her,” recounts Dávila. When it comes to Mexican representation in film, telenovelas, or even news anchors, the representation has historically been on the lighter side. But “La flor más bella” challenges that, decentering the blonde prima for the darker, heavier Mich.

“People are so often judged by a cover and I just think it’s such a mistake,” says Dávila. There’s a plot in the show where Mich, an amazing singer, and performer, wants the lead in the school musical. They’re doing a take on “Alice in Wonderland” and the teacher prefers the blond, slender Alice of the Disney cartoon.

Mich doesn’t let the drama teacher’s racist worldview stop her. With the help of her supporting friends, she asserts that she is Alice of Xochimilco and keeps at it. Yes, sometimes she gets frustrated -especially when her white boyfriend of a year still refuses to take their relationship public or when she appears invisible at school – even to the principal. But this is Mich’s story and she is determined to be the central character in her life, no matter what the world throws at her.

“She is not a victim nor is she a character who is there purely for comedic relief. Having such a character is healing, inspiring, and powerful for all of us who have never felt represented on screen before. Recognizing that we are fabulous is something that we are not taught at school and sometimes not at home either,” explains Rodríguez. “That is why it is so important that this Mich shows everyone how fabulous she is, so that all those who see themselves reflected in her, know there’s nothing to be uncomfortable about. This is your body, live your life!”

As a high schooler, Mich is figuring out who she is. But whether she’s grappling with how others perceive her body, her own sexuality, or the racial politics of Mexico – self-love remains. That’s really where the show finds its power. “People should feel better about themselves and just love themselves. Because that’s the secret . . . and it’s hard, right? It’s really hard. It’s really challenging in a world where you’re getting so many messages from media, from your own family,” Dávila attests.

“Ever since I was a little girl, I dreamed of being an artist and I thought that I could not be in the television, music, and theater industry, because I rarely saw women like me,” says Rodríguez, explaining how society’s expectations affected her growing up. “‘The Most Beautiful Flower” is the series that I would have liked to see as a child and adolescent, even now I am still letting the message this story conveys sink in. I hope the audience connects with the story and with Mich who knows how to celebrate differences and who believes that flaws can be superpowers.”

Mich’s self-love really does feel different from a coming-of-age heroine, and that’s before adding in how the show normalizes Mexico, or how it asks viewers to engage in complex conversations around race, class, and sexuality in Latin American society. It questions who is worthy of love and why. Taken all together, these elements set up a new type of representation. One, that as co-creator Rodríguez says, has the potential to be the best type of revolution.

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