La Casa de las Flores is a telenovela made by Manolo Caro for Netflix. I just finished Season 1, which came out in August 2018 (there are two more seasons). It was my first telenovela, although it is often referred to as a "millennial telenovela", which is what it sounds like (think Jane the Virgin). I've often heard that watching telenovelas is a good way to improve your Spanish, and we've got a (fingers crossed) trip to Spain coming in October, so I went for this one. And it's an eyeopener.
La Casa de las Flores centers on an upper-middle class Mexican family, de la Mora, that owns a popular flower shop called "La Casa de las Flores" and a cabaret of the same name. Outwardly, the de la Moras are an exemplary family: patriarch and matriarch, two daughters and one son. Of course, the surface is deceiving. The father has a mistress of long standing ... they have a daughter who seems to be a pre-teen. The mother regularly smokes weed she grows herself. The eldest daughter was once married, and has a son ... her marriage ended when her ex came out as a trans woman. The younger daughter has been living in New York with her African-American fiancé. The youngest son is beginning to accept his bisexuality.
In the first minute of the show, the mistress hangs herself in the flower shop. It turns out she was doing shady things with the father's money, and he ends up in prison, setting in motion the plot for the first season.
La Casa de las Flores is a solid mixture of humor and emotion, all presented in the exaggerated manner of telenovelas. I did not recognize any of the actors. Verónica Castro, who plays the mother, is a major star in Mexico, as a singer and as a telenovela star, and her addition to the cast was a major coup for Caro. The emerging star, though, is Cecilia Suárez, who was in a couple of scenes in Sense8. It's silly to call her "emerging", of course ... she was in her late-40s when the series began, with a long, award-winning career in film. She is called the muse of Manolo Caro, appearing in nearly all of his works. She plays Paulina, the eldest daughter, and the performance of Suárez has led to the character becoming a cult figure. Paulina's speech patterns are impossible to forget once you've heard them. Wikipedia explains:
The character's languorous speech pattern, which is often slowed down even further to enunciate syllable by syllable, became popular among viewers, spawning the '#PaulinaDeLaMoraChallenge' on social media. In the challenge, fans upload videos where they imitate Paulina's voice, often with some of the character's lines. The challenge was started by Mexican actor Roberto Carlo, with the stars of Cable Girls being the first to take it up. When Netflix and Suárez responded with their own version of the challenge on Twitter, it became a trending event on the website, based on popularity and coverage; at this point, there were over 69,000 fan videos of the challenge. The response to the challenge is one of the only times that Suárez has spoken in Paulina's voice outside of the show. She initially said Netflix restricted her from using the voice, but clarified this as being "a suggestion" that she follows to not break the magic of the fiction. Scholar Paul Julian Smith has noted that videos of Paulina's memorable lines recorded from the show have been uploaded to the Internet by fans and received hundreds of thousands of views.
After watching an episode, I found myself imitating Paulina, even though I'd be speaking English and she spoke in Spanish.
I can't compare La Casa de las Flores to other telenovelas, since I haven't seen any of them. But I'm guessing the addictive quality of the show is shared with others in the genre. You never know what it going to happen next. Add to that the "millennial" trend, and I couldn't get enough of La Casa de las Flores.