From the very first scenes of La Casa De Las Flores (The House of Flowers), viewers are invited into the vast, colourful and deceptively beautiful world of the De La Moras family.
Moments before, Roberta Navarro, the family patriarch’s long-time mistress, manages to drag every dirty secret the seemingly perfect, upper-class Mexican family has been hiding to the surface in one fell swoop.
For English-speaking audiences, imagine a fresher, wittier version of Desperate Housewives that follows a small family dynasty built on top of a thriving flower business and a not-so-thriving cabaret.
From there, the (2018) Netflix Series becomes deliciously telenovela. There are scandals, dark secrets, convoluted plot threads to untangle and a ridiculous amount of philandering to keep things moving.
The series has a lot of things going for it, from an excellent cast of talented Mexican actors and actresses to outrageously can’t-look-away plot developments.
But today, I wanted to explore one of the most striking aspects of the show. The beautiful oil paintings that dominate the opening credit sequences.
the opening credits
The opening credit sequence for La Casa De Las Flores is a striking introduction to the series that manages to set the tone for the entire show through the effective use of beauty, humour and symbolic imagery.
The colours used underline the De La Mora family’s vibrant, often chaotic lives. While the surreal imagery—flowers being arranged, portraits being taken—speaks to a sense of magical realism unique to the genre.
Beauty, fragility and hints to the show’s themes of secrets and hidden truths are on full display, allowing audience members to glean critical insights about the family members as the series progresses.
Naturally, I couldn’t help wondering where these incredible portraits that play alongside the show’s opening theme, La Flor De La Canela, came from.
The Artist Behind The Artwork
Roberta Loibera‘s ‘Portrait of a Normal Family’ was originally commissioned as a set decoration. However, upon completion, the production team behind La Casa de Las Flores decided to call in Diecinueve36 to bring it to life digitally.
The result is an intro credits sequence for the show’s first season that manages to be both haunting and beautiful. And a style later seasons would continue to employ all the way up until the end of season three and the final conclusion of the shows intricate storyline.
Roberta’s work has become an integral part of the show, lending it a healthy dose of recognizability. Not only is her style of magical surrealism unique, but it also helps to summarize and reinforce several of the themes explored within the show.
Specifically, the roles of the De La Mora family members and how their outward appearances contradict their internal struggles.
At three metres by two, Roberta Loibera’s ‘Portrait of a Normal Family’ is imposing. It lords over the De La Mora Family in the same way La Reina herself, Virgina, imposes her vision of the perfect family on them.
The show tackles various themes, from complex family dynamics to identity, class, sexuality and societal expectations with a unique blend of dark-comedy and melodrama perfectly encapsulated by the artwork that’s become synonymous with it.
Each family member is represented here with symbols that allude to their place within the family and the underlying motivations that rule them.
Paulina is cool, reserved, and as the one sibling most concerned with maintaining and protecting the family’s secrets, she bleeds blue.
Elena is sweet but selfish and somewhat removed from her family’s struggles.
Julian is split between two different lives he is trying to lead but wears his heart on his sleeve in a way most of the De La Mora’s do not.
And of course, Ernesto is a bird in a cage himself, trapped by the thorny tendrils of Virgina’s all-encompassing vengeance.
In the later seasons, these symbols change and develop along with the family.
The later portraits also help to introduce an ever-revolving cast of characters. But, its first moments are a significant part of what has helped cement the iconic members of the De La Mora family in the hearts and minds of its viewers.
Mexican filmmaker and show creator Manolo Caro’s intentional and often subversive inclusion of LGBTQ+ storylines and characters within the show has significantly impacted the acceptance and visibility of gender and sexual minorities within Mexican media.
And, it’s yet another stunning example of Mexican filmmaking created exclusively for a Netflix audience. It would be inaccurate to pretend this aspect of the creator’s vision plays no role in the final product.
La Casa De Las Flores is many things—a comedic melodrama, a commentary on class and social status and an homage that seeks to reinvent the conventions of Mexican film and television.
It uses aspects of drag culture as a vehicle to explore themes of identity, acceptance and transformation. And it does it all with the wit and humour of a tongue-in-cheek Mary Alice Young.
Still, there is something so impressive about the moment viewers first lay eyes on Roberta Loibera’s beautiful artwork. It’s an aspect of the show that manages to deliver over and over again for three whole seasons.