the whiteness of netflix mexico

In a 2020 article for the Journal of Cinema and Media Studies, I argued that Netflix Mexico is a middle class platform in terms of access, content, and imagined audience. Stratified access to high-speed internet and prohibitive hardware costs means that only the middle- and upper-middle-class can afford to engage with the platform. Critics engagement with Netflix content tends to treat it as part of the “quality television” discourse, in contradistinction to the lesser-valued content on national broadcast networks. Netflix itself has played into these different class connotations in the past, such as when the platform sought to distance itself from Televisa’s streaming platform Blim by making fun of telenovelas. The platform’s class dynamics inflect its original programming decisions within the country.

The Whiteness of Netflix Mexico explores how understanding the streaming platform as a white and middle class has further implications for understanding its cultural work around the world. Scholars and fans have pointed out that white affluent protagonists have long been a staple of Mexican television giants Televisa and TV Azteca. Netflix Mexico, however, addresses an international, multilingual audience with its content. La Casa de las Flores may be a retread of the “new Mexican telenovela” of the 1990s, but the soundtrack and casting choices betray its aspirations to appeal to audiences in Zurich and Seoul alike.

This project consists of a series of video essays exploring several of Netflix Mexico’s original TV shows and films. The key is to illustrate that “whiteness” operates in these productions not only as a visual marker of race but as a narrative strategy that elevates certain “cosmopolitan” voices and concerns as representative of the nation for the world, often at the expense of disenfranchised ones.