Vida: Season 1/ Episode 1 [Series Premiere] – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

Title card of Vida, featuring Vidalia dying.
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With STARZ barely featured in “water cooler” conversation, it seems with Vida, there is a push to really be taken seriously as a network which promotes diverse stories.


Network
Starz
Creator Tanya Saracho
Director(s) Alonso Ruizpalacios
Writer(s) Tanya Saracho
Air Date 5/6/2018
Noted Actors
Vidalia Rose Portillo
Lyn Melissa Barrera
Emma Mishel Prada
Eddy Ser Anzoategui
Juniper Jackson Davis
Johnny Carlos Miranda
Mari Chelsea Rendon

The Introduction

With the death of their mother Vidalia, Lyn, who resides in San Fransisco, and Emma, who lives in Chicago, return to their old neighborhood for her funeral. During this, a few surprises, one or two good memories, and a lot of bad ones resurface. On the good side, Lyn gets to see her ex Johnny and for Emma, she gets to have what is probably her favorite meal – considering how she devours her tacos.

But, on the flip side, the girls learn that Vidalia, in her old age, apparently was lesbian and even married to a woman named Eddy for two years. If not married a woman who was undocumented so she could stay in the country. Either way, Eddy becomes a bit of a thorn in Emma’s side for with the girls getting hugs during the funeral and reception, after that wears off, old memories of being the white Mexican putas get brought up.

Making it where neither have much of a desire to stay longer than they need to. Lyn’s boyfriend in SF wants his truck back and Emma, she seemingly has graduated from her old stomping grounds and just wants to sell their mom’s bar and move on. Something a man named Nelson wants to help with but, per Vidalia’s will, Eddy has to be involved. So with Nelson having a bad reputation, in terms of screwing the locals and getting his gains from gentrifiers, Eddy isn’t on board with him being involved. Meaning, the girls maybe stuck for longer than they wanted to be.

Question(s) Left Unanswered

  1. Why was Vidalia called a hypocrite so much by Emma? Did she experiment as a youth and get chastised for it
  2. Is that little girl in the dress the spirit of the neighborhood?
  3. How exactly did Vidalia die? A brain hemorrhage?

Highlights

Emma and Lyn

 

Emma and Lyn sitting on the couch, watching home videos.
Mishel Prada as Emma – Melissa Barrera as Lyn

Speaking with [tooltips keyword=’Yoyo Opoku’ content = ‘Unrelated to the production.’], whose interview will be posted Monday, she noted that pretty much all writing has the same baseline. It can be boy meets girl, saving the world, etc. In terms of Vida, it is a sort of [tooltips keyword=’Lady Bird‘ content = Lady Bird seems like your yearly, usually released in the summer, coming of age tale that gets forgotten within months.’] type of story. Both girls, especially Emma, don’t have the best relationship with their mother Vidalia.

When it comes to Emma, while things were good as kids when they were dancing to Selena, something had to have happen in the teen or young adult years. A mystery which points you to thinking maybe Emma got caught with a girl and beaten within an inch of her life. If not, with Emma seeming to be a bit of a bougie girl, like with her wanting to know proper Spanish, there was a chasm between what Emma wanted and what Vidalia had planned. Thus creating a conflict that draws you to Ice Queen Emma.

Then, on the flip side, you have Lyn who is a free spirit, kind of like a hippie, and also a slightly bit of a wild child. At least, it appears that way when she manipulates her ex Johnny and, despite him saying he has a fiancé, seeing the woman is ready to give birth, she still has him eat the box and give her a few pumps. Calling her messy is an understatement and it is so hard to not want to see what rock bottom for her will be. Especially considering her boyfriend Juniper, who might have money, is waiting for her back in SF.

Complicated Sisterhood

Lyn asking for some support from Emma before they go back to barely speaking.
“[Referencing they rarely talk] to our regular scheduled programming of not talking.”

And it is trying to figure out how these two sisters ended up on diverging paths which also brings some intrigue. For while Lyn is noted to ask for money from her mom, she isn’t touted as a bum. She wasn’t sleeping in the home, not working, just partying and sleeping around. It seems, like Emma, she has tried to make something of herself but the businesses she has started, like repurposed jewelry and this new venture Juniper is investing in, just fail. Be it because she isn’t serious or maybe works with the wrong people.

Either way, you can see there isn’t a mutual hatred, Lyn makes it clear she wants a close relationship with her sister. Yet, something clearly happened. Something beyond whatever made Emma bougie and it isn’t clear if it has to deal with their father being deported or what.

A Sense of Community & Culture

Some members of the community worried about Eddy for not eating.
Ser Anzoategui as Eddy
“I haven’t seen you eat shit, Eddy.”

Based off the networks I’m aware of and frequent, finding stories like this isn’t common. Something beyond the sitcom setup of Netflix’s shows [tooltips keyword=’One Day At A Time‘ content = ‘While ABC has become the leader in having diverse and modern comedies, drama, and sitcoms, Netflix is steadily challenging them for the throne and perhaps the best example to date is One Day At a Time. A show which, just in 12 episodes, fully establishes the characters, their personalities, their goals, and by the final episode it leaves you in tears. | Season 1 & Season 2‘] or the dramedy which is [tooltips keyword=’On My Block‘ content = ‘On My Block balances what it means to live in an urban gang area, while never forgetting these are but 13 – 15-year-old kids. Of whom are just trying to make the best of a, sometimes, bad situation. | Season 1‘], which addresses the community, but in a sort of [tooltips keyword=’Atlanta-lite’ content = ‘Check out the latest recaps here‘] kind of way. With Vida, you get almost the full scope. We see diversity in the women, the men, the way children act, and all of the different segments of Latin/Mexican culture. We have those like Mari who reps Chola culture; the bougie, well to do, Mexican styles noted in Alexis De Anda’s [tooltips keyword=’Mea Culpa‘ content = ‘Mea Culpa is like a Spanish language version of Amy Schumer’s infamous Leather Special.’]; mentions of undocumented, which Lyn worries about; then there are those like Eddy who are lesbian. Alongside that, we have old, young, fat, modelesque, and pretty much it seems everything but someone dark to medium hue.

Thus bringing the idea, the rarity of this opportunity isn’t lost on its creator and so it is trying to represent everyone equally, as well as present their issues and complexities. Be it, how gentrifying is affecting their community, alongside the plight of the undocumented. How, similar to Black people, there is this issue of not being down enough or Mexican/Latin enough? Speaking proper Spanish vs. regional and more.

A heavy weight for a show to take on but, from the pilot, it seems ready to take this as far as it can.

On The Fence

It’s Only A Half Hour

Like [tooltips keyword=’SweetBitter‘ content = ‘ There is a bit of a change in the usual girl from nowhere comes to the big apple, and with Ella Purnell at the helm, this could very well get interesting | Recap/ Review here‘], sadly this show’s first season is only 6 episodes. On top of that, while Vida seems a bit more focused, making the half hour not so bad, at the same time it makes you feel, at least with the pilot, you are just getting an appetizer and not the full meal. Pushing the idea that maybe this would be better to binge watch than see week to week. Just because, with the way this show is set up, I could fully imagine cliffhangers galore.

First Impression: Positive (Watch This)

Emma welcoming Lyn back home after being cursed out by Mari.
“Welcome the fuck home, then”

Considering the state of America, especially considering the person in the White House, and their past comments, Vida occupies a very strong position. One which can, perhaps in a Cosby Show way, illuminate what it means to be Mexican America, be it first generation or later, if not someone who has undocumented status. Something beyond just a one episode plot but a continuous narrative.

Which is what pushes the Positive label. For the first season, this show seems like it could rely heavily on it being one of the few airing on this kind of platform and be successful. However, as for future seasons, if they come, then it will be coerced to expand and find life outside of that.


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Negative Mixed Positive