Vida: Season 1 – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

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Vida looking over Eddy.
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Vida for STARZ is perhaps the first show it has had, in a long time, which makes it a network worth subscribing to.


Network
STARZ
CreatorTanya Saracho
Noted Cast
EmmaMishel Prada
LynMelissa Barrera
VidaRose Portillo
EddySer Anzoategui
MariChelsea Rendon
JohnnyCarlos Miranda
CruzMaria-Elena Laas
TlalocRamses Jimenez

Summary

Sisters Emma and Lyn have long, for different reasons, not have been that close to their mother Vida. When it comes to Lyn, arguably it could just be because she was living her life and the neighborhood wasn’t as fancy as her dreams wanted reality to be. As for Emma? Due to her mother’s assumed homophobia, which might have more so been protection, she felt that being queer stood in the way of their relationship.

Making it a surprise when Emma learns Vida married a woman, Eddy. Someone who is just one big ole, possibly alcoholic teddy bear. Someone who Vida shared dreams of reconciling with the girls but now that she is dead, Eddy tries to fulfill that dream. Problem is, neither girl, after returning for Vida’s funeral, really seem to want to connect with each other, Eddy, or even the neighborhood they left behind.

However, as old love interest pop up, a young woman named Mari confronts them about how they are contributing to the gentrification of the neighborhood, they begin to plant roots. The kind which, towards the end of the season, seem like they might not get ripped out of the ground.

Question(s) Left Unanswered

  1. So, in the already confirmed season 2, will Lyn taking out and using a credit card in her mother’s name be mentioned?

Highlights

The Complications of Being Latinx & Queer

Cruz noting how, despite Emma not liking sweets, she'd always let Cruz buy her one.
“You always let me buy you orejitas after school.”

Taking note The L Word exists, what doesn’t exist on platforms like STARZ is current queer Latinx representation. Something which speaks not just in a general sense but is also culturally specific. For while we have access to movies and mainstream shows which deal with white queer men dealing with homophobia, and shows like Pose represent the T in LGBT, they don’t focus on lesbian women. Much less lesbian Latinx women.

So while they all share a common community, Vida represents a subsect that rarely gets this much focus outside of web series and the occasional indie movie which lives off word of mouth. Something that is rather important for being seen is everything. Having someone to point to and identify with saves lives. For it is one thing for the saying “It Gets Better” to be spoken, but to see it got better for someone who looks like you, loves like you, or had the same experiences you are going through, even if fictional, can mean the world.

Empowerment aside, there is also a need to speak of the more negative aspects. Such as Cruz’s mention of how, yes, she can go to many a bar in the neighborhood, but only really felt safe at Vida’s bar. Thus pushing the concept of why safe spaces matter for in some places you are tolerated but others you are loved and engaged. You don’t have to feel as if, one wrong word or step means violence. Whatever you identify as can finally be a suffix and not a prefix.

A Complex Family Dynamic

Thinking of family in terms of Emma, Vida, Lyn, and Eddy, you have to admit things were quite interesting. Starting off with the big one, the fact Emma got treated as she did by Vida was strange. Was it because Vida didn’t want Emma to experience the fears she was experiencing with being out? Could it be her beliefs were strongly held when young, so she punished Emma, but as she got older she decided to err towards being happy? There is a lot going on there which, through Vida’s child ghost, made it clear Vida definitely felt guilt, but sadly that reconciliation isn’t possible in the way both needed.

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

Switching to Lyn and Emma’s relationship, taking note Emma loves Lyn from afar, we also have to take note of why they are different. As seen by Lyn’s ideas and Emma’s worth ethic, they both have their mom’s entrepreneurial spirit. The problem is, because Emma was sent away to Texas with her abuelita, she found herself working hard to get out of that situation. With Lyn? Well, it isn’t clear what her childhood was like really but one could imagine it wasn’t traumatic. If anything, Vida may have gone too easy on Lyn since she treated the world as her oyster. Pretty much using people until they got tired of her. A trait you have to question, where did that come from?

For with Emma, you can trace a lot of her personality to the little we know of Vida. With Lyn? You can assume maybe she is like her dad but so little is said about him that it is hard to say.

Leaving Eddy. While we know Eddy pursued Vida and she gave in, there is this need to understand why. Which, perhaps wrong of me to think, I wondered if it was for citizenship purposes or something like that. For while we know Vida and Eddy shared a bed, there isn’t much said about them being romantic or anything like that. Yet, despite not developing the relationship between Eddy and Vida much, watching Eddy try to with the girls was truly something to be seen. I’m talking, even if not Emmy or Golden Globe worthy, I do think when it comes to LGBT and Latinx award shows, Anzoategui needs to be nominated.

Eddy’s Grief On Full Display

Eddy looking over at Vida's kids.

Particularly because, while in the United States gay marriage is legalized, it isn’t like being part of the LGBTQIA spectrum has guaranteed acceptance within and outside of big cities. Laws don’t change people, it just makes them more careful. So, taking note of how gay marriage has been legal only a few years, seeing a female widow mourn her wife was an experience. Because, a lot of times, when it comes to the queer experience, especially for people of color, we don’t see this. Most of the time the story is focused on young queer people. Especially in terms of finding love.

So the change of narrative here presents something quite fresh and eye-opening. Not because we are seeing a queer person grieve but because it presents how universal the heartbreak is of losing your partner. And, as said before, representation is everything for more people will see something and learn than read a book or pursue a conversation.

A Sense of Community & Culture – Highlight From Episode 1

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.

Mari, after speaking during the activist meeting, asserting her influence and power.
“Badass”

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 rep 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; then there are those like Eddy who are lesbian. Alongside that, we have old, young, fat, model-esque, 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 they tried to represent everyone equally, as well as present their issues and complexities. Be it, how gentrifying is affecting their community or, similar to Black people, there is this issue of not being down enough or Mexican/Latin enough. Speaking proper Spanish vs. regional and more.

The Emma and Mari Conversation from Episode 5 & Lyn Seeing The Cleaning Lady At The Party Then On The Same Bus in Episode 4

In the 4th and 5th episode, we’re reminded that, as different as Lyn and Emma may be perceived, or they perceived themselves, they’re still Latinx at the end of the day. To put it a different way, both receive a hefty reality check. For Lyn, it is the realization that this lavish lifestyle she lives isn’t sustainable. That being the cute exotic girl isn’t going to keep life comfortable and easy. There will come a point where she has to get real and a cute figure, a boob job, and youthful face won’t keep the bills paid. She’ll have to work and with so many failed ideas, no real education either, what can she do?

Well, clean. Like the woman at the party, she’ll end up finding herself going from the partygoer to the person who cleans up behind other people’s fun. A realization which might be why, by the end of episode 6, she is much more invested in what happens to the bar.

Mari reminding Emma that, despite their differences, they are the same to the outside world.
“You and I were the same to her.”

Leading to the Emma x Mari conversation. Mari, since her introduction, has but heads with Lyn, because of her being Johnny’s side piece, and Emma, since she sees her as a coconut (I think that’s the right term). Yet, when both get arrested since, no matter who you are, when white women feel threatened – you going to jail, they have a conversation. Which ends up a humbling experience for both. When it comes to Emma, it shows no matter how put together you are, it won’t matter if you ever live up to a stereotype.

But then there is how Mari was humbled. When it comes to that, you have to take note we don’t hear a lot about Mari’s mother. So with Emma sitting down and talking to her, sharing tomboy stories, and perhaps being one of the few women who have done so in Mari’s life, an understanding is gained. One which builds for Emma some type of understanding of how important preserving the neighborhood is for some. Then for Mari, it is this idea that she should be proud and comfortable with who she is.

Low Points

Lack of Closure For Mari’s Storyline

Mari is completely absent from the last episode and while in episode 5 she reclaims the power Tlaloc, possibly intentionally, stole from her, that didn’t make for the best way to end the character’s story. Even if just for the season.

On The Fence

I Wish More Was Done With Vida’s Ghost

Until the final episode, it wasn’t really clear why the hell this little ghost girl was haunting Emma. Heck, outside of the assumption of guilt, it still isn’t clear why Vida is haunting solely Emma. Especially considering how much Eddy could have used her presence and Lyn was falling into her old bad habits.

Eddy Being Used As A Wakeup Call For Emma

While, on its own, Eddy’s assault represents why queer people need their own spaces, it is unfortunate her being assaulted was kind of a plot device. One which, after Emma cleaning up the bar and finding someone to sell to, this is what changed her mind. Not Cruz trying to have a conversation but Eddy being beaten within an inch of her life.

Yet, at the same time, there is a need to recognize violence has far more sway over people than words. Something which is quite unfortunate but proven true in this case.

Overall: Positive (Watch This) – Recommended


Outside of Power, I didn’t think STARZ really had anything to offer. That, as a network, all it had was licensing of movies that, with Amazon and so many other options, led you to wonder, “Why in the hell would anyone pay for this channel?” Yet, with Vida now, at least for a few weeks out the year, there is a serious reason to subscribe.

Hence the positive label. Vida continues to expand the idea of what it is like to be Latinx in the United States, brings about different representation of what it means to be queer, and while it has its comedic moments, its rooted in what you could truly believe is someone’s story. And unlike SweetBitter, despite being only 6 episodes, all a half hour each, they are so well written that, as you reminisce, you’re surprised all that was given wasn’t within an hour.

Leading to why this is being recommended. In the television industry, half-hour shows are supposed to be comedies and hour long shows either straight dramas or, like Shameless they are dramedies. Vida breaks that mold and proves that, on what technically is a major network, things don’t have to be that way. It provides an excellent blueprint that honestly, I would love to see more shows to follow.

Has Another Season Been Confirmed?: Yes


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Episode List

Episode 1
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.
Episode 2
Emma learns the state of Vida’s books as Lyn searches for some answers out of Lupe about life.
Episode 3
As Emma hunkers down and starts working on the books, Eddy has a breakthrough with the girls and Lyn? Well, she deals with Karla.
Episode 4
We finally get to know the details of Emma’s beef with Vida as Mari learns Tlaloc is not a good dude – despite his excuses.
Episode 5
As Lyn and Emma start planting roots, Eddy continues to try to break through to the girls and form some sort of family. Also, Mari and Emma have a conversation.
Episode 6
The world shifts for both Emma and Lyn as two major events mean they have closed a chapter in their life and are ready to begin a new one.

How Would You Rate This?

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