Show We Love: Vida

There are a lot of shows on TV these days and it can be hard to sort out the good from the bad from they “Why, god, why!?” One of the ways we try to help people find the best shows is via our Show Scores where good shows get high scores, as they should. When Tracy and I both agree that a show is phenomenal for both quality and content, but also queerness, we mark it as a show we absolutely love. The newest show we love: Vida.

Tracy and I both love this show for everything that it is. We waited until the season finale to add it, but from the 3rd episode on, we were discussing the merits of Vida every week. In may ways, it was a no-brainer to give it that double heart of love.

Sisters Returning Home

The original pitch of the show was pretty basic:

Two Mexican-American sisters from the Eastside of Los Angeles couldn’t be more different or distanced from each other. Circumstances force them to return to their old neighborhood, where they are confronted by the past and surprising truth about their mother’s identity.

And of course the surprise was their mother was married to another woman (Eddy, played by the amazing Ser Anzoategui). But Vida’s second marriage isn’t the only great surprise the sisters face.

At the funeral, Lyn runs into her high school boyfriend, Johnny, who is engaged to a very pregnant Carla. The chemical attraction between Lyn and Johnny escalates, until he has to pick her or his fiancé. Meanwhile, Emma is struggling coming to terms with her own dissonance. That is, Vida kicked her out for being gay, and now Emma learns her mother was a big damn hypocrite.

Where Is Home?

In the early episodes, it’s clear that Emma wants nothing more than to sell the failing bar (and attached apartments) and go the hell back to Chicago. But the longer she stays in LA, the more she is captured by her childhood home. There’s the bar where the girls grew up, but also Cruz, the girl she loved and lost her home over (not that Cruz knew that).

Cruz wants the bar to stay because she wants to keep her safe space. All the other bars tolerate the queers, but Vida’s was their home.

Lyn doesn’t mind sticking around, especially since it puts her back with Johnny, but she too grows up and realizes the damage she can cause. Her immature and reckless choices could destroy happiness for multiple people. And is Johnny worth that?

There’s also Johnny’s sister, Marisol, an activist who wants her part of LA to be safe for her people again. She sees Emma’s planned selling of the building to be an affront to the locals.

Finally we have Eddy, poor sweet Eddy, is ripped apart by the loss of the woman she loved. Her heart and home. And even with all that pain and agony, she makes room for two girls who have no idea who she is. Because they were Vida’s. Because they should be loved.

A Story For Us All

I’m not Latinx. I’m a Jewish lesbian from Cleveland. But the story they weave in just six episodes resonates. Watching Lyn struggle and run away from being an adult in the absence of her mother touches all of us. Who hasn’t wanted to be nothing more than the child at a funeral, and not be faced with the reality that you are now stepping up to fill a void left by someone you loved?

Like Emma, who hasn’t felt blindsided by revelations to the family structure? We’ve all been there, finding out after someone’s dead the truth of their lives. Everyone is complicated, and sometimes we hurt people by keeping part of us away from them and trying to protect them.

And my poor darling Eddy exposes the raw grief we all have felt on the loss of someone we love. How everything just hurts all the time, and nothing makes it right, and it’s just gone.

The finale aired on the five year anniversary of my grandmother’s, Taffy’s, death. Not a day has gone by where I’ve not thought of her.

Watch Vida on Starz

The first season is only six, 30-minute, episodes. It’s a blip on the radar. Barely three hours of some of the finest quality television you’ll see. It’s gritty, messy, and absolutely 100% real. It was renewed for a second season, so we’ll get to find out what happens to Eddy, if Lyn’s credit card fraud will come back to haunt her, and if Emma and Cruz can make it work.

Watch this show we love: Vida.

About Mika A. Epstein

Mika has been deep in fandom since she could say 'Trekkie.' With decades experience in running fansites, developing software, and organizing communities, she's taken on the challenge of delving into the recesses of television for queers long forgotten. Making this site with Tracy is nothing short of serendipity. Mika lives with her wife and their cats in Southern California. Of course she has a hybrid, but she'd rather ride her bicycle.
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