Starz ‘Vida’ Advanced Review: When Latinx Creators Take the Wheel

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What do you get when you actually put the time and effort into providing opportunities to create, direct, write, and produce content by Latinx & queer creators and actors? You get Vida, of course.

This new show, which premieres on Starz May 6th, is the brainchild of Tanya Saracho. She takes us on a bold journey of love, discovery, and loss against the backdrop of an LA community who acts as a reminder of the past and which is the latest victim of gentrification.

At the heart of this show are two sisters that are, to put it lightly, a hot mess. They are coming back home, after a long stretch of time apart, because of the death of their mother. Emma, played by Mishel Prada, just wants to get back to her life in Chicago and put her entire adolescence in her rearview mirror. The other sister Lyn, played by Melissa Barrera, is devastated by her mother’s loss but doesn’t want to take any responsibility for her life or for her actions. They are both wildly different from each other but fit so well together because of two things. 1) The talented actresses who play these two sisters. And 2) The talented team behind the camera and in the writers room.

Every moment that you spend with these people you can feel it in your heart and in your bones that they are people just like you. It’s in the little idiosyncrasies like receiving flan by the boatload or the Spanglish that flows from their mouths and to my ears like beautiful music. It’s also real. Vida makes me feel like I’m watching someone from my family go through loss, love, and all the complications that come with it. All of that, and every single little feeling that the show has invoked in me, falls back on the writing.

You can hear the queer voices in this writing. You can hear the non-binary voices in this writing. And you could hear the Latinx voices in this writing. And it’s a beautiful thing! It’s like watching something that you thought would never appear or even take flight. A show written, directed, and starring Latinx women is no longer a mysterious unicorn. It’s real and it’s waiting for you to watch it.

Admittedly, my favorite aspect of this show is how I get to learn more about Latinx culture. When Latinx people are shown on TV they’re always painted with this really broad brush. Yes, we speak Spanish, but we have different customs, different variations of the same words, and different communities. We’re not all the same. I know, shocker! I myself am Puerto Rican and can relate to a lot of the things that these two sisters are going through and the community that they live in. But I’m not Mexican. There are just some things that are new to me and that’s okay. Because this show still connects with me and engages me and learning about the Mexican community.

Vida has opened doors in my mind and tabs on my Google browser on my computer in my hunt for information customs for Mexican funerals. I even spiraled the other day for a good hour asking my friend about the Latinx community in LA because she used to live there. If I’m this enlightened and curious after one episode imagine how I’ll be after I watch the rest of season one. Imagine how you’ll be after you watch.

You might get the same thing that I did from the show. You might understand a different community and connect with people of your own. But you also might see something completely different from myself because that’s how layered this show is. Vida caters to the Latinx community but it has something for everyone, from all the Tias coming to kiss you with that horrible lipstick that never comes off, to all the food that relatives leave you when you’re in grief and mourning. Those are universal concepts in my mind that you don’t need to be Latinx to understand.

So, give Vida a chance. Tune in on May 6th and learn a little bit more about yourself and how you’re connected to those around you in your life, neighborhood, and community.

Vida premieres May 6th on Starz at 8:30/7:30c.

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