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Series / Vida

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From left to right: Cruz, Eddy, Emma, Lyn, Johnny, Marisol.

Vida is a Dramatic Half-Hour series created by Tanya Saracho for Starz. It premiered on May 6th, 2018.

The series follows two sisters - Emma (played by Mishel Prada) and Lyn Hernandez (played by Melissa Barrera)- as they return to their hometown in East Los Angeles in a primarily Mexican-American community. The sisters must come together after a long absence in the wake of their mother's death, whereupon they learn that she was secretly married to another woman. From there, they must confront their own issues while Emma tries to sell her mother's bar, even though her widow, Eddy, won't allow it. A sideplot involves a local girl named Marisol who is fighting gentrification in their town.

On March 18th 2020, Saracho announced that the third season would also be the show's final season.

No relation to the video game of the same name.


This series provides examples of:

  • Activist Fundamentalist Antics: Los Vigilantes, the activist group Marisol gets involved with, are to oppose the gentrification of their neighborhood, with noisy protests (sometimes violent), graffiti and harassing or insulting Latinos in the area who don't go along with their goals, whom they call "coconuts". The group's aggressive and alienating tactics do them no favors, even with people who might have otherwise been on their side.
  • Age-Gap Romance: Vidalia was at least twenty years older than her wife Eddy.
  • Attention Whore: Lyn is the kind of girl who actively goes looking for drama yet complains that drama always finds her no matter where she goes. Case in point, Lyn was delighted when Johnny's fiancee finds out she was sleeping with him and goes to confront her.
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  • Berserk Button: Eddy will not tolerate anyone speaking ill of Vidalia, even her (Vida's) own daughters.
  • Big Eater: The way Emma practically shoves her carne asada into her mouth in the first episode would make one think that she hasn't eaten in ages. Lyn's accompanying shocked expression says it all.
  • Bilingual Bonus: There's a lot of Spanish in the series that's untranslated.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Season One ends with Eddy in a coma after being beaten unconscious by a thuggish bar patron, but it's implied that Emma and Lyn will go into business to keep the bar running without having to sell it. The final shot is of what appears to be Vidalia's spirit holding Eddy's hand.
  • Bookends: The first episode opens with Marisol, confidently showcasing her activism. The final episode of the series closes on Marisol, now disillusioned with her life, wondering what to do next.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: While Karla is justified in being furious at Lyn for going after her fiancé for her own amusement, Lyn also points out that it was Johnny who ultimately consented to sneak off with her behind Karla's back.
  • Butch Lesbian: Eddy is quite butch in her appearance, having short hair and very masculine clothing. It's also revealed she binds her breasts. In the second season, a bunch of others are shown. They even discuss the idea of advertising that they're lesbians by masculine clothing and hairstyles. Nico is one of them, who Emma then gets involved with.
  • But Not Too Black: Prejudice against darker-skinned Latinos is discussed as being common in the community. Nelson, the sleazy developer, told someone right to her face he wasn't interested after she turned out darker than in her online photo. Marcos and Lyn decide to use this by setting up a fake profile on a dating site of a very white girl, then catfish him. He tells Lyn (thinking she's the girl) he's not into Latinas due to preferring "pink nipples".
  • Calling Parents by Their Name: Emma never calls her parents anything but their given names, because she is/was estranged from them both.
  • Casting Gag: Eddy is asked if she's non-binary in one episode. She's confused and says "No". The actor portraying her, Ser Anzoategui, is non-binary.
  • Category Traitor: Emma and Lyn are accused of not being "real" Latinas frequently, using such slurs as "coconut" or "White-ina", because they left the neighborhood, then came back to do some stuff differently with their mom's bar. Nelson is also accused of this, though with far more justification in his case, as he's gentrifying at the cost of the residents plus shows contempt for most Latinas. Marisol also calls a Latino ICE agent one as well, again with more justification as he's rounding up fellow Latinos.
  • Country Matters: Lyn tells Emma to "tone down [her] cuntiness" when they reunite in their mother's apartment.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms:
    • Emma tries this but finds herself unable to do so since Eddy and another group of women are praying or singing for Vida.
    • In the second season, the councilman implies he'll be doing this after Lyn backs off from sex with him.
  • Disappeared Dad: Emma and Lyn’s father is only mentioned once briefly-apparently he was deported to Mexico, but there's no indication of them being in contact with him since. It turns out they thought he died, but he's still alive and is back in the US. Lyn reconnects to him, but Emma doesn't want to. It doesn't last long, since he expresses homophobia toward them hosting LGBT events in their bar, and about Emma being queer, so Lyn declares him no longer her father.
  • Domestic Abuse: Emma and Lyn's father Victor used to beat up their mother, Vidalia. Lyn insists he's changed, while Emma is reluctant to accept this. It's revealed that he had beaten Vida within an inch of her life when she tried to defend teenage Emma after he had found her exploring her sexuality.
  • Double-Meaning Title: "Vida" means "life" in Spanish, though it may also refer to the sisters' mother, Vida, which is short for Vidalia.
  • Double Standard:
    • Johnny and Marisol's father isn't concerned that Johnny is cheating on his pregnant fiancée with his ex-girlfriend. But when he finds out that Marisol had sex with Tlaloc, he kicks her out of the house.
    • Likewise, Lyn doesn't understand why she's the only one being vilified for Johnny's infidelity when he willingly had sex with her.
  • Fanservice Extra: A number of minor/background characters appear either nude to varying degrees or having sex in the series.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Lyn is the foolish sibling, Emma is the responsible sibling. Lyn causes trouble wherever she goes, such as starting an affair with Johnny and going on a thousand dollar shopping spree just to cheer herself up. Emma, on the other hand, is hard-nosed and prudent to a fault, driving everyone nuts with her high expectations.
  • The Generation Gap: Eddy is confused by younger LGBT people, as they embrace "queer" as a self-descriptor (it was a dire insult to her generation) while not understanding the idea of non-binary, which has become a common identity in theirs. They in turn view her as an out of touch "elder".
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Averted. Emma gets abortion pills immediately after discovering she's pregnant, which is treated matter of factly by her and Lyn (the only other person who knows). In fact Lyn mentions she'd once used the same means to have an abortion herself before.
  • Granola Girl: Lyn, to the point that Eddy tries to accommodate her diet with vegan options. Even so, she breaks down by eating flan in Episode Two.
  • Groin Attack: Emma throws hot coffee onto Nelson's groin.
  • Heel–Faith Turn: Victor says he was once bad, but changed his ways after getting religion.
  • Heritage Disconnect: Estranged sisters Emma and Lyn are both Mexican-American. Lyn is later mocked for not knowing Spanish fluently, while Emma made a point of learning it to grow fluent, since their family spoke only "Spanglish" before.
  • Heteronormative Crusader: Victor is a conservative Christian minister who's strongly opposed to homosexuality. He's unsurprisingly displeased learning that Emma and Lyn's bar hosts LGBT events, trying to take it from them legally so they'll stop. Emma telling him she's queer causes him to have his congregation pray for her loudly, and she leaves in disgust. Because of this Lyn, who'd wanted to forge a relationship with him, also turns her back on Victor.
  • Hypocrite:
    • The main reason Emma was estranged from her mother was because she freaked out upon finding out that Emma is queer, and it only angers Emma more to find out Vidalia was married to a woman herself.
    • Emma calls Mari out for being a “woke activist” who then slut-shames Lyn. And that's not getting into her racism in earlier episodes.
  • Ice Queen: Emma, who is generally cold to nearly everyone she comes across. She frequently refers to Eddy as simply "the wife" and always refers to her own mother by her first name.
  • I Have No Son!: Inverted. Lyn disowns her dad over how he acted due to Emma telling him she's queer.
  • Instant Humiliation Just Add Youtube: Marisol gives a guy oral sex, then a video he took of this gets shared around, humiliating her.
  • Interchangeable Asian Cultures: Before Emma and Lyn's arrival, Vida's bar was named "La Chinita", with a geisha as its logo. Emma notes that's Japanese, not Chinese ("La Chinita" is "little Chinese girl" in Spanish), saying it was racist to conflate them so ignorantly.
  • Internalized Categorism: Vidalia had kicked out Emma twice over her attraction to women. However, once it's been revealed Vidalia herself liked women (even later marrying one) Emma angrily concludes this about her. The sisters are accused of being self-hating by other Latino people who dislike them changing the bar as well.
  • Intimate Marks: One of the women whom Emma has a threeway with has many tattoos on her torso just beside or above (though not on) her breasts, plus over her ass, as the audience gets shown in great detail.
  • Jerkass:
    • Not to the point of being malicious—maybe—but Lyn's seducing of an old flame of hers, knowing he had a fiancee who was pregnant with his kid, as well as going on shopping sprees using her dead mother's credit cards don't point towards good character on her part. A saint she is not.
    • Marisol falls into this as well. Fighting against gentrification may or may not be a worthy cause depending on one's point of view but Mari gets pretty racist about it, to the point where she considers Emma and Lyn a pair of race traitors and "White-inas" for leaving their neighborhood.
    • Yoli, a member of Los Vigilantes, douses the supposedly "whitewashed" Lyn in bleach to emphasize how out of touch she and Emma are with the dangers of gentrification.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Emma's more of an ice queen than a true jerkass but she does have a legitimate (and pretty heartbreaking) reason to speak ill of her deceased mother. After being kicked out—twice—by Vidalia as she's queer (especially while Vidalia was working out her own "gay shame"), can you really blame her for being angry?
  • Latino Is Brown: Nelson prefers dating White woman over Latinas as he likes fair skin. However, in reality Latina women have a variety of skin tones (not to mention that Latino is a culture, not a race, thus White vs. Latino isn't a binary option, however in the US they're often treated that way). Only those with olive skin and darker are shown in the series, expect for maybe Nico.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Emma and (to a slightly lesser extent) Cruz (or lipstick bisexual, in Emma's case) who has a quite feminine style of dress. Possibly also Vida, assuming she was a lesbian and not bi, who always dressed in feminine ways from what we see.
  • Luke, You Are My Father: Lyn meets up with her long-missing father at his church and reveals who she is to him (they hadn't seen each other since Lyn's childhood).
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places:
    • Johnny and Lyn have sex on the stairs behind a building (which can't be too comfortable).
    • Emma and Nico have sex in the bar's bathroom (they lock it at least).
  • Masculine–Feminine Gay Couple:
    • Vidalia was feminine, while her wife Eddy is really butch.
    • In the second season, feminine Emma gets involved with Nico, who's butch.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Both sisters whenever they share intimate moments with their lovers. Lyn has had a nude or sex scene in literally every episode so far.
  • Monochrome Casting: Nearly all of the characters are Latino, except for a couple minor White ones. As it's set in a heavily Latino section of LA and focuses on their lives though, it makes sense.
  • No Bisexuals:
    • Emma and Lyn assume their mother was a closeted lesbian for years while being married to their father, after they learn she had married a woman before her death. Neither considers that she might have been bisexual.
    • The second season has Emma revealed to be bisexual, and she's faced with lesbians who are skeptical about it. All of this is said right to her face, and Emma's very upset by it.
  • Outside/Inside Slur: Emma and Lyn are frequently referred to as "coconuts" or "White-inas" because they previously left their neighborhood, and later return to make major changes to their late mother's bar. Season 3 shows disgruntled residents painting actual coconuts over Emma and Lyn's painting on the community mural to further protest the changes they made to Vida's bar.
  • Parental Title Characterization: The Hernandez sisters' relationship with their late mother is clearly demonstrated by how they address her. Emma, who is still angry and hurt about being sent away for liking girls, only calls her by her full name, Vidalia. Lyn had a much warmer relationship with her and calls her "Mommy".
  • Polyamory: A couple who Emma hooks up with offer to have her be their third. She rejects the offer though, saying that never works in the end.
  • Queer Romance:
    • Emma and Lyn learn their mother Vidalia married another woman, Eddie, which is quite a revelation to them. Although Vidalia's dead from the beginning, this relationship has repercussions throughout the series.
    • Emma is revealed to be bisexual, hooking up with a woman quite early on. Her romances with Cruz and then Nico also form a large part of the plot.
  • Questionable Consent: Emma gives Nico oral sex while she's high. Nico later feels guilty about this, saying that it was "rapey". Emma dismisses this though, saying she wanted it and would have done the same even if unimpaired (though Nico points out that the point is she wasn't).
  • Race Fetish:
    • Nelson prefers "pink nipples", i.e. white women.
    • Lyn is quite frequently on the receiving end of this trope by white men who use her for "exotic Latina" sex only to end up dumping her.
  • Really Gets Around: Lyn has casual sex pretty frequently, with the second season also revealing that she even regularly attends orgies (though this stops in the episode we see, as she's grown tired of it). Emma does this too, but to a lesser degree, with her number of sexual partners in the show being more limited.
  • The Reveal: Doña Lupe revealing that Vida sent Emma away, not because she had a problem with her daughter's sexuality, but to protect her from her father, who flew into a rage when he discovered young Emma kissing a girl.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The end of Episode One shows Emma and Lyn crying for Vida as they watch an old videotape showing them as children dancing with their mother, all while the fun and bouncy Selena song "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom" plays in the background.
  • A Threesome Is Hot: Emma meets up with two women in a club (one of whom she'd previously hooked up with) and they have sex (offscreen).
  • Token White: Nearly all of the cast are Latin American, with only a few whites appearing on the show. Lyn's boyfriend in the first season and a store owner (whose property Marisol vandalizes) are probably the only ones who ever appear in more than a couple scenes, have multiple lines or aren't in the background.
  • Villainous Gentrification: The series' subplot involves the characters resisting the attempts to gentrify Boyle Heights, mainly because it could raise property prices to the point that most residents couldn't afford to live there, and can potentially erase the neighborhood's beloved Latin culture.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Eddy is appalled by Emma's coldness and Lyn's self-centeredness in regards to their mother's death.
  • Widow Woman: Eddy is devastated by her wife Vidalia's death.

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