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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, Saracho announced that the upcoming third season will also be the show's final season.

No relation to the video game of the same name.


This series provides examples of:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
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  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Completely Missing the Point: When Emma confronts Lyn over her affair with Johnny, Lyn willfully ignores the fact that Johnny is both engaged and a father-to-be, choosing to justify her actions on the grounds that she wants to be free from society's idea of monogamy. Understandbly, Emma is pissed at this.
  • Country Matters: Lyn tells Emma to "tone down [her] cuntiness" when they reunite in their mother's apartment.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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, who still subscribes to old-fashioned sexism by punishing his daughter for things that he lets his son get away with. Case in point, he shows no concern over the fact that Johnny is cheating on his pregnant fiancee, and instead yells at Marisol to mind her own business. However, when he finds out that Marisol had sex with her boyfriend Tlaloc, he kicks her out of the house.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • I Have No Son!: Inverted. Lyn disowns her dad over how he acted due to Emma telling him she's queer.
  • 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.
  • 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: All of the Latino characters are the standard black-haired (and brunette), olive-skinned people aside from Nico, who has slightly lighter looks. Of course, it's Truth in Television for most Latinos in the US.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Emma and (to a slightly lesser extent) Cruz (or libstick 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: 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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: Played for Drama. 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.
  • Your Cheating Heart:
    • Johnny has a pregnant fiancee, but he has sex with Lyn multiple times, despite telling her he is over her.
    • Season 3 reveals that Nico is still married to a woman named Zoey, something she hid from Emma.
  • 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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