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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.
  • 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.
  • Book Ends: The first episode opens with Marisol, confidently showcasing her activism. The final episode of the season 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.
  • 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.
  • Colorism: 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".
  • 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.
  • 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, and 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.
    • Johnny is the foolish sibling, and Marisol is the responsible sibling. Johnny has an affair with Lyn, cheating on his pregnant fiancée. He also forgets to take his father to his doctor appointments with fatal consequences. Contrastingly, Marisol works multiple jobs to sustain herself and her father. She also nurses her father and takes him to his appointments when she is not working.
  • 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".
  • Glad I Thought of It: For Eddy’s fundraiser, Lyn comes up with an idea where people pay to hit a Trump piñata. One of Eddy’s friends tells Lyn that might not be a good idea since Eddy got in the hospital by getting beat up. During the party, someone finds the piñata and lets people pay to hit it, annoying Lyn.
  • 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 religious.
  • 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 strongly opposes homosexuality. He's unsurprisingly displeased to learn that Emma and Lyn's bar hosts LGBT events and tries to take it from them legally so they'll stop. When Emma tells him she's queer, his congregation prays for her loudly, and she leaves in disgust. Because of this, Lyn, who'd wanted to forge a relationship with him, 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.
  • Instant Humiliation Just Add Youtube: Marisol gives Tlaloc 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 laundry detergent 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 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.
  • New Parent Nomenclature Problem: Lyn and Emma always call Eddy by her name. They only call her their step-mother when Eddy is in the hospital, and they need the hospital staff to give them access to her room. It turns out she isn’t their step-mother because Eddy and Vida were never legally married.
  • 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.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Even though they are not married, Rudy's mother is condescending and passive aggressive towards Lyn.
  • 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 Abandonment:
    • Emma and Lyn’s mother's death is the Inciting Incident for the plot, while their father is absent in the beginning. It turns out he was deported to Mexico, but there's no indication of them being in contact with him at first. 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.
    • Johnny and Marisol’s mother is deceased before the series starts, leaving them without parents when their father dies in Season 3.
  • 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 "Mami".
  • 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.
  • Reality Has no Subtitles: The show's producers purposely left out any English subtitles to translate the Spanish for this reason.
  • 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.
  • Skewed Priorities. Los Vigilantes focus on gentrification, but they prioritize Lyn and Emma's bar instead of focusing on the real estate development across the street from them, which will gentrify their neighborhood. Emma and Lyn make an effort to hire Latinx people, including Latinx musical acts. Their bar is also a safe space for the LGBTQ community.
  • 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.
  • Stereotype Flip: The main characters defy the Spicy Latina stereotype.
    • Emma, of the poor, uneducated, and "loose" variety. She's a middle-class businesswoman who's the intellect of the cast. While she's shown taking multiple sex partners, they are of various gender identities.
    • Lyn, of the dumb, sexually available type. While she is beautiful and very sexually active, she becomes disillusioned with this lifestyle. This is best shown when she takes a vow of celibacy, and takes over operations at the bar (even in Emma's absence), showing that she can be business-oriented when needs to be.
    • Eddy, of the hot, heterosexual Latina. She's a Butch Lesbian, and has larger body proportions.
    • Marisol, of the angry, progressive Chicana activist. While she does start out following this stereotype to a T, this mellows out in later episodes when she begins to question her own beliefs. She also follows along with the role of the traditional Mexican daughter for her father's sake.
  • 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.
  • Wake-Up Call: The Hernandez sisters occasionally get these to remind them that they cannot just shed their Mexican heritage whenever they want. Emma gets hers when a realtor (who's a white woman) calls the police on her and Marisol when the two get into a scuffle. Lyn gets hers when she rides on the bus with an older Latina maid, realizing that she's only seen as exotic arm candy for white men.
  • 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.
  • You're Not My Father: Lyn disowns her dad over how he acted after Emma told him she's queer.