No television show out there truly captures the queer Latina experience quite like Vida. Created and written by Tanya Saracho, Vida follows the death of a woman named Vidalia (or Vida), as well as the aftermath experienced by her estranged daughters, Lyn and Emma, and her semi-secret wife, Eddy. There’s more to it, of course! There’s the on-again, off-again romance between Lynn and Johnny (a guy who’s about to have a baby with another woman, Carla). There’s Mari trying to figure out how to oppose the gentrification of her neighborhood while also simply just trying to exist as a young woman, and Emma navigating the complexities of her queerness. If I haven’t intrigued you yet, you might want to start by finally binge-watching season one.
Vida is a rare show in that it frequently shows a wide range of sexual acts from a queer and female-focused lens. In season one, we had a scene with Emma (Mishel Prada) and an internet hookup where she plays the dom, getting her toes sucked and then sitting on her partner’s face. We also had several masturbation scenes, some annilingus, and more queer sex than your average television show.
Season two is no different and opens with a cocaine-and-molly infused orgy where Lynn (Melissa Barrera) is apparently getting her kicks and trying, once more, to get over her on-again, off-again lover, Johnny. It only seems to be half working. Meanwhile, we find Emma exploring her dom side once more, by having her former co-worker’s face deep in her hindquarters. But when playtime is over, the guy starts to give Emma his opinion about how she’s leaving her job behind. Suffice to say, Emma’s not having it and kicks him to the curb.
Last season, Lyn decided to once again call things off with Johnny, recognizing that he was about to become a father, and acknowledging how “asquerosa” her behavior is. But while her intentions are good, Lynn frequently struggles with her own basic brattiness. In one scene, she loudly and absurdly complains about a small yoga studio’s lack of online scheduling platform, which caused her to accidentally arrive at a prenatal class. And who should be there but Carla? Worse is the fact that Johnny just so happens to show up as well, and you can imagine how that turns out.
Another major conflict on Vida has involved whether or not Eddy (Vida’s wife) has any claim to the bar. It’s a weakness that Nelson (the local snake-in-the-grass developer) knows to exploit. So he drops some intel to Emma about the situation: Eddy and Vida were never legally married. That means Emma could essentially cut Eddy out of the bar business…legally speaking. On the one hand, Emma doesn’t want to collude with Nelson. On the other, she’s drowning in debt and wouldn’t having Eddy out of the picture potentially make things easier?
Issues of identity and gentrification are also major themes on Vida— and no character is more involved in this than Mari. Except while she seemed pretty sure of her stance on things in season one, season two finds Mari questioning some of her actions and choices. While she wants to be “operating on the chingona level” like her bestie, a chance interaction with an old high school friend leaves her questioning whether she should be going to college or doing something else with her life instead of working odd jobs and being part of Vigilantes. It’s an issue a lot of first-generation youth experience, as some go off to colleges and white-collar jobs while others find themselves working earlier to help their family or merely get by.
Throughout this episode, Emma and Lynn both struggle to figure out a name for the bar. Emma has a few ideas, but none really seem to be fitting. Lynn, meanwhile, feels that they should name it after their mother. At the end of the episode, Emma brings Eddy home and the two happen upon Lynn, who is chasing around a kitten inside their building. Eddy tells Lynn it’s Don Fulgencio’s cat, and when Lynn goes to return it, she finds him sitting in his chair, dead as a doornail, vomit everywhere. While sad, it’s this second run-in with death that brings Emma to finally conclude what to name the bar: Vida.
“But without the ‘S’,” she stresses. And just like that, the two begin their own new vidas, as the bar’s owners as well.