“Find your way back home” is the tagline for Vida, but this new Starz drama is in many ways a road map into the real American mosaic of 2018 in all its messy, hurtful, complex and heartfelt glory. With gender, culture, economics, family, sexuality, conflict and unconventional wisdom at its often raw core, the May 6-debuting Latinx series from Tanya Saracho has the added value of being really good television.
Clearly influenced by the original The L Word and that other Showtime series Shameless, and a blatant lunge towards the massive audience of America’s largest minority, the six-episode Vida kicks off with estranged sisters Emma (Misha Prada) and Lyn (Melissa Barrera) returning to their old LA neighborhood of Boyle Heights to bury their mother. Having created distinctly different lives for themselves in Chicago and San Francisco, respectively, the siblings aim to hit the SoCal ground, put their mother Vidalia in the ground, sell their inheritance, and go back to their lives. Which, of course, is a solid setup for nothing turning out as planned or turning out the way they thought – especially when they meet Eddy (Ser Anzoategui), the other participant in the estate and their mother’s life.
With Fear The Walking Dead: Passage alum Prada cast in the role first held by Veronica Orsorio, Club de Cuervos vet Barrera and a well-positioned premiere at this year’s SXSW, Vida is full of great performances from its leads as well as Anzoategui and The Fosters semi-regular Chelsea Rendon as a local activist. From its opening episode helmed by Alonso Ruizpalacios, the half-hour series also rejects barriers, slaps stereotypes silly and triumphantly spotlights several worlds you may not know that well but are vital parts of the cultural fabric of our time and country.
Like a lot of premium cable and a lot of the shows on Starz in particular, there is plenty of naked skin in the wonderfully honest Vida but, as I say in my video review above, on its own path in the best way. Which is another way of saying – watch it. BTW – the literal English translation of “vida” is “life,” and this show lives up to its title.
For more of my take on Vida, click on the video review above and take a look at the lushly production-designed series. Will you be watching Sunday?