Review: Vida, season 1

Ser Anzoategui, Mishel Prada, and Melissa Barrera in Vida

Vida is a series I’ve read many glowing reviews about, but it was on STARZ and I couldn’t watch it. Amazon Prime Video is allowing free access to season 1 for the month of April, so I took advantage of it.

There have been 3 seasons of Vida, with a 4th scheduled soon, so Amazon isn’t giving much away free. But I loved getting to see even a little of this series.

Maria-Elena Laas, Chelsea Rendon, Ser Anzoategui, Mishel Prada, Carlos Miranda, and Melissa Barrera in Vida
The main cast

The largely female cast puts me right in the kind of story I want to see. The story is set in a neighborhood in East LA undergoing gentrification. The series is a mix of English and Spanish and the Spanish is not subtitled. Much of the Spanish is cursing, but there are a few moments of dialog in Spanish that might befuddle a some folks without subtitles.

Melissa Barrera and Mishel Prada in Vida

Emma (Mishel Prada) and her sister Lyn (Melissa Barrera) are called home because of their mother’s death. Their mom ran a bar with some apartments above it. When they get home, they find their mom’s apartment occupied by Eddy (Ser Anzoategui).

At first they thought Eddy was their mom’s roommate, but later learn it was her wife. This fact sets Emma off because her mother shipped her off to Texas as an 11 year old when Emma showed signs of being a lesbian. Turns out mom was a hypocrite.

A developer wants to buy the building, the mortgages of which are underwater. Emma (mostly Emma – she’s a businesswoman while Lyn is mostly a mooch) wants to figure out how to sell it at a profit.

Chelsea Rendon and Mishel Prada in Vida

Eddy doesn’t want to sell. One third of it is hers. Neighborhood activist Mari (Chelsea Rendon) doesn’t want them to sell. She’s fighting gentrification.

It takes a while for Emma and Lyn to get interested in their old neighborhood again.

Mari’s brother is Lyn’s ex-boyfriend, Johnny (Carlos Miranda). Lyn’s interested in him. Cruz (Maria-Elena Laas) is an ex-girlfriend of Emma’s. Emma’s interested in Cruz. Sexual interest precedes neighborhood interest for these two women.

There’s a lot of sex in Vida. Nobody is pulling any punches or being coy about the sex scenes.

Emma and Lyn are both pretty messed up. Eddy had problems of her own. The three of them dealt with grief very differently. But they learned to appreciate each other as time went on. I liked them all and wish I could be with them for more seasons.

I loved the women’s voices singing. Loved it.

Vida bears some resemblance to a later series on Netflix, Gentefied. Both are Latinx, both have queer storylines, both deal with gentrification. Is the Netflix series an imitation of this STARZ original? Probably. I actually liked them both and think there is plenty of room in the world for stories about Latinx people in particular and gentrification in general.

The series was created by Tanya Saracho. The women directors in season 1 were Catalina Aguilar Mastretta, Rose Troche, and So Yong Kim.

poster for Vida

This trailer has a few comments from the creator. Bonus!

Have you seen Vida? Are you going to watch season 1 if that’s all you can get?

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Author: Virginia DeBolt

After many years as an educator and writer, Virginia finally retired from working life. She's always loved a good movie or TV show and wants to use her free time to talk about them with you now. She's Old Ain't Dead!

3 thoughts on “Review: Vida, season 1”

  1. I love this series, Everything about it is amazing. I love how the characters are allowed to be messy, damaged and completely realised. I love the nuance with which it treats the subject matter, the sexual/romantic entanglements, the family dynamics, and the gentrification. None of these subjects is simple or cut and dry, and the series treats them with the complexity and respect they deserve. The acting, writing, and directing are all top notch. I am sad that the next season is going to be the last,

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