A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Vida is a complex, mature drama about two women who return to their old neighborhood when it's going through changes. Sexual content is strong, with implied oral sex and intercourse with thrusting, moaning, and an extended view of a man's bare backside; expect to see same- and opposite-sex coupling. Violence is infrequent but emotional: a mother dies onscreen (we see her fall to the floor and blood pooling beneath her head) and her bereaved loved ones cry, scream, and otherwise grieve visibly at length. Language includes cursing ("bulls--t," "f--k," "hell," "s--t," "c--t," "bitch"), racial language (characters are called "chola," "gringas," a "Warby Parker bitch" and other epithets), and homophobic language ("carpet muncher"). However, LGBT relationships are central and given respect and dignity, sending a strong message of diversity. Much of the drama in this show centers on nuanced issues such as gentrification, language, racial/ethnic identity, sexuality; watching may spark conversations about deep topics. Characters drink alcohol, especially one who drinks heavily and becomes emotional and/or violent. A main character smokes cigarettes.
What's the story?
When they get the call that their mom has suddenly died, VIDA's daughters Emma (Mishel Prada) and Lyn (Melissa Barrera) return to East L.A.'s Boyle Heights to wrap up what's left of her life. But instead of a tidy estate, they find Vidalia's wife Eddy (Ser Anzoategui) operating the run-down bar inside the building they just inherited, and a neighborhood in flux -- hipsters film food reviews in front of Mexican restaurants, and a scammy real estate fixer quickly offers to hook Emma up with a nice group of real estate developers who can sell off that run-down old building for her (which means kicking the undocumented tenants of the building out of their homes, of course). Suddenly, everything's unclear, in particular what the sisters owe to their old neighborhood and the people who live there. They say you can't go home again. But when you must, what happens next?
Is it any good?
Engrossing and very cool, this drama's interesting setting -- a rapidly gentrifying lower-income Latin neighborhood in East L.A. -- gives it a unique sense of place. Not that Emma and Lyn appreciate it, at least at first. Emma, whose always-in-place carmine-red lipstick is an emblem for her put-together life, has a heavy job with a demanding boss in Chicaco; Lyn's been chasing a bohemian life in San Francisco, with a gringo boyfriend who likes her enough to invest in her line of Aztec lotions. Both of them are surprised to find themselves back home again, quickly embroiled in the neighborhood politics they became a part of as soon as they inherited their mom's building (which is half-filled with undocumented immigrants, Lyn tells us in Vida's first episode).
But while in lesser shows the people in the neighborhood would be types mouthing slogans, these residents quickly emerge as real, complex people -- hot-tempered young Mari (Chelsea Rendon), who's fighting her neighborhood's gentrification in YouTube videos and on the streets, Vidalia's widow, (played sympathetically by non-binary actor Anzoategui), so bereft at her wife's passing that she screams silently in the bathtub in one scene. Emma and Lyn may have tried to escape their pasts. But their lives are woven into the neighborhood -- there's no escape. Not that anyone, even conflicted Emma, would want to get far from this fascinating and complex show.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about family relationships. How are they depicted in Vida? How does family help you cope with the ups and downs of life? Are there times when a family member's input is more important than a friend's? How does our need for family change as our life situations change?
Does it surprise you that this show's creator, Tanya Saracho, was born in Mexico? How does our background influence the subjects we take on and the stories we tell? Is it important that different types of people get to tell their stories on TV? Why?
Vida doesn't subtitle many of its Spanish words and phrases. Why? Do you speak Spanish? Do you understand the Spanish slang, or do you have to figure out or look up what it means? Does learning the slang give you more of an appreciation for this drama or its characters?
For kids who love drama
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