A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Despite some homophobic language (“carpet muncher,” “tortilleras”) that’s called out for being homophobic, this drama sends a strong pro-LGBT message, with relationships both hetero- and homosexual taken seriously and given weight and dignity. There are also complex messages about ethnicity and background, with many proud Latino characters who talk about nuanced subjects like gentrification and whether it’s important to speak Spanish as a Latin American.
Positive Role Models
The characters in Vida are complex and varied, presenting an unusual-for-TV picture of a low-income neighborhood with characters who have dignity and agency. Many characters have both good and bad sides to them -- they make mistakes and grow over the course of the series.
Violence & Scariness
Violence is infrequent but upsetting: In one early scene, a woman gets a nosebleed and then falls to the floor of her bathroom, dead, while a pool of blood spreads beneath her head. We then see her friends and loved ones reacting to her death: grieving, crying.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Expect strong sexual content such as a woman receiving oral sex from a man (we see her outstretched legs and his bobbing head), and then sex with moaning and thrusting, while the bare backside of the man is visible at length. No one talks about using a condom, and the man is cheating on his fiance, and in an alleyway at a funeral, to boot.
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Cursing "bulls--t," "f--k," "hell," "s--t," "c—t," women call each other "bitch." There’s also language related to being LGBT (“carpet muncher,” “tortillera”) and relating to ethnic identity, like when a Mexican woman calls a white woman a “Becky” and says she’s going to “Columbus” the traditionally Latino neighborhood, and calls two Latina women “pinches gringas” (a pejorative term for white women) and is then called a “chola.”
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters work at a bar -- expect to see people drinking, sometimes to excess. One character in particular drinks and then gets sloppy, emotional, and violent. A main character smokes cigarettes, another man vapes something out of an e-pipe.
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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.
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.
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