Previously, on season 1 of Vida
The second season of Vida is more intimate as we delve deeper into the inner workings of the Hernandez sisters. The ripples slowly turn to waves when Lyn and Emma get more information about the life of their mother, Vidalia. We follow these two women on their path to self realization and just how much their mother did not show them. Though the sisters quickly realize that the bar must be named “Vida”, they’re slow to learn what that truly means for their community.
Sophomore season continues to craft the nuanced tale that starts with Emma liquidating her Chicago assets and moving back home. This decision is against her better judgement and the advice of her supervisor, who also happens to be her part-time sex partner. Emma’s business plan is to turn the bar around in 6 months. Though Emma has a sense of what she is in for, she tries to hold together the confidence that she can fulfill her plan with little to no surprises. Naturally, everything that could go wrong does. On top of it all, the ever-creeping real estate developer, Nelson (Luis Bordonada) continues to screw with Emma at any chance.
Emma tries to seek solace in the wide open arms of Cruz, but the more time they spend together the more constricted Emma feels. In an attempt to open up more with Cruz, Emma agrees to go to a same-sex wedding for Cruz’s cousins. The event quickly devolves into what homosexuality should “look like” and Emma is used as the punching bag for this “discourse”. Instead of Cruz defending Emma’s choice, she jumps in on the insults forcing Emma to walk away. Enter Nico (Roberta Colindrez), a bartender and freelance writer with whom Emma meets while leaving Cruz at the wedding. She has a lot of knowledge to offer Emma and therefore is propositioned by Emma to help turn around the bar. What began as playful flirting between Emma and Nico escalated by season’s end.
As Emma tries to get the interior of the bar to align with her and Lyn’s vision, she hires a local construction person, Baco (Raul Castillo). Baco is the embodiment of the community and is not afraid to be up front and direct with Emma. Though Emma finds this off putting, it does not stop her from using Baco as a “human dildo” when she needs to blow off steam. Baco quickly nips this in the bud and gives Emma a straight forward and necessary analysis of how she treats people. His words, coupled with all that Emma has been through, rocks her to the core and makes her come back to reality. She reconciles with Baco and discovers that he has deeper talent than she allowed herself to realize.
Also this season, Lyn struggles with the fact that her mother constantly groomed her to be a dependent woman. This mentality is a blanket that keeps everyone believing that Lyn is incapable of anything else. The first few episodes pile on Lyn as she fails at every attempt for independence yet, something has changed. She does not want to be the damsel in distress and begins to assert her strengths. As she tries to move on from Johnny, she becomes involved with Councilman Rudy Marquez (Adrian Gonzalez). The councilman is a change from Lyn’s previous dalliances in that he is Latinx, successful, adventurous, and respectable. Their budding relationship is fun and casual but it is clear that Rudy is looking for more. Though Lyn is clear in the line she has placed between her and Rudy, the line is blurred when it comes to Johnny. There will always be a special place for Johnny in Lyn’s heart but she is outgrowing the relationship. Though they can’t avoid each other in this small close-knit community, it seems that they may have had their last goodbye this season.
Lyn always looks to Dona Lupe for guidance through spirituality and ends up getting more than she bargained for. We get laser focus on each lesson that Lyn is learning. As viewers, we see that Vidalia was a free spirit who had little care for what the outcome of her actions may have been and Lyn is definitely like her mother. When Emma discovers Lyn’s credit card fraud, their relationship is pushed to the limit. Lyn is forced to take a literal hard look at herself, with the guidance of Dona Lupe, and see that she always puts people in garbage situations. Lyn spends the second half of the season trying to regain the trust of her sister and the respect from and for others. We see Lyn’s happy-go-lucky attitude develop into smart intuition and creative expression in a way that benefits not just her, but the bar and the people around her.
Mari becomes a more fixed character in Lyn and Emma’s life as she helps rehabilitate Eddy and moves in — temporarily — with Emma and Lyn. Her relationship with the Hernandez sisters becomes less adversarial and more respectful, but Mari has conflict of her own. As a young activist, she struggles with what she wants for herself and what others expect of her. When her brother, Johnny, interferes in the relationship between her and Tlaloc (Ramses Jimenez) she is forced to be on her own. We see this young woman go through the struggles of living in a patriarchal world and trying to understand her place in it as well as the possibility of change.
Eddy recovers from last season’s attack, but the death of Vidalia continues to deeply affect her. She is sinking deeper into depression and every interaction she has with Emma pushes her further and further down. Eddy is struggling with the changes that Emma is putting into bar and though she wants the bar to hold the memory of Vida, she feels that her relationship with her wife is not validated. This comes to a head when a huge secret is revealed. As she is forced to stay with her friend Rocky (Adelina Anthony) she finds out that not only is her marriage to Vidalia not legal but, the will that Vida left is not official and that Vida was still legally married to another. Eddy’s sadness turns to shock and anger. It seems that Eddy has found something inside her that may become the confidence she needs to get back in with Vida’s daughters.
Season two was a finer tuned version of season one, as it should be. Showrunner Tanya Saracho continues to craft a talented, mostly Latinx, group of women who are telling the story of this community through the eyes of the Hernandez sisters and the layered characters that surround them. Each identity is flawed, but smart enough to notice those flaws even if they have to be smacked in the face, figuratively. As season one opened up this community to us through broad shots of the city, season two took us inside. We see the struggling businesses that are being swallowed up by the gentrifiers, white and brown alike, the people on the street trying to live their lives.
The music, helmed by music director Brienne Rose, provides a soundtrack for the emotions that are felt by each character. As an intense music lover, the soundtrack ties me to a memory of life in Los Angeles while introducing me to another world.
On subsequent watches of this second season, we get immersed in all the dimensions of people. This story goes into societal expectations of the inside look on homosexuality, the discussion on gender presentation, the struggle against misogyny and the patriarchy, and what it is to be a “real” Latinx in this community. They even get into some colorism, discussing the nuance of bigotry within the diaspora; that colonization is no joke and the effects run deep in the psyche of all the generations of folks affected.
Overall, this season was fantastic. Any little kinks that were expressed regarding season one were ironed out and everyone is settling into their character nicely. The writing is realistic, gritty, and honest. The sex scenes (there are many) are sensual, messy, sexy, and a little uncomfortable as they should be because we are watching people at their most vulnerable. The actors look like they are enjoying their characters and those identities are beginning to feel lived in.
Vida Season 2 Review
Vida Season 2 Review
Starring: Chelsea Rendon, Mishel Prada, Melissa Barrera, Ser Anzoategui, Carlos Miranda, Maria Elena Laas, Roberta Colindrez