‘Vida’ Takes A Different Look At East L.A. “Steeped In Queerness” – The Contenders Emmys

The forthcoming Starz drama Vida continues the evolving landscape of television when it comes to inclusive stories. Showrunner Tanya Saracho was joined on stage at Contenders by the show’s stars Melissa Barrera, Mishel Prada, Ser Anzoategul and Chelsea Rendon to talk about a queer narrative that puts East L.A. in a different spotlight that many aren’t used to seeing.
Saracho tells moderator Dawn Chmielewski that the show is about the “gente-fication” of East L.A. — the…

The forthcoming Starz drama Vida continues the evolving landscape of television when it comes to inclusive stories. Showrunner Tanya Saracho was joined on stage at Contenders by the show’s stars Melissa Barrera, Mishel Prada, Ser Anzoategul and Chelsea Rendon to talk about a queer narrative that puts East L.A. in a different spotlight that many aren’t used to seeing. Saracho tells moderator Dawn Chmielewski that the show is about the “gente-fication” of East L.A. — the…

‘First Match’ And ‘TransMilitary’ Are Among SXSW Audience Award Winners

As it wraps up its 25th anniversary edition in Austin, the SXSW Film Festival announced its Audience Award winners, with the list headed by narrative First Match and documentary TransMilitary.
First Match is a Netflix drama written and directed by Olivia Newman about a Brooklyn girl who finds her way by competing against boys in high school wrestling. TransMilitary chronicles the lives of four American transgender troops defending their country’s freedom while fighting…

As it wraps up its 25th anniversary edition in Austin, the SXSW Film Festival announced its Audience Award winners, with the list headed by narrative First Match and documentary TransMilitary. First Match is a Netflix drama written and directed by Olivia Newman about a Brooklyn girl who finds her way by competing against boys in high school wrestling. TransMilitary chronicles the lives of four American transgender troops defending their country's freedom while fighting…

‘Vida’ Review: A Strong Hispanic Cast Quickly Brings This Bold Starz Series to Life

Two estranged sisters come together to fight gentrification in Tanya Saracho’s lively series.

Dating back to the cult hit “Party Down,” Starz has seen the most recognition for half-hour series that don’t fit the mold. “Survivor’s Remorse” was a drama-comedy hybrid produced by basketball megastar LeBron James and loosely based on his experiences. “Ash vs. Evil Dead” is a horror-comedy hybrid based on the classic cult film series of a similar name and remains the most preposterously bloody half-hour show on television. “The Girlfriend Experience” is… well, no one really knows what the “The Girlfriend Experience” is because it changes every season, sometimes during the season. (It’s an anthology drama, technically speaking.)

Of course, none of these are massive hits. “Ash” is easily the most successful, given that it’s still on the air, but all three (not to mention “Party Down”) earned strong reviews and certainly had anyone who did tune in talking. They’re provocative shows built to stand out in a crowded TV landscape.

Vida” proudly continues the positive tradition and can hopefully overcome that other one. Through two episodes, Tanya Saracho’s half-hour drama-comedy combo has a loud, clear voice brought out by a talented all-hispanic cast of Latinx  characters. It’s about family, romance, careers, growing up, death, and so much more, all from a distinct viewpoint — which is fitting, given the all-encompassing implication of its title (the English translation for “vida” is “life”). All that’s to say the series could go anywhere, but it’s off to a good start in the first hour.

Living in East Los Angeles, Lyn (Melissa Barrera), Emma (Mishel Prada), and the rest of the community are boldly fighting against neighborhood gentrification (as well as internal conformity) to preserve their culture and way of life. If that macro vision piques your interest, the micro is far more relatable. Lyn and Emma are estranged sisters brought up under the same roof but who grew up to lead very different lives. Emma moved to Chicago, works a steady job, and lives a responsible life. Still living at home with their mother, Lyn loves to have a good time and isn’t above manipulating people (mainly men) to get what she wants.

Vida Season 1 2018 Chelsea Rendon

But when her mother collapses on the bathroom floor, the family is forced to make decisions as a unit. Not only do Emma and Lyn need to learn to work together, but there’s an unexpected third cog in the machine: Eddy (Ser Anzoategui) is their mother’s “roommate,” and she’s been helping run their bar, apartments, and home. With real estate developers swooping in to renovate (into God knows what), the three pseudo-family members have to decide how to best handle their inherited business — and honor the mother’s legacy.

Even though it’s predominantly about two sisters, “Vida” starts on Mari (Chelsea Rendon), a young woman in the neighborhood who makes videos of herself standing up to the man. She urges people to action while noting how the city council ignores the locals’ cries. She spray paints white businesses that take over former Hispanic spaces. She’s developed quite a following online, and it’s clear why: Rendon is charismatic, which helps make some overt speechifying go down smoothly.

“Vida” should never be lacking in things to say; it fires off socio-political commentary as fast as the quick-tempered Emma will come down on anyone who questions her heritage. Where it decides to take these characters and how well it continues to balance its broader messages with personal connections will ultimately decide if it can make itself heard in a crowded TV market. But the series isn’t a huge investment. The first season is only six episodes, and — even with aesthetically honest, sun-drenched direction from Alonso Ruizpalacios — the vivid production shouldn’t be that expensive. Starz may have another buzzworthy, hard-to-define half-hour series on its hands. So far, this one deserves a longer life.

Grade: B+

“Vida” Season 1 premieres Sunday, May 6 on Starz.

Starz Introduces ‘Vida’ and ‘Sweetbitter’ to SXSW With Sensory House Experience

It was an experience of sight, sound, smell, taste and touch at the Starz Sensory House at SXSW this Saturday, which lured attendees in with an open bar, food, and music. The event was held to help promote two new original series the network is premiering on May 6 — “Vida” and “Sweetbitter.” “Vida,” which […]

It was an experience of sight, sound, smell, taste and touch at the Starz Sensory House at SXSW this Saturday, which lured attendees in with an open bar, food, and music. The event was held to help promote two new original series the network is premiering on May 6 — “Vida” and “Sweetbitter.” “Vida,” which […]

‘Vida’ Showrunner Tanya Saracho Sets Overall Deal With Starz

Tanya Saracho, creator and showrunner of the upcoming Starz drama “Vida,” has set a three-year overall deal with the Lionsgate-owned pay cabler. “Tanya Saracho’s unique voice brings a fresh and real perspective to Latinx programming,” said Carmi Zlotnik, Starz’s president of programming. “We’re thrilled to have an overall deal with this tenacious playwright-turned-TV writer/executive producer […]

Tanya Saracho, creator and showrunner of the upcoming Starz drama “Vida,” has set a three-year overall deal with the Lionsgate-owned pay cabler. “Tanya Saracho’s unique voice brings a fresh and real perspective to Latinx programming,” said Carmi Zlotnik, Starz’s president of programming. “We’re thrilled to have an overall deal with this tenacious playwright-turned-TV writer/executive producer […]

SXSW 2018 Highlights: Visit the ‘Westworld’ Theme Park, ‘Shameless’ Bar

This year’s South by Southwest (SXSW®) conference and festival will feature screenings, panels, happy hours, a special pop-up theme park and more. The event runs from March 9 to 18 in Austin, Texas. Variety has created a list of the immersive experiences and talks to keep you up to date. We will continue to update […]

This year’s South by Southwest (SXSW®) conference and festival will feature screenings, panels, happy hours, a special pop-up theme park and more. The event runs from March 9 to 18 in Austin, Texas. Variety has created a list of the immersive experiences and talks to keep you up to date. We will continue to update […]

Starz’s ‘Vida’ Explores Gentrification of Latino Neighborhoods… by Other Latinos

Starz’s upcoming drama “Vida” shares stories of Latinos in Los Angeles, told by the Latinos — whose stories might not be familiar to a broader audience.

One issue the half-hour drama will tackle in its first season, showrunner Tanya Saracho said, is “gentefication,” the gentrification of Latinp neighborhoods by other Latinos.

A play on the Spanish word gente (which translates to “people,”) gentefication is a term used to describe the changes brought to a community when young, upwardly mobile Latinos move back to their old neighborhoods and displace less wealthy residents. Some of those Latinos are known as “Chipsters” — Chicano hipsters.

“When you open up that can of worms of us gentrifying our own, there’s a lot of story there,” Saracho told reporters at a Television Critics Association panel on Friday.

Also Read: Neil Gaiman to Lead ‘American Gods’ Season 2

The series stars Mishel Prada and Melissa Barrera as two Mexican-American sisters from the Eastside of Los Angeles who return to their old neighborhood, where they are confronted by the past and a surprising truth about their mother’s identity.

Saracho promised that the series will be faithful to the experience of the Latino community and to the Eastside in particular. From casting L.A. natives, to the all-Latinx writers’ room, to even the show’s costume designer, Saracho said she had the full support of Starz to do her show “the right way.”

Also Read: Starz Dropped by Altice USA as Negotiations Fail Over New Licensing Deal

Even with that specificity, Saracho said the show’s themes will ring true to all viewers.

“Gentrification is happening everywhere,” she said, noting that cities across the country and even oversees are facing the same problems. She noted Brazil, in particular, as a place where people are being pushed out of their own neighborhoods

But still, the show’s first priority will always be to “deal with what’s happening on the Eastside,” Saracho said.

“I truly believe that ‘Vida’ will change the cultural landscape of Los Angeles,” said star and activist Ser Anzoategui.

Related stories from TheWrap:

‘John Wick’ TV Spinoff Coming to Starz; Keanu Reeves Expected to Guest

Starz Dropped by Altice USA as Negotiations Fail Over New Licensing Deal

Starz Propels Lionsgate to Strong Q2

Starz’s upcoming drama “Vida” shares stories of Latinos in Los Angeles, told by the Latinos — whose stories might not be familiar to a broader audience.

One issue the half-hour drama will tackle in its first season, showrunner Tanya Saracho said, is “gentefication,” the gentrification of Latinp neighborhoods by other Latinos.

A play on the Spanish word gente (which translates to “people,”) gentefication is a term used to describe the changes brought to a community when young, upwardly mobile Latinos move back to their old neighborhoods and displace less wealthy residents. Some of those Latinos are known as “Chipsters” — Chicano hipsters.

“When you open up that can of worms of us gentrifying our own, there’s a lot of story there,” Saracho told reporters at a Television Critics Association panel on Friday.

The series stars Mishel Prada and Melissa Barrera as two Mexican-American sisters from the Eastside of Los Angeles who return to their old neighborhood, where they are confronted by the past and a surprising truth about their mother’s identity.

Saracho promised that the series will be faithful to the experience of the Latino community and to the Eastside in particular. From casting L.A. natives, to the all-Latinx writers’ room, to even the show’s costume designer, Saracho said she had the full support of Starz to do her show “the right way.”

Even with that specificity, Saracho said the show’s themes will ring true to all viewers.

“Gentrification is happening everywhere,” she said, noting that cities across the country and even oversees are facing the same problems. She noted Brazil, in particular, as a place where people are being pushed out of their own neighborhoods

But still, the show’s first priority will always be to “deal with what’s happening on the Eastside,” Saracho said.

“I truly believe that ‘Vida’ will change the cultural landscape of Los Angeles,” said star and activist Ser Anzoategui.

Related stories from TheWrap:

'John Wick' TV Spinoff Coming to Starz; Keanu Reeves Expected to Guest

Starz Dropped by Altice USA as Negotiations Fail Over New Licensing Deal

Starz Propels Lionsgate to Strong Q2