TV Review: ‘Vida’ on Starz

The rare drama series to focus on Latino characters — who are female and/or queer, no less — “Vida” only somewhat lives up to the color, richness and excitement maybe promised by its title (the Spanish feminine noun for “life”). Starz certainly deserves a big gracias for disrupting Hollywood’s #SoWhiteMale status with this scrappy half-hour, which showrunner Tanya Saracho has said reflects her mission to introduce “the brown queer perspective” to TV (the show’s writers, directors and actors also identify as Latinx). Sporting vibrant East La La Land locations and piquant touches of magical realism, the first six episodes ultimately unfold like an arthouse-y pastiche of Showtime hits “The L Word” and “Shameless” and Netflix’s Cuban-spiced reboot of “One Day at a Time.” Meaning it’s got to find its own way if it’s going to stick around.

Newcomer (and last-minute cast-member replacement) Mishel Prada hits the ground running as TV’s latest prodigal daughter: Emma Hernandez, a stylish know-it-all whose existence as a 20something corporate whiz in Chicago is upended by her mother Vidalia’s sudden death. Returning to L.A.’s graffiti-streaked Boyle Heights — home to her family’s rundown bar and crumbling apartment building — the high-cheekboned snoot can’t hide her disdain for her humble beginnings, Mexican roots or, for more complicated reasons, the deceased. Key clue: At her mom’s wake, she gives the local mourners a hug-wary look worthy of Louise Linton.

Read more at Variety.

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