Starz's Vida, from creator Tanya Saracho, is set to premiere its third and final season on April 26. But just because the end might be in sight, that's no reason not to watch this heartfelt half-hour drama that is unrivaled in its authentic portrayal of grief, intimacy, and queerness in the Latinx community. If anything, it should add an urgency to catching up so you can experience Vida's final season with its family of fans. Because that's what Vida is about: family, in all of its complicated variations, and who can't relate to that?
From the series premiere through the show's final moments, the entirety of Vida's three seasons covers a short period of time in the lives of the two estranged sisters -- Mishel Prada's Emma and Melissa Barrera's Lyn -- who return to Los Angeles after the death of their mother Vidalia (Rose Portillo). Vida's death, and the realization that she was secretly married to a woman Eddy (Ser Anzoategui), become the catalyst for both of the sisters to embark on incredible journeys of self-discovery and growth as they attempt to reckon with their past and the way these traumas shaped their present, but also as they learn to forge a path forward toward creating better selves and a better future.
After returning home for the funeral, the sisters decide to remain in L.A. and take over Vida's bar, turning it into a buzzy neighborhood hot spot and a safe space for the queer Latinx community. Each sister brings to this experience a different set of baggage; Emma is burdened by her resentment at discovering the mother who sent her away as a child for being queer was secretly gay, while Lyn attempts to break free of her pattern of adapting into whatever type of person she needs to become to attract her (typically wealthy and typically white) male suitors.
Lyn and Emma each have their own complex love stories throughout the series -- Lyn with her off-and-on high school boyfriend Johnny (Carlos Miranda), who's always willing to drop everything (even while engaged to his pregnant fiancée) to be at Lyn's beck and call, and Emma with one of Vida's bartenders, Nico (Roberta Colindrez), one of the few people in the series who manages to inspire Emma to even consider letting down her guard. While both women often turn to sex as a means of distraction or asserting control, leading to the show's much-discussed and groundbreaking sex scenes, neither Lyn nor Emma have any understanding of true intimacy at the series' start. But over the course of the show, the sisters begin to allow themselves moments of raw vulnerability. And while these moments of emotional honesty with their romantic partners can be inspiring, it's when Emma and Lyn are most honest with themselves and with each other that Vida solidifies the sisters as the show's truest love story.
Though the series is ultimately the story of Emma and Lyn, Saracho and the show's entirely Latinx team of writers gives each of the supporting characters -- including Eddy, Nico, Johnny, and Johnny's younger activist sister Mari (Chelsea Rendon) -- their own deep set of challenges that make their storylines as compelling as the sisters'. It's a fully realized world where no one is the bad guy, but rather everyone is simply a person whose desires, traumas, and fears just happen to intersect with Emma and Lyn's in sometimes contentious, but rarely malicious, ways. In Vida, everyone makes mistakes but no one is villainized or beyond redemption -- even if the characters sometimes have a hard time accepting these facts for themselves.
And everything Vida has built up in the first two seasons comes together masterfully in the third. While Lyn is far from the person we saw first get dumped by her douchebag boyfriend in the series premiere, she once again finds herself in a relationship with a wealthy man, Rudy (Adrian Gonzalez), and struggles to navigate his world and his prejudiced mother, who thinks she isn't Mexican enough, upper-class enough, or just plain good enough for her son. And as Lyn finds success building up the bar, it becomes Emma's turn to spiral, losing herself in her romance with Nico before she finds her newfound emotional safety tested in more than one way. But even as the sisters are torn in different directions and old wounds threaten to dissemble their growing bond, Emma and Lyn's relationship remains at the heart of Vida, providing the show's most memorable moments.
A near perfect series from start to finish, you don't need to be part of the queer Latinx community to be moved by Vida. The show is both singular and universal, gracefully telling stories of a specific community that also cut right to the heart of the larger human experience. It's also one of the most beautiful shows I've ever seen -- in the way it's filmed, in the moving performances, and in the bittersweet storylines that capture both the hardships of life and the optimism of its endless possibilities. There is a tenderness to Vida that is evident in even the most scathing confrontations, as the characters confront their emotional wounds head-on only to be surprised to discover that they could finally heal if only given the chance.
While Vida's journey is coming to an end this spring, hopefully this is only the beginning of what will become the show's lasting legacy -- one where Vida is no longer the only series telling these stories, but is remembered as the show that paved the way for a chorus of others to follow suit.
Vida's third and final season premieres Sunday, April 26 at 9/8c on Starz.