– by Nancy Tapia

Vida is approaching its second season, and with it, the relationships between our characters will be getting that much deeper. But, in addition to just dealing with the problems of people in general, it also addresses some of the Latinx-specific problems, including those who are “other-ized” by their own Latinx peers.

It’s something that the characters are dealing with in the show, and honestly, I can’t think of very many out there that actually discuss this as openly. LRM Online had a chance to speak with Tanya Saracho, the creator and producer of Vida, and in our discussions, we touch on a lot of those aspects of the shows, as well as some of the “lost Spanish” I re-learned in my viewing.

Vida Season 2 drops on the Starz App on May 23rd!

LRM Online: Great. Well, let’s start with Vida. You’re producer, creator, and writer of this whole series.

Saracho: Yes.

LRM Online: You have a history in playwright, and is this your one genuine baby, because it’s a little different story-wise? Tell us about it.

Saracho: Well this sort of happened. It wasn’t my idea, the themes of Vida. Starz pitched them to me, and I was just doing, I was in year three, at the end of year three, of being in Hollywood writing for television, still learning when I got called in. Marco Fernandez was my executive at Starz. He said, “Do you want to write a show about gentrification, Latina millennials in East LA, and hipsters?” Those types of things were my charge. And I was like, “Yeah, I can do it.” And so, now we’re here.

Saracho: It wasn’t my seed. Marco Hernandez and Big Beach was the production company, had already been discussing it. They planted the seed and I just sort of watered it and all that. I’m going to stop with the metaphors (laughs).

LRM Online: Okay, okay, that makes sense. I actually enjoyed watching the after, making of for each of the first season episodes. You mention on there that you define the show as an American show, and that these characters are portraying an” American” story, in quotes. But this is a different kind of American story, not your typical that we are used to.

Saracho: But it a very American story, right, because the immigrant story is the ultimate American story. It’s just that when you don’t come through Ellis Island and you cross from the Rio Grande, it doesn’t get the same cache. It doesn’t get the same respect.

Saracho: So we’ve been Americans for a long time. Not me, specifically, but we’ve been Americans. We’ve been part of the tapestry, but we’ve not been part of the narrative. We’ve been missing, which, in a way, is erasure. But, hopefully with this, it’s like you start being, with Vida, you start being part of that narrative and not just in that stereotypical way, that we are cartel members, or we are only maids, or we’re only gardeners, which we are those things. We definitely are, but it’s also, we are Americans that are living lives that people can identify with.

Saracho: You have a sister, you maybe have lost a family member, you’ve come back to an old love, that’s the base of the story. But, yes, the cultural stuff is the stuff that makes it unique, but at the core, it’s a story of family.

LRM Online: Well, that’s what I like about this series, because you’re right. It is an American story. It’s like another type of American story that does happen on a regular basis that it’s not really portrayed or showed or talked about.

Saracho: Right. Yeah, because we’ve been fed what the American story is and it doesn’t look like us. But, when you live it, it does. By 2030, white culture will not be the dominant culture in the United States. That’s like a few years from now.

Saracho: So, what will be the dominant culture? I think many other-ized communities will sort of expand the population. I think the largest, I think right now the population of teenagers, it’s something like Latinx have the largest number of teenagers. That means that when they’re in their 30s they’re going to be the dominant culture, you know?

LRM Online: Right, for sure. So, I’m learning a lot in the series. I’m learning a lot of words. I speak Spanish, myself, but you forget about other words. You stick to your usual casual ones. So, I’m loving it, refreshing my brain.

LRM Online: And then-

Saracho: Like which?

LRM Online: Well, not the very good ones (laughs).

Saracho: You mean bad words?

LRM Online: Yeah. Yeah, pretty much.

Saracho: I hope that chingona is one of them and I hope that it’s not a bad word anymore. I hope it’s just empowering.

LRM Online: You know what, I think so. And then, by the way, I like Mari’s jacket how it has that, chingona embroidered yeah, I caught that.

Saracho: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

LRM Online: And then also, I loved Mari’s, I got a chance to speak to [actress Chelsea Rendon] and I loved her introducing line, being la pinche chinche, which is hilarious.

Saracho: La pinche chinche, yeah.

LRM Online: So I also come to learn, you mentioned that the series pretty much covers like four languages, English, Spanish, Spanglish, which we all know, but I had not heard of Espangles?

Saracho: Espangles.

LRM Online: So how’s that different? I’m still not, haven’t figured that one out.

Saracho: Spanglish is English with a sprinkling of Spanish, Espangles is Spanish with a sprinkling of English.

LRM Online: Ah, gotcha. See, I’m learning in this. I’m learning. So pretty much Eddy is the one that speaks Espangles, right?

Saracho: No, more like the older characters, they speak Spanish and then like the main words are in English to make sense, you know. But yeah, the older characters. Sometimes Eddy, but Eddy does Spanglish too.

LRM Online: Okay. Got it. So one of the, going back to first season, I do want to say that I really liked the scene where Emma and Mari are behind Sal, they’re in jail, and one key that stuck to me that Mari tells Emma, how does one just denounce their entire culture just to say that they can pass for white? I mean, that’s pretty strong, when Emma, it seems from her upbringing she was trying to just better herself a little, personally, career-wise oriented, versus, you know, for change. To improve, improvement for herself, right?

Saracho: Yes, that’s how Emma sees it, but that’s not how Mari sees it as selling out. As being a white-tina, which is what she calls her when they first see each other in the first episode. So it’s about perspective, right? The ones who are left have a perspective and the ones who leave have a different perspective. So I think that’s what you’re seeing there. Mari and Emma are so similar, more similar than any other two characters on the show. If Mari would’ve had the opportunity to leave she would’ve become Emma in a way. But she had to take care of her dad and leave school. But Emma gets Mari where it hurts. Where it’s, “get an education,” and that’s the thing that Mari wants the most. Yet she has to take care of her dad, so she can’t do it. She’s like a victim of oppressive patriarchy because she is such a good Mexican daughter she’s going to do what she’s told. And what’s she off to, three jobs to help her brother support her father.

Saracho: So that is very complicated, it seems very simple, but because those, Emma could’ve been, in many ways, if she would’ve stayed and Vidalia hadn’t sent her away, could’ve been Mari, and Mari could’ve been Emma, you know. So it stings, because it’s the thing Mari wants the most. And that’s the first thing that Emma uses, like, “get an education.” So offensive.

LRM Online: Yeah, for sure. But then you cover a really common topic in the Latin culture, how a lot of times the siblings, the kids, end up just canceling and stop doing whatever they have going for them to take care of the parents. That’s very common that a lot of people don’t understand.

Saracho: Yeah, it’s very culturally-

LRM Online: Sacrificing-

Saracho: And you get it, because you’ve seen it, and that’s something we want to, because Mari’s this bad chingona, activist, woke feminist, progressive. But she’s also trapped. A woman trapped in this neighborhood which has trapped the country, in a way. So yeah, I love, especially second season, I love Maris’ story. Because she’s going to be battling that, what she wants to do with her path, and then also the patriarchy. In the shape of a brother, a boyfriend, and a dad.

LRM Online: So for my last question, I had a chance to see a couple of episodes of the second season, super excited for it, so I know I have, there’s a lot to say about Mari for next season, so no spoiler, but there is a new character, Baco. Is he going to be pretty much, what am I going to say, is he going to be a big, make some changes or turmoil for the girls, the sisters?

Saracho: He’s going to be a pain in the ass for Emma, but there are three characters, three new characters in Season 2, that I’m so excited about. Baco, played by Raúl Castillo, who kinda brings that hyper-masculine energy we didn’t have first season. It’s a different point of view for the neighborhood. It supports Mari’s point of view, but it’s a little bit older, a little bit more traditional, in a different way. He’s an ex-cholo, you know. Which is not what we’ve seen on Vida. And then there is also Roberta Colindrez who plays Nico, who plays my dream girl, made in the lab, AKA the writer’s room. She’s just awesome, and she does such a great job. I can’t wait for the world to meet Nico. And then there’s also a politician named Rudy that you will meet a little later. And these three characters add new shades to the world, and they just sort of expand the world and deepen it.

LRM Online: Well I’m excited, so I only got a taste of Baco, I still have two more.

Saracho: Yeah, just wait.

Saracho: Nico and Rudy, I don’t know why these two. Nico, Rudy, and Baco and the actors that play them are so fantastic. It’s a pleasure to also introduce them to the canon to the world.

LRM Online: I’m excited.

Saracho: I can’t wait for you to binge it all.

LRM Online: Yeah, I’m gonna. I can’t wait. Tanya, thank you so much and congratulations on this. Not everybody can say they are the creator of a 100% critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

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