Vida so intimately and accurately portrays the complications of sisterhood that it’s easy to feel like you’re also one of Vidalia’s daughters, making Starz’s cancellation of the series incredibly heartbreaking.
Since their mother Vidalia’s passing, sisters Emma and Lyn have been trying to clean up her mess. From revitalizing their mother’s bar in a gentrifying East Los Angelos to piecing together lies she told them and her “roommate” (read: partner), the sisters have been thrown into disarray while trying to grieve the person that they learn they may not have known so well.
Premiering in 2018, Emma returns to East LA from Chicago and Lyn from San Francisco. The two couldn’t be any more different: Emma is a type-A personality who covers any ounce of vulnerability she has with a cold and distanced front. Lyn leans more on the bubbly, very vulnerable and optimistic side of things. To cohesively move forward in major decisions for their mother’s estate, the two have to meet half way. This is the major struggle between the two sisters throughout the three-season series.
Emma tends to get ahead of responsibilities swiftly, often opting that they wipe their hands of most of Vidalia’s endeavors while Lyn tends to stall a bit in making decisions until she can confidently stand behind them. From whether they should keep their mom’s fiscally failing bar to if they should remain close to their mom’s partner Eddy, who is also grieving, moving forward is often a drawn out process that forces the two to better learn each other and confront the impact of their mother’s death head on.
What’s beautiful about seasons one through three of the Vida is experiencing the duo’s growth as a unit. Though not easy, the two leave their previous cities to settle down in East LA and run their mom’s bar, which they rename Vida’s. Both sisters have a shit ton of their own drama to deal with individually, on top of adjusting to their new lives.
Emma reckons with her own difficulties accepting her queerness after a lifetime of trauma surrounding her mom’s homophobia (and later her mom’s queerness of her own), and she struggles with finding her place within the queer community as a bisexual woman that isn’t always accepted for the fluidity of her attractions (relatable). It’s clear her stone cold outwardness is a result of her vulnerability and softness being taking advantage of.
Lyn on the other hand can’t help but be upfront with her love and care, often to fault. She wrestles between letting her heart and her mind lead; when her heart leads it’s often at her own expense in relationships with men that don’t reciprocate what she gives.
All the while, the sisters have to stick together more than ever, as many of their Latinx peers see their revitalizing their mom’s bar as gentification, a gentrification by their own people.
Through love and loss, Emma and Lyn continue to choose each other. As much as people say family is forever, family is very much so a choice, especially for queer folks. Lyn often let her personal strifes come before her responsibilities at the bar and Emma just as often created a strong disconnect between herself and her coworkers when she was stressed (which was often), making it difficult for folks to work with her. She struggled to let people in. But by the end of the series, we see the sisters become increasingly better at addressing their faults and shortcomings, with themselves and with their lovers.
Starz’s cancellation of Vida ahead of the third season left a lot of wounds open. We never see Emma and Lyn on the other side of their struggles. We gain an appreciation for their journey and how far they’ve come—a reminder that the destination is rarely the most important part of our stories.
Emma and Lyn being forced to forgive their mother after her passing, though it took time, sets a sort of precedent for their relationship with each other. Though they accept who each other are, they also never stop expecting more of one another. The rifts and inconveniences they experience individually and as a unit test their bond in a way only a sister’s love can withstand.
We may not see more of their story, or maybe we do? One Day at a Time being picked up by Pop TV is an ounce of hope in a film establishment that undervalues stories about people of color. Still, I’m grateful to have been taken along these sisters’ story. Sisterhood isn’t as easy as it looks; Emma and Lyn’s relationship is a reminder that choosing each other amongst conflicts and disagreements can be worth it.