It was a happy day when Vida was not only renewed for a second season, but a 10-episode order meant that we’d be able to spend more time with these characters. In Season 2, we’re immediately dropped back into Emma and Lyn’s lives as they risk everything to rebuild their mother’s business.
I recently spoke with creator and showrunner Tanya Saracho about Vida‘s upcoming season, especially how it deals with the definition of family and struggling against a neighborhood in flux while trying to keep a legacy alive against all odds. Read our conversation below.
The way this show portrayed huge character developments in the most subtle ways during Season 1 made the story so real, especially with Emma. How did you achieve and maintain that delicate balance when plotting out Season 2?
Only about nine days have passed between Season 1 and Season 2, so any growth has to be minuscule. Emma’s shifts are small, yet in a story sense, they’re massive. She thinks she doesn’t make emotional decisions, but [the bar] is clearly an emotional decision. This is not a smart business move for her to take an ailing bar and basically sell everything [she has to keep it open]. At the root of it is her family and her mother. It’s not something she ever deals with directly, but we watch her trip over it episode after episode. She’s trying to ignore the mother part of it, but her mother is the bar, her mother is the building, her mother is the neighborhood.
I have to admit that the intimacy of this story makes me feel like I’m spying on these people’s lives, but in the best possible way.
From the pilot, we really wanted it to be an insider’s look, and bring you into this neighborhood. We see it portrayed in the media from the outside, but we hardly ever open the door and go inside these houses. It was really important to open the door to this neighborhood and let you in. Sometimes you’ll feel like you’re in the way or like you’re a fly on the wall. It should feel like that because it’s not an outsider’s point of view.
The bar is established as a huge part of this community. It’s a safe space for people to come together, but it’s in jeopardy with all of the change going on around it. Can you talk about that fine line between keeping the business alive and giving into gentrification?
This is the battle that the real neighborhood this is based on is fighting, and trying to walk that line. We had some consultants from Boyle Heights, these young Chipsters — Chicano hipsters — who basically open bars all around the city. We had them make us a business plan for the fictional bar with fictional numbers based in reality. They drew up a five year plan that we realized is almost impossible to achieve.
What we did in the writers’ room was go phase by phase in this plan that Emma would have drawn up because she is a consultant. Then we followed the plan for the story. It’s brilliant because the bar is probably going to fail, but they’re still putting their whole heart and self into it. That’s when you know it’s emotional. It’s not a good business decision for [Emma and Lyn] to go into business together as partners. It becomes [a way of] keeping the legacy against all odds. [This season], we get through a couple of phases of this business plan. In five years they can start making money if everything goes perfectly.
You drop a bomb in the first episode that has Emma, Lyn and Eddy questioning the definition of family. How does this revelation impact Eddy in Season 2?
Throughout the season, you will find out what makes these people family, and it’s not just Eddy. There will be another person staying in the apartment. Eddy continues to be the beating heart of this family, but the legitimacy [of her role] is in question. To Eddy, the bar is Vidalia, the building is Vidalia, and the girls are Vidalia. Eddy will fight for that this season.
From what I’ve seen so far, Mari seems to be at a crossroads. What can you share about her arc in Season 2?
I love Mari this season. We introduced her as such a badass chingona in the first season, but underneath that is a girl that is not very experienced when it comes to romantic matters. In a way, she lives under an oppressive patriarchy in her house. She loves her dad and her brother, but she’s like a substitute wife. She always has to cook and clean. She has all these responsibilities, and the reason she didn’t go back to school is because she took on those responsibilities. That’s a very cultural, specific thing — Latinas who say yes to that call when their family requires that of them.
Mari is straddling that [line]. She has woke, feminist, progressive views, but she is a Mexican man’s Mexican daughter, and she will behave accordingly. When she finds what she thinks is love, she follows some of the same patterns that she follows at home in letting it be a bit oppressive. I love watching that, and then [seeing] her being a badass out in the streets as an activist.
Do you have any final thoughts you’d like to share about this season of Vida?
We have three new characters that I’m so excited about, and the amplification of a character we met in the first season. The main one is Roberta Colindrez, who is playing Nico. She is amazing, and brings a new energy to Vida. I’m so excited for everyone to meet Nico.
Photo Courtesy of Starz