Friday, May 11, 2018

Pilot Review: Vida

Vida (Starz)
Premiered May 6 at 8:30pm

This is the second of Starz’s new half-hour dramas to premiere this past Sunday, this one not based on a book but on a short story. The family dynamic on this show is revealed to be extremely fractured quite quickly, with two adult daughters living very separate lives not having a clue that their late mother had been married - to a woman - for two years. This is a show that tackles gentrification head-on with a complex approach, showing Emma as a woman who works a high-stakes job and carries around an iPad returning to a world that doesn’t quite operate in the same way. Opening with Marisol recording a video protesting the way the neighborhood is evolving was effective, especially since we didn’t see her later until she almost came to blows with Emma, who chastised Lyn for not bothering to learn Spanish and angrily pointed out to Marisol that the establishment could probably use the business that would come from the hipsters’ spotlight. Adding Eddy into the equation complicates everything, and ending the episode with Emma and Lyn crying while watching a video of their mother singing and dancing with them when they were kids highlighted the emotional attachments that they’re going to have to process. Unlike “Sweetbitter,” which premiered right before this show, this one doesn’t go crazy with the gratuitous content, showing Lyn and her ex having a passionate but ungraceful encounter on the stairs and not dwelling on it. This show has some serious potential - even if I won’t be watching, I’m impressed.

How will it work as a series? We don’t yet know if Emma is going to stay since she has her job to get back to, but I presume that, even if she does depart briefly, she’ll be back for good soon enough. Eddy seems to be taking the death the hardest but is also the most compassionate of the three, and so seeing them get used to her being around and having opinion should be interesting.
How long will it last? This show pulled in much better reviews than “Sweetbitter,” scoring 100% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and a 76 on Metacritic. I think its focus on the Mexican-American community in this gentrifying neighborhood should give it a leg up in terms of its renewal chances, and Starz is fine investing in half-hour dramas, which makes this series a good bet to continue to season two and possibly beyond.

Pilot grade: B+

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