Final season of groundbreaking series ‘Vida’ celebrates Latinx culture

May 8, 2020 /

Remember those scattered feelings of contentment and rage watching the series finale of “Game of Thrones”?

“You mean that’s it? No way. We deserve one more season,” you’d say before cursing profusely, threatening to cancel your app subscription. It never happened of course, but we show-binging loyalists are known to be an emotional bunch.

Now, the final season of “Vida” on Starz has left a fiercely loyal fanbase wondering if six episodes will be enough to wrap the show properly without reaching to throw a favorite bottle of tequila at the screen.

Not to worry, says Ser Anzoategui, who plays Eddy in the series airing Sundays about the Hernandez sisters, Emma and Lyn (played by Mishel Prada and Melissa Barrera), who contend with gentrification drama and newly revealed secrets at the bar they inherited from their mother, Vidalia.

Season two ended with Los Vigilantes, activists fighting the gentrification of their Boyle Heights neighborhood, protesting outside Vida, the bar the sisters have inherited. Things get hot, and police arrive. In the end, Lyn gets doused with laundry detergent by one of the protesters. But wait there’s more, or at least there was going to be.

“So many things ended up getting cut in season one and two,” said Anzoategui during a recent phone call. “There were going to be other storylines for Eddy that ended up getting cut down to what happened in season two. We have only six episodes again in season three, but they’re a jammed-packed six episodes.”

Premiering in 2018, “Vida” ventured where few shows had only begun to scratch the surface or avoid altogether by choosing comedy over drama. Helping acquaint viewers with the hip, gender-neutral (and polarizing) term Latinx in place of Latino or Latina, the show took viewers into a world seen through the lens of writer and creator Tanya Saracho.

While not the first TV show with Latino themes  — preceded by “George Lopez,” “Cristela,” “One Day at a Time,” etc. — “Vida” is one of those rare new flores (flowers) breaking through the pop culture concrete that Latinos like me should have on their radar. Add in “East Los High” (Hulu) and “Gentefied” (Netflix) and we can’t help but get excited for the future of Latinos in Hollywood. Just imagine your mom’s determination collecting newspaper clippings of their son or daughter times 10 when we see ourselves on TV and movies. It’s a real thing and “Vida” is one of the best shows to come along in years.

You also don’t have to be Latino or Latinx to watch “Vida,” where drama and comedy is also non-gender-specific. For Anzoategui, who identifies as nonbinary (not strictly male or female and uses the pronouns they/them), response to the character of tough but sensitive Eddy, wife of Vidalia, has been overwhelming from the start.

“People will message me on Instagram and Facebook Messenger like it’s a confessional, so it’s really beautiful to see how they all connect to it, and it’s also good to hear as an actor and producer as well to know that it does matter when people are responsive. It’s not just because you’re an actor, or because you wanna make a story to create a show or a character. It does bring that much needed connection, feelings and the relief that finally we get that representation.”

Ser Anzoategui plays Eddy on “Vida,” which launched its final season on Starz on Sunday.

Anzoategui added developing their character came organically, drawing from real-life experience.

“I’ve spent a lot of time in Boyle Heights, I’ve lived there, and I was doing work there on gentrification, so it was sort of like it was perfect timing and meant for me because of so many layers that I could understand and bring to life.”

Like all the characters on the show, Eddy’s life also experiences a number of troublesome spots including homophobic violence. Through it all, Anzoategui says Eddy’s unflinching loyalty is all heart.

“People that have to be the strongest are the ones that hurt the most inside. So this really shows not only that, but how much of a sacrifice she makes to have the love of her life and to be able to care for the ones that she loves, the tenants and the community.”

Along with a big secret Eddy reveals to Emma and Lyn, the final season also features a big “queerceañera” with drag queens.

“That’s very important because drag queens have become part of our culture and part of the mainstream culture. And I’m glad we got to have some of that in there, even though it’s only six episodes,” said Anzoategui. “It’s week by week, so there’s no binging. We gotta have people savor it.”

Heading off to another audition, Anzoategui is ready to continue breaking new ground for more inclusivity in Hollywood.

“I’m pitching myself. Because there’s not a whole lot of roles like Eddy, once you play an Eddy role, you can’t play a small role anymore. You have to play something that’s meaningful that has impact, so I’m creating my own roles. It’s very important for me.”

Bravx, Vida.

Main featured photo: Mishel Prada, left, and Melissa Barrera, right, star as sisters Emma and Lyn Hernandez in “Vida” on Starz. The show’s final season airs Sunday.  Photos by Kat Marcinowski / Starz

*This article was originally published April 30 in The Bakersfield Californian.

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Matt Munoz

Matt Munoz

Matt Munoz is Project Coordinator and Reporter at Kern Sol News. He may be reached at matt@southkernsol.org.