Quietly and without much fanfare, STARZ network has become a real destination for inclusive programming. Its pirate drama, Black Sails featured the love story of not one, but multiple LGBTQ couples, and had a QWOC leading lady in Max. Recently cancelled Survivor’s Remorse featured Erica Ash in its ensemble as M-Chuck, the lesbian cousin to lead, Cam. American Gods includes QMOC involved in a relationship and is lead by Ricky Whittle. New show Sweetbitter features a lesbian bar back named Ari, and a Russian gay man named Sasha. Take My Wife (starring real life couple Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher), which was homeless after the Seeso Network folded, found a place for S2 on STARZ. The show features lots of queer, non-binary and trans characters, on screen and in its writing room and crew. I’m not sure where STARZ has been all my life, but I’m all in now.
If I wasn’t sold on a subscription to STARZ already, new original series Vida sealed the deal. The show, created by queer Latinx showrunner, producer and writer, Tanya Saracho, tells the tale of two estranged sisters who reconnect after the sudden death of their mother. Emma (Mishel Prada) is an icy businesswoman who lives in Chicago now, and harbors deep pain regarding her mother, who she will never get the chance to reconcile with. Younger sister Lyn (Melissa Barrera) was closer to their mother Vida, but remains aimless in her business endeavors and relationships.
When the sisters arrive in LA for their mother’s funeral, they meet the butch bartender Eddy (non-binary actor Ser Anzoategui), who ran their mother’s bar and was also her “roommate.” It’s not until later that the sisters find out that Eddy was actually their mother’s wife of two years, a fact that sends Emma spinning.
She calls her mother a hypocrite, which we can assume has to do with her mother’s reaction to her own queerness. Well have to wait and find out, but we know that Emma’s old flame, Cruz (Maria-Elena Laas) is still in town and runs a coffeehouse. When Cruz shows up to pay her respects to Emma and Lyn, the chemistry is still there between the former loves.
The pilot episode of Vida sets us up for a hell of a ride, where we are introduced to not only one leading LGBTQ character, but two and even more in supporting roles. That’s an exceedingly rare thing, especially having a leading character who is masculine of center. What’s also rare and vital is the focus on the queer Latinx community, which has all too often been relegated to the side lines. The writers room for Vida is entirely Latinx, a first, and includes many LGBTQ creatives as well. It’s a game changer that’s long overdue. That’s also why it’s especially important to support Vida, because if you have ever turned on your TV and saw yourself reflected back, think about what it’s like for folks who haven’t had that experience. Representation matters, we all know that. Support matter too. You can get a subscription to STARZ for $7.99 a month. Even if you are just watching Vida and Take My Wife, that’s less than $1 an episode. This is the future of representation, one where inclusion and intersexuality are not just highlighted, but a given.
Check out the trailer here. (It’s NSFW, so make sure those headphones are plugged in.)
New episodes of Vida air on Sundays at 8:30pm EST.