Saturday, April 20, 2024

A Tale of Two Parties: Vida’s S1E4 Keeps the Heat

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Remember last week on Vida when Emma, Lyn, and Eddy almost bonded and then Emma brought out her power trip side with both Eddy and Lyn? And then Lyn brought out her frivolous-lifestyle side by pocketing some pre-approved credit cards she found in Vidalia’s piles of finance-related stuff? And Eddy was actually just perfect?

All that is taken up a notch this week, with the added bonus of Characters Confronting Hard Realities. Aka Good Dramatic Television.

We open on Lyn, alone in her childhood bedroom surrounded by nail polish and jewelry. She sends a string of desperate texts to Johnny, who is finally doing what he says he will and not responding to her. Lyn is not ok, so she turns to the external. First, she grabs an old t-shirt and cuts it into a sexy dress. Then, she checks her phone to find nothing. Next, she grabs those credit cards and heads to the expensive hipster side of town, where she buys literal bags full of clothes from fancy boutiques before spotting a Bohemian™ White Dude in a coffee shop and heading inside.

Immediately, she’s accosted by an employee who asks if she wants her photo taken against their insta-wall. Both Lyn and the barista get really excited about this. I, however, cringe because this is the truth of what it is to participate in the culture of so many neighborhoods in so many cities, distilled into this moment. The playfulness that is hitched to the stark reality of gentrification, the colorful ways in which racial and economic divides are perpetuated in the modern day. Lyn wants to play, too. She wants the Instagram life, just like so many of us do. And she’s particularly vulnerable right now, so she’s going hard.

She flirts her life away to this Dude, who is ostensibly in town on a work trip, and he invites her to a party at his buddy’s house in the hills. Away they go to the gaudiest house in the world, filled with white people with zero concern for anything except where to vacation next and complaining about the quality of the drugs they’re taking.

In the house, there is a woman named Aurora. She is the maid. She is Latina. And, she is invisible to almost everyone there, but not to Lyn.

Watching Aurora clean up after these asinine adult children is infuriating, as is hearing the comments of “that’s what she’s here for, it’s her job” coming from their mouths. Lyn tries to ignore it. But of course, she can’t. As she rides the bus home, sitting a few rows behind Aurora, she looks like she’s finally realized that no matter how hard she pretends, things can’t keep coming so easily for her. Money, men, family. Let’s call this S1E4 Heartbreak #1.

Related: this show is visually stunning.

Should we move on to S1E4 Heartbreak #2? Cool!

This one’s about Emma. She has a Skype meeting with her White Dude Underlings while wearing a nice jacket and no pants, which makes me love her (more). The White Dudes are, unsurprisingly, the MOST annoying. They wonder why it’s taken a whole 6 days for Emma to get over her mom dying/work out whatever she needs to in LA, because her job is more important, obviously. Emma has this look on her face like she’s been dealing with White Dude Bullshit 5ever and is so over it. Still, she speaks assertively about her needs while also promising to do what she can to work remotely and get back to Chicago ASAP. But, there are a lot of things she needs to do here, first.

The first thing on her to-do list is to “fix” the bar. Agenda item 1: remove the La Chinita sign. As Emma and Eddy gaze up at it, discussing its particular brand of racism, Emma convinces Eddy that the argument that it “honors the Japanese culture of the neighborhood” is weak, considering it’s a Chinese girl, and that it needs to go. Eddy agrees, but wonders what they’ll call the bar instead. In comes Lyn with a great idea: call it Vida’s, that’s what everyone calls it anyway. Eddy is immediately on board, but Emma is never not mad at Lyn, at the entire situation she finds herself in, and at her mother for hurting her. So, she shuts Lyn down and storms off.

Regardless, Eddy gets a friend to come take down the sign. As that’s happening, Mari rolls up on her bike. The two discuss the racism of the sign vs. the racism of gentrification and this never happens on TV?! Eddy promises she’ll never cater to the hipsters.

Emma, on the other hand, is fine with catering to hipsters. She goes to another nearby bar that night to do some competition reconnaissance. And who is there but everyone’ favorite cute lesbian, Cruz. Cruz works her charms on Emma, folding her into her group of fabulous friends, all of whom I immediately love, as they drink, dance, laugh, and have a great time.

Death by cute.

Then there’s a moment, a reckoning of sorts. In a corner by the bathroom, Emma tells Cruz about the two times Vida sent her away to live with her aunt in Texas. The first time, she was 11, and had been caught kissing another girl. The second time, she was a teenager, and Vida found Emma’s journal entries. “Why did I even think I could keep a journal?” Emma asks, and I cry. Then she tells Cruz that all of the entries were about her. I DIE. It’s not that any of this is a huge surprise, it’s just so devastating. The ways love destroys people and builds them back up.

And so we are led to Cruz’s apartment and the second hot af queer sex scene in as many episodes. Emma and Cruz are going at it, but before they get too far, Emma has a panic attack. As Cruz runs to get her some water, Emma stumbles out of the apartment. She manages to make her way back to the bar, where Mari has spray painted Chipsters on the window in the midst of her own pain peak. Emma sits on a bench outside the entrance, and lo and behold, the ghost girl from episode 1 is back. She’s next to Emma on the bench, then she’s on the other side of the gate to the stairs, running up them. But Emma doesn’t follow. She’s had enough for one night.

Lastly, Mari. Mari is such a badass, yet she’s so young and the patriarchy is cruel to young womxn, especially young womxn of color. In this case, the patriarchy takes the form of Tlaloc, who recorded Mari giving him a blow job last week. Somehow, despite his ardent claims that it was not his fault, this video made the rounds to everyone in their activist community. Mari is the last to find out, as her phone dies at work and she doesn’t get a chance to charge it until she’s already at the meeting at Tlaloc’s house.

One of the worst things about this scene is that all of the glances, the judgmental looks, the scorn of the people in the room are thrown right onto her. She doesn’t know what’s going on, but Tlaloc is not shamed or ostracized. He’s not even the target of angry looks. He leads that meeting with confidence while Mari suffers the consequences of his actions. Later, Tlaloc tries to convince her that he only recorded it for himself, and his roommate must’ve gotten a hold of it. Mari doesn’t buy that as an excuse, which it’s not. She may be heartbroken but she’s not blinded. He never got consent from her, either to record or to engage in sex acts in the first place. For the time being, at least, Mari is not forgiving him, and I really hope she doesn’t.

You deserve better, Mari. Just hang out with Eddy all the time, can’t go wrong with that.

That’s about it! Very little Eddy in this episode, which is sad, but there’s only so many minutes. We did get some huge character development for Emma, Lyn, and Mari, though. This show! My heart! Can’t wait for next week, even though it’s the season’s penultimate episode, but let’s not think about that.

Images Courtesy of Starz

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