“Vida” creator Tanya Saracho made sure that her series about Mexican-American women was also reflected behind-the-scenes.
Now in its second season (9 p.m. Sundays on Starz), the half-hour drama, which follows two sisters, has one of the most unique productions on TV — with a writers room that’s all Latinx, the gender-neutral term for “Latino” or “Latina,” and nearly all women.
“I’m getting a lot of attention for that, but ‘Atlanta’ just did it — that has an all-African-American writer’s room,” says Saracho, 42. “When you’re building just a Latinx story, [it’s right] to have the make up of the room reflect that,” says Saracho.
“Thankfully that first season, I never got told ‘no’ about those big things,” she says. “So when I was ready to come and fight for that, I didn’t even have to. That has a lot to do with the success of the show.”
Saracho, who grew up both in Mexico and in Texas, is a playwright who’s also written on shows such as HBO’s “Looking” and ABC’s “How To Get Away with Murder,” but “Vida” is her first time as a showrunner and creator. She says it’s been a time of personal growth between the critically acclaimed first season and Season 2, which premiered Sunday.
“The first season I was just learning to be the final ‘yes’ or ‘no’ of things [and] that was scary,” she says. “The second season I became more decisive, something that happens to women when they’re given control. It felt great to be able to be like, ‘Yes, I commit to that, or no, I commit to that and I stand by it.’ I was doubtful a bit in the first season, and now I’ve got it. To me, personal growth-wise, it was huge.”
Set in sun-drenched LA, “Vida” is about sisters Lyn (Melissa Barrera), an impulsive wild child, and Emma (Mishel Prada) — who’s uptight and closed-off — as they must come together following their mother’s death. Since Season 1 consisted of only six half-hour episodes, it can be viewed as a “three-hour pilot,” Saracho says.
“Their essences, their backstory — that just sort of got introduced. Now in Season 2 [which was expanded into 10 episodes], I could give them obstacles, scratch them up a little more,” she says. “Now you know who Emma is, so let’s get some of those guards she has up down. And then what happens when Lyn really sets an objective and wants to boss up and be an adult? Because of her behavior in the past, no one believes her.”
Saracho adds that while the first season lingered on Emma’s emotional damage from the sisters’ mother, Season 2 will dive more into Lyn’s history.
“In the first season we saw Emma’s core damage and this season we see Lyn’s and how being told she’s ‘the pretty girl’ was so damaging all the time,” she says, “because her intelligence and ability were dismissed.”
But while Season 1 won critical acclaim, including a 100 percent score on review-aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes, Saracho says she hasn’t relaxed yet for Season 2.
“We’ve never had a Latinx-themed prime cable show — it’s a new model to bring [in] an audience to watch the show,” she says. “We’re not a niche show. It’s about a family and relationships. So I’m anxious how to convince the dominant audience that you will find something in this show.
“It’s new ground to cover.”
“Vida” 9 p.m. Sunday on Starz