PASADENA, Calif. — Tanya Saracho had trouble containing her glee at a Television Critics Association panel for her new Starz series, Vida (due May 6), a half-hour drama about two Mexican-American sisters who return to their old neighborhood in East Los Angeles.
"We don't get to do this," she said of presenting a show told from the perspective of "brown, queer femaleness."
Saracho, whose credits include HBO's Looking and Girls and Lifetime's Devious Maids, said Vida is "Latinx, but it's a queer show." The show's story "is my vida, my life."
She praised Starz for the creative freedom she has been given with the show, which includes such timely topics as "Chipsters" (Chicano hipsters) and "gente-fication," or the return of upwardly mobile Latinos to their old neighborhoods.
"I wanted an all-Latinx writers room. All the directors are women of color or Latinx," she said. "My (collaborating) executive at Starz has a 'z' in her last name, Fernandez. There, I don't have to be a cultural ambassador."
Vida is another step toward more representational programming, but there is still a long way to go, Saracho said. "We make up almost 20% of this country," but are represented on only a tiny fraction of TV shows.
Despite the specificity of the story, Saracho said, "There is a universality to two sisters coming home," where they learn a surprising truth about their mother's identity.
Melissa Barrera, who plays one of the estranged sisters, said Vida is timely when people with a dual identity, such as Mexican-Americans, are being reminded "they are not home."
"If you abide that this country was made up by the children of immigrants, that's what this show is," Saracho said.