Ser Anzoategui (‘Vida’) would make Emmy history for non-binary actors

Starz‘s half-hour series “Vida” aired its critically acclaimed second season in May and has already been renewed for a third. And thank goodness because that means we will get to see even more of Ser Anzoategui‘s performance as Eddy, whose character arc was season two’s most compelling. While Emma (Mishel Prada) and Lyn (Melissa Barrera) are the series’s protagonists, Anzoategui’s Eddy is its emotional core and a nomination for this performance would be historic.

In 2017, following an impassioned letter from Asia Kate Dillon (“Billions“), the academy determined that non-binary actors could choose to place themselves in whichever gender category they wish. Anzoategui (who, like Dillon, identifies as non-binary) has chosen to compete in the Best Comedy Supporting Actor race, and if nominated they would be the first non-binary performer to score an acting nomination. The same would be true of Dillon, who is an Emmy hopeful for Best Drama Supporting Actor.

“Vida” revolves around Emma and Lyn’s attempts to keep their late mother’s bar (also named Vida) in business while trying to navigate a tricky personal and business relationship with their mother’s widow Eddy. Much of the conflict involves Emma’s wish to update the bar to entice a broader clientele, while Eddy wants the bar to remain a safe space for queer women to gather.

Eddy’s journey in season two is one of healing, or at least trying to heal. She begins the season emotionally and physically broken following the vicious beating she suffered at the end of season one. She is bedridden and unable to care for herself, but the pain of her broken bones is compounded by the broken heart that hasn’t healed since the death of her wife.

And just as she’s finished healing from her physical wounds, she is hit with an emotional double whammy. First, Emma reveals that Eddy’s marriage to her mother was never made official, leaving Eddy with no legal rights to the bar. Then she discovers that Vida’s first husband was not deceased as Eddy was told, and that Vida was still legally married to him at the time of her death.

Anzoategui is mesmerizing throughout the season as Eddy must sit back and watch her life with Vida fade away. Each change in decor, each new paint color and each new appliance registers as another stab of pain on the actor’s face. Anzoategui takes the simple act of smelling Vida’s clothing and imbues it with as much emotional depth as a monologue. It’s a quiet and raw performance, authentic in its depiction of grief. It’s also a new take on a character that has often been reduced to a type: the butch lesbian. Anzoategui’s performance is too textured to be contained by any stereotype.

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