‘One Day at a Time:’ the show the world has been waiting for


Reina Makimura

Featuring a badass army veteran with PTSD, a social justice warrior with a passion for saving the earth, a brave family-loving Cuban refugee and a confident and suave middle schooler, “One Day at a Time” is certainly something special.
It’s not often that a show comes along that makes watchers laugh out loud through a flurry of tears. The show that features the antics of a family, while not being overdone or a full out sobfest, is rare. However the reimagining of a 1975 show of the same name, “One Day at a Time,” seems to have it all.
It follows a Cuban family of four – mother Penelope Alvarez, grandmother Lydia, daughter Elena and son Alex – while they navigate the tricky waters of being a Latinx family in Los Angeles. The show plays off of common stereotypes in order to achieve plenty of laughs from its studio audience, such as constant singing and dancing, and plenty of good food. The family also welcomes the well-meaning but intrusively hilarious landlord Schneider into their family, letting him barge into their home whenever he wants and becoming one of their closest friends.
Each episode brings something new to the table, including a nerdy non-binary character with they/them pronouns, and a blossoming friendship between Penelope and a car salesman. The show also tackles sensitive topics in today’s world, approaching them with respect, humor and logic. For example, the show covers gun control, illegal immigration, preferred pronouns, coming out as a teen in a religious family and addiction.
USA Today critic Kelly Lawley noted that “the depiction of a young, happy Latinx lesbian comes as a hopeful sign for many,” and that LGBT critics especially love the show. The representation on “One Day at a Time” has been long awaited in a sea of straight white actors, and this show does it perfectly.
The fact that this is a Latinx family is never forgotten, but it isn’t a focal point either. They do approach topics like racism in today’s world, but it isn’t disheartening. They are Cuban and very, very proud of it, but that is not all that there is to these characters. Penelope is smart, and studying to be a doctor, Elena is passionate about everything she does, Alex is athletic and Lydia is a confident salsa dancer. The New York Times reviewed its second season as “a show that radiates delight.”
Another bonus to “One Day at a Time” is the way that the writers and actors talk about things that hold a lot of stigma. Reoccuring sensitive topics such as Penelope’s mental illnesses and Schneider’s addiction/alcoholism are never treated like a joke. The characters are also never treated as any lesser because of the things that they deal with. This sensitivity is part of what makes the show so astounding in what it does. The characters are hilarious with their snappy one-liners and running jokes, but they themselves are never treated as jokes.
The actors have received several awards for their performances on this show, including Best Young Actor for Marcel Ruiz (Alex) at the Imagen Foundation Awards, and Outstanding Comedy Series at the NHMC Impact Awards. Critical reception has consistently praised the show, and each of these awards is well deserved.
So, pull up Netflix, and watch the next biggest hit. “One Day at a Time” is everything that both the unrepresented and the comedy-loving have been waiting for.