In the era of nostalgia and TV and film reboots, One Day at a Time has been a refreshing and timely re-imagining of the 1975 sitcom with a Cuban-American family and the everyday struggles they face at the center of the show. Created by Gloria Calderón Kellett and Mike Royce, the beloved and critically-acclaimed show was recently cancelled by Netflix, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still watch it. With its story of family, One Day at a Time was genuinely funny, heartfelt, and tackled a range of topics with thoughtfulness and sensitivity.
One Day at a Time follows the lives of the Alvarez family and much like the Norman Lear series, the show centers on the newly single matriarch of that family. Penelope (Justina Machado) is an army veteran who works full time as a nurse to provide for her two kids and mother. Lydia (the incredible Rita Moreno) is Penelope’s traditional Cuban mother. She is the heart of the family and the one who will make you laugh the most. Alex (Marcel Ruiz) and Elena (Isabella Gomez) are the lovable kids who come with their own set of hurdles the family must get through. Schneider (Todd Grinnell) is the wacky building owner who spends way too much time in the Alvarez apartment and Dr. Berkowitz (Stephen Tobolowsky) is Penelope’s boss and forever enchanted with Lydia.
Why You Should Watch
It is very rare to see a Latinx family at the center of an American sitcom and seeing this one serves as validation that our stories can be as relatable and worth sharing as any other family. Despite centering on the experiences of a Cuban family, the show has a way of addressing topics that feel familiar to so many Latinx people. The fact that we can see people who look like us and speak like our families is a monumental thing to see reflected onscreen.
While not trying to generalize, there are many issues that continue to be taboo in Latinx households, and this show tackles them with care and affection. Penelope’s issues with anxiety and depression and the fact that she is dependent on medication is an incredible story to see in a community where mental illness and care are so often ignored. Elena’s journey with her sexuality has been a huge moment of representation for LGBTQ Latinx folks who have struggled with sharing who they are with families who might not understand them. One Day at a Time has also tackled issues of immigration and colorism in our communities, feminism and gender norms, addiction and relationships. At the core, however, the show speaks about the power of family and how they can help us through all of the moments of our lives.
One Day at a Time is still available to stream on Netflix.