Loud, loving, proud. That’s what it’s like growing up in a Latinx household. Remember watching Full House but wishing it was a little more like your wild Latinx family? Take a look at One Day at a Time, which has won multiple awards since it first aired in 2017. The Netflix Original show has earned a 98% on Rotten Tomatoes with the help of a great cast including Oscar-winning actress Rita Moreno.
Based on the sitcom of the same name that ran from 1975 to 1984, One Day at a Time is a revamp with a Cuban twist. Army veteran Penelope Alvarez, played by Justina Machado, is a single parent with PTSD who now works in the office of Dr. Leslie Berkowitz. Penelope is separated from her husband, Victor, due to his PTSD from the Army and subsequent alcoholism. With the help of her mother Lydia, played by Moreno, Penelope raises her two children Elena and Alex. While the family handles the complications of everyday life, viewers also get to know Dwayne Schneider, the family’s wealthy landlord. Schneider immediately attaches himself to the Alvarez family, finding a sense of security in its contrast with his dysfunctional upbringing. One Day at a Time follows these characters dealing with their individual issues and shows how they develop through their flaws and strengths.
With the ever-iconic Rita Moreno playing an even more iconic abuela, you know this show will be nothing but successful. Anyone who has had the intense experience of having an abuela in their lives will cackle at Moreno’s rendition of the religious, protective and strong-headed matriarch. Always looking out for her family and taking care of anyone in the apartment, Moreno will remind you of your abuela own in the most frustrating and wonderful ways.
This sitcom also does an impeccable job of acknowledging issues relevant to the present day. Sexuality, gun control, PTSD, anxiety, sexism and more are all brought up during episodes in eloquent ways. What makes One Day at a Time so amazing is the fact that it stays real. Every character has their own issues to face, handle and grow from as we watch them develop as people. The show expertly blends light-hearted comedy with a personalized understanding of the issues.
For example, there’s the episode “Hello, Penelope,” in which Penelope tries to cope with her PTSD. Although she’s been feeling great after taking antidepressants and attending therapy, Penelope decides to stop because she feels embarrassed about telling her new boyfriend, Max. The result? Heartbreaking, and all too realistic. If you’ve grown up in an old-school Latinx household, you know how hard it is to talk about mental health. But these issues are embedded in our lives and need to be talked about in ways people can relate to.
One Day at a Time is not just a great pick-me-up if you’re having a long day. It’s also incredibly important to the new generation of Latinx households consuming media. Although it plays the abuela stereotype for laughs, the show gets it right by portraying the diversity found in every Latinx home.
Being Latinx can be hard, especially when many seem so set on pointing out others not being “Latinx enough.” Pale and unable to fluently speak Spanish, I grew up being labeled a gringa. It felt like my culture could be easily taken away from me, and it was upsetting. Watching One Day at a Time reminds me that the Latinx community has a lot to work on, but a lot to be proud about.
Season three of One Day at a Time is available on Netflix starting February 8.