Netflix’s “One Day at a Time” makes a roaring comeback

By Kim Fleming, Round Table reporter

Netflix’s new light-hearted original sitcom “One Day at a Time” made its debut on the streaming site in early January. The show follows the story of the Alvarez’s, a middle-class, single-parent family with Cuban roots. The mother, Penelope, is a war veteran whose husband recently left to take up a job in Afghanistan.

Along with Penelope lives her mother Lydia and her two teenage children, Elena and Alex. Their landlord Schneider acts as a father figure for the children, driving Alex to his baseball games and eating dinner with them everyday.

Each character has a relatable quality that the audience can sympathize with. For example, in the first episode, Penelope describes her money troubles, explaining that her occupation as a nurse does not pay enough to buy her son five pairs of sneakers. Difficulty making a living is a common issue in America today, especially in a single-parent family.

Penelope also deals with PTSD and the woes of life after serving in the Army. Acting off advice from another woman who served, she decided to go to therapy without telling her family, as her Cuban mother does not agree with the philosophy of getting professional help, claiming therapy is “only for the crazy.”

Her daughter Elena, at a mere 15 years old, struggles with living up to her mother’s expectations while also questioning her sexuality. Near the end of the show, Elena comes out as gay and her grandmother and father are uncomfortable with her decision.

As a man set very much in his ways, Victor Alvarez thought Elena was confused and became angry with Penelope for not “telling her no” after coming out. This is a mindset shared by a multitude of people today and although controversial, I commend the show for including a character with such views.

Penelope forces herself to accept Elena’s sexuality, as she wants her daughter to feel accepted and loved no matter the circumstance.

Because she comes from such a traditional Cuban family, Elena’s mother and grandmother also want her to have a quincenera to celebrate her 15th birthday. Elena is opposed to the idea at first, claiming it is too “mainstream” and “conforming to the patriarchy” for her style. However, with some persuasion from her family, she agrees to have the party and actually begins to look forward to it.

In an episode titled “Strays,” the crew addresses illegal immigration, revealing that Lydia and Schneider both immigrated to the United States illegally. Schneider states he came from Canada, which could have perhaps been a jab at Donald Trump’s planned wall on the Mexican-American border, making a statement that not all illegal immigrants come from Mexico.

Overall, this show surprised me. It is difficult to incorporate such heavy political matters into a funny, family-oriented show, but the writers did this successfully in a down to earth, relatable way.. The plot kept the viewers attention throughout the season, introducing new topics and viewpoints often.

Each role was appropriately cast and fluent in Spanish, which sold the show’s authenticity. It was clear that Netflix was on a limited budget when it came to set design and costumes, but they did a nice job of making it seem real.

“One Day at a Time” was originally a sitcom from the 1970’s and traced the story of a family quite similar to the Alvarez’s. Remaking a show that was as popular as this is always a challenge and Netflix was successful in doing so.