The Netflix update of the 1970’s television show, One Day at a Time was an enjoyable show, but more of a dramedy than your typical sitcom. Close to every episode had me tearing up at some point.
There are spoilers up ahead, but they are mostly mild spoilers. I’ll give warning if there are any big spoilers, but it is not really a show where spoilers apply. This is a family dramedy and centers around that family unit.
Rita Moreno is probably the character that is funniest, simply because of her delivery. At one point Schnieder says he needs help with salsa and she replies, “The dance or the condiment? I’m equipped for both!” Her attempts to connect with her granddaughter – a granddaughter who is politically active and very liberal – make for some of the best moments of the series.
The overall theme of the show stays true to the 1970’s version, at least hwat I remember from my childhood. Single mother raising two children after a divorce. The updates here: the soon to be divorced main character is Cuban, a veteran nurse, and her mother lives with them.
Through this newly updated lens many things are tackled by the show in a way I found really interesting. With so many other sitcoms or even dramas, things like depression, PTSD, or war injuries comprise a “very special episode” or maybe even a small story arc. With this show, those things are treated like everyday realities. Do you take the antidepressant in the hopes that you can sleep and some nightmares might go away? Or do you embrace the stigma that is attached to these types of medications? Something she tackles in episode one.
Overall, I give the series around a B-. The series could have easily been an A but there was one particularly awful episode where the main character, Penelope is dating again for the first time. This episode was so bad I was actually embarrassed for the actress having to portray Penelope – her character was manic enough that I began to wonder if the mania were the point of the episode, and no, not really. It took about three episodes after this one before I fully liked Penelope or the show again. It was that bad. Episode 4 “A Snowman’s Tale” did have some good bits in it – she teaches her son to shave because she’s going out on a date and her ex is overseas and cannot teach him. There are some other good bits, but overall, this very bad episode brought the entire series down.
This is not the show to watch if you are looking for hearty belly laughs. This is a fun show and has bits that make you smile, but it also has more than its fair share of tearjerker moments. One particularly hard episode was dealing with the deportation of a high school friend – a high school friend who moved but stayed in touch via Skype after her parents were deported.
Overall I’d recommend the show because it has great characters, it’s funny and sweet, but mostly it seems to handle tough topics with just the right amount of gravitas and heart. Also, this is a family that likes to play and likes to laugh and dance. It’s fun watching them interact and be happy with each other.
One of the themes throughout the first season is the planning for the oldest’s “quinces” – a coming of age practice I plan on researching and learning more about. Since the Quinces is for a politically active and liberally minded girl, the tables are named after prominent women in history. Penelope falls asleep trying to arrange the seating, but she falls asleep.
“The Rosa Parks table should not be in the back!” Penelope wakes up shouting after she falls asleep trying to figure out the tables and seating. All of the tables are named after prominent women, including Frida Kahlo. She’s absolutely right about the Rosa Parks table placement – putting it in the back would be very bad.