Thoughts on One Day at a Time and Recap of Poignant Season 2 Finale
The array of articles, think-pieces, twitter threads, etc., that have been written as result of the ever-growing number of TV-shows pioneering a new age in television, that are committed to embracing different cultures and communities and inclusion of these aspects, seems to increase and rightfully so, with shows like One Day at a Time providing refreshing portrayals of marginalised groups.
I am quite certain that whilst reading the intro, Netflix or any other streaming service popped into your head. These mediums have provided storytellers a solid platform to showcase their ideas by making diversity and inclusions a top priority. This commendable effort has gained Netflix critical acclaim through their content such as, ‘Master Of None’, ‘Okja’, ‘First They Killed My Father’, ‘13th’, amongst countless other content has allowed the streaming site to comfortably cement its dominance in the centre of the film and television industry.
One Day at a Time is a prime example of Netflix’s commitment to inclusivity in every aspect of the word, with topics such as, gender, sexuality, race, politics, religion, climate change, and mental health all being explored in front of a live studio audience. The show — a contemporary remake of Norman Lear’s 1970s show of the same name — manages to focus, almost equally, on the struggles of being a military veteran and a single-mother whilst her daughter comes to terms with her lesbianism, ensuing a reflective conversation amongst the family.
The show is centred a working-class Cuban-American family consisting of a single mother, Penelope Alvarez (Justina Machado), who is a nurse, her mother, Lydia Alvarez (Rita Moreno), who is a pensioner, a lesbian daughter, Elena (Isabella Gomez), and a pubescent son, Alex (Marcel Ruiz), who both attend a Catholic high school, and their exuberant landlord/neighbour Schneider (Tom Grinnell). The narrative arc of each character is fluid transcending the conventional one-dimensional stereotypical portrayal of the Hispanic/Lantinx community that has plagued television.
The reason for this is simply because the writers room is made-up of a diverse community of storytellers, co-showrunner Mike Royce stated in an interview with Vice, “We made it a priority to make sure our writers room had a lot of voices, a lot of points of view, and is diverse,” and that “Every writers room, every show I’ve ever been on, comes from people telling personal stories.” According to fellow showrunner Gloria Calderon Kellet, some aspects of the show are based off her own life which came to fruition after speaking to Norman Lear: teenage children, parents fleeing their home country, and her grandmother.
Subsequently, the show never experiences a dull moment with every tear seeming genuine and every character being given enough depth to garner empathy from the audience.
Season 2 Finale Recap
The latest season — which aired on 26th January — continued to address the usual and common topics (gender, sex, race, etc.) but there was a deeper focus on the complexities of dating, especially, for older women and immigration. However, the show was bared open in the series finale which saw the adored grandmother Lydia collapse from a stroke in the bathroom after an intense argument with Penelope. The family find her laying on the floor unconscious and take her to the hospital, upon being notified that she has been put into a Medically Induced Coma the family is left questioning what the future holds. As time passes every reoccurring character expresses what Lydia means to them until her late husband Berto (Tony Plana) returns thus Lydia is existing between two realms. They waltz in the hospital room whilst Penelope is sleeping, Berto asks, “So, mi amor, is it time?” Lydia chooses life: “Not yet.”
This heart-wrenching episode allowed every character to be seen like never before and highlighted the significance of Lydia’s character. Elena berates herself for not being able to speak Spanish well after recalling how Lydia was so accepting of her decision to come out: “I screwed myself. Because I lost my Spanish, I lost my connection to you.” Alex gossips about church and paints her nails and then there’s Penelope’s sorrowful monologue. She says, “you’re not getting a tearful bedside speech from me because I’m still mad about our fight from last night”, she uses humour to masquerade her fear of losing her mother and states all the times that she hurt her. Soon, however, she falls to her knees and professes her love and understanding for why her mother never said goodbye to her when she left for Basic training (Army) and is adamant that she will return the favour, promising that she will not say goodbye because she is scared to live in a world where she doesn’t exist. The season came to a heartfelt close as Lydia and Schneider are officially sworn in as U.S. citizens.
Final thoughts on season 2: It is important to note that the writers have managed to discuss the struggles of the current political climate without making Donald Trump the centre of attention.
Machado’s monologue in the final episode has reassured the belief that she deserves an Emmy and I strongly believe many fans of the show can agree that in this season she has been beyond outstanding, with Rita Moreno saying she’s the best acting partner she’s worked with.
Watch this beautiful show now on Netflix.