Although it includes classic sitcom tropes and canned laughter, Netflix’s “One Day at a Time” has reinvented the purpose and presentation of the working class family sitcom by tackling tough subject matters with the comedic essence of real life. A remake of Norman Lear’s 1970s sitcom starring a white family spearheaded by a divorced mother of two, this time around it features a Cuban-American family in Los Angeles led by single mother, Penelope Alvarez. The Latinx experience is beautifully and vividly shown through three generations, with the captivating Rita Moreno (West Side Story) as the grandmother who fled Cuba after Castro seized power, her daughter Penelope coping with PTSD, and Elena and Alex Alvarez, Peneople’s two children who explore their own identities continuously.
While the characters’ Latinx heritage doesn’t define them, it affects the way they tackle certain issues such as immigration, religion and sexuality. In season one, Elena argues with her grandmother and mother about having a quinceanera, a common Latin American party for when a girl turns 15. After exploring the reasons why she she doesn’t like the values of the tradition, Elena comes to terms with her sexuality, and gathers the confidence to come out to her family as a lesbian. While her parents are stunned at first, the dialogue between the characters are honest and true, and provides the much-needed representation of LGBTQIA+ Latinx on TV. Throughout the show, serious political topics are explored through personal experiences such as racism, mental health and the complexities of family, but never being too overbearing or preachy, taking into consideration the various perspectives of the characters (Lydia who’s more conservative, Penelope who is more moderate and Elena as progressive).
If you’re looking for laughs, tear-jerking stories and refreshingly honest and true representation, watch the first two seasons of “One Day at a Time” on Netflix. Season three is expected in 2019.