One Day At A Time, Netflix’s reboot of the '70s classic sitcom, premiered on Jan. 6 to much praise for it’s authenticity and relevant storylines. The reboot, like the original is about a single mom and her two kids, the difference being that the family is Cuban-American and the single mom Penelope Alvarez (Justina Machado), is a veteran.
What stood out to me from the very first episode is how much I recognized the conversations between Penelope’s teenage daughter, Elena (Isabella Gomez) with her mom and grandmother, Lydia (Rita Moreno). The first episode featured a storyline about whether Elena should have a quinceañera or not, making it a perfect opportunity to see where the three characters stood on the topic.
Penelope wants her daughter to have the party because they are Cuban-American even though she admits to the tradition’s problematic beginnings, and Lydia couldn’t imagine a world where they didn’t have the party, while Elena is determined not to go through with it because she does not agree with it’s patriarchal beginnings.
At the onset of the episode I feared that because this is a sitcom after all, the Elena character was going to be a feminist trope used as a punchline. But I was pleasantly surprised to see that Elena’s character was multidimensional, along with all of the other characters, which helps the show create an interesting space for sitcoms.
Their conversations on the topic of quinceañeras reminded me so much of the conversations I’ve had with my own Latinx family, and the same conversations my friends tell me they have with their families.
The end of the episode seemed to be a great big hug of appreciation for those kind of conversations between Latinx generations. It’s such a breath of fresh air. It felt like the genius behind Que Pasa U.S.A.,but going further than laughs by concentrating on characterization.
I won’t tell you how the episode ends, even though I really want to, but I will say that it does a really good job of showing how feminism shows up in different ways and how even when your family has drastically different views and experiences, through conversation it is possible to understand how the different women in your family have had their own struggles with the patriarchy in their own contexts.
Just the first episode reminded me of where I could stand to be more open with the women who raised me and from what I’ve been reading, the show continues to put importance on the quinceañera plot line throughout the first season, as well as features new characters in the form of Latinx goth brujas, and queer storylines.
So, I am really going to savor this one.
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