Norman Lear’s hit, One Day at a Time aired from December 1975 through May 1984. A liberal, Lear incorporated his views into his shows and this new hit was no exception. Its main character, Ann Romano (played by Bonnie Franklin), left her husband and moved to big-city Indianapolis with her two teenage daughters, Julie (played by Mackenzie Phillips) and Barbara (played by Valerie Bertinelli). Pat Harrington, Jr. played Schneider, the odd, childless landlord who was always on hand to fix Ms. Romano’s toilet or dispense child-rearing advice.
The show followed Ann as she raised her two girls into adulthood. One Day at a Time showed Ms. Romano dating while juggling her responsibilities as a mother and a marketing executive. The show dealt with issues like sexuality, birth control, drugs, alcohol, suicide, and the difficulties of women trying to get child support they were legally entitled. When the show ended, the daughters had their own lives and families, and Ann had found her forever love, following him to London. Schneider takes the child-rearing knowledge he learned from Ann and moves to Florida to help care for his niece and nephew.
While I knew the premise of One Day at a Time and liked it, I never actually watched the show. However, about a year ago I found out that Netflix had created a Latinx reboot of this hit sitcom. That very same day, my daughter said to me, “Mom. You have to watch the reboot of One Day at a Time. It’s adorbs.” She then told me about all the characters, saying she knew I’d relate to the Mom, even though I’m not Cuban.
The reboot introduces us to three generations of a Cuban-American family, led by a single Mom, Penelope (played by Justina Machado), who is also a military veteran and a nurse. Rita Moreno plays Penelope’s raucous and sexy mother, Lydia.
Penelope is Ms. Latina Superwoman who loves her family and Toni Braxton’s “Unbreak My Heart”. Her teenage daughter, Elena, is a radical leftist, with a heart as big as the world she wants to save. Played by Isabella Gomez, Elena is a practical foil to her little tween brother, Alex (played by Marcel Ruiz), who spends his time trying to be as beautiful and sensual as his grandmother, while also playing baseball.
Todd Grinnell plays the updated Schneider, a wealthy Canadian millennial who overstayed his visa, and thanks to many lawyers and his father, has found his way to American citizenship instead of prison. Schneider’s father buys the building in Los Angeles where the Alvarez family lives and tasks Schneider with being the building’s landlord. Schneider does do a bit of landlording but mostly works as the White guy at a Cuban table, as he pretty much lives with Penelope and her family.
The cast is rounded out by the three actors who play the characters in the doctor’s office where Penelope works. Stephen Tobolowsky plays Dr. Leslie Berkowitz, the tenderhearted Jewish doctor driven crazy by his immature grown daughter. Eric Nenninger plays Scott, the charming, yet sexist male nurse. Fiona Gubelmann plays a blonde ditz, Lori, who loves her dog more than people, including (maybe) her husband.
I have to give a special shout out to Ariela Barer, who plays Carmen, Elena’s new best friend. Carmen, a Goth Latina has one brother who’s a priest and another who’s a witch. Carmen scares most everyone, except for Penelope. Penelope gives attitude to Carmen the way Carmen gives glowers to all but Elena. The connection between Carmen and Penelope is hysterical, but Carmen’s backstory and resolution brought me to tears.
You can find the One Day at a Time reboot on Netflix, the first two seasons. I hope you find time to watch it.