One Day at a Time - Season 3

Directed by Various Publishing House: Netflix Released: 02.08.19 Review by | January 23, 2019 at 9:00 AM
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Basically: The Alvarez fam is back and the third [season’s] a charm.

One Day at a Time is important. It’s about growth, in all its beautiful and messy glory, masquerading as a family show. If all sitcoms are loosely based on life, One Day at a Time takes that element to heart and runs away with yours in the process.

If you’re looking for a show that tackles sexism, homophobia, racism, addiction, mental and physical health, therapy, culture, and everything in between, you probably wouldn’t think to look in the family sitcom section on Netflix. But this show does it all and more, doing a tango between laugh-out-loud feelgood comedy and moments that make you want to call home.

Photo: Ali Goldstein/Netflix

In season three of the Netflix reboot our leading lady Penelope (Justina Machado) is on her way to fulfilling her dream of becoming Family Nurse Practitioner…but it wouldn’t be One Day at a Time without a few bumps, and more than a few distractions, along the road. Her mother err, we mean, older sister Lydia (Rita Moreno) said “not yet” to her final curtain call and is checking things off her Bouquet List (and her logic is profound, y’all). The doctors may have banned her from dancing after her stroke but she’s not ready to hang up her heels yet and the dance floor is better for it (long may Rita Moreno reign). Elena (Isabella Gomez) is…well, she’s Elena, except she’s head over heels in love and is becoming less and less afraid to show that part of herself. Alex (Marcel Ruiz) is now sixteen and probably needs to be a little less confident in showing himself. Schneider (Todd Grinnell) and Leslie (Stephen Tobolowsky) are perpetually present and always willing to lend a hand but even they get their times in the spotlight—no spoilers but their stories will stay with you long after they leave center stage.

What I love most about One Day at a Time is watching each character grow in their own ways. And it’s never a straightforward journey. There are slips and doubts and fiery arguments. This show has a knack for lulling you into a false sense of comfort, as they poke fun at hemorrhoid commercials Presidential addresses, white people (my god, the writers do it so well…and I’m a white people), and overprotective
mama bears. Then suddenly the laughter stops and it gets real, just for a minute, to remind you to enjoy life while you can. These scenes seemingly come out of nowhere, pulling all those subtle threads of each episode’s theme together to make you tear up every time.

Photo: Ali Goldstein/Netflix

Watching a series that so delicately details the struggles with anxiety, depression, and addiction spoke to me more than any therapy book ever has. Watching Elena and Syd (Sheridan Pierce) be awkward and adorable together is especially moving; seeing them figuring out who they are and finding their own place in the world as an openly queer couple gives me hope for future generations. And getting a family show that also includes found-family is simply wonderful.

Best of all, One Day at a Time gives us three generations of strong women. Each generation brings empowerment in their own ways, each with an updated sense
of feminism and truth, but in turn they’re always learning from each other. And
that’s amazing.

In the End: One Day at a Time is the family sitcom we all need and deserve in 2019.

One Day at a Time returns to Netflix on February 8th.