“There’s nothing good on Netflix anymore.” That’s one of the first lines in S4E1 of One Day at a Time, and it’s shade of the best kind. For reasons that still baffle me and the rest of the show’s loving fanbase, Netflix cancelled its reboot of the 1975 Norman Lear sitcom after a mere three seasons. But thanks to PopTV, the sun has come out again.
PopTV didn’t have much in the way of original programming beyond the well-loved Schitt’s Creek, which is sadly coming to an end. One Day at a Time is a perfect addition to the roster. If it is Pop’s mission to bring us charming and thoughtful family comedies, it’s doing a good job of it so far.
We need this show. We need it now, more than ever. The world is increasingly scary, and we don’t know what’s coming next. Are the world’s problems going to be solved by watching a sitcom? Honestly, if the sitcom was One Day at a Time, that might be a real possibility. In the three seasons it was on Netflix, it proved it had something everyone could relate to—the Latinx community, the LGBTQIA community, single moms like me—no matter who you were, the Alvarez family could climb into your heart and make themselves at home.
It’s probably more accurate to describe this One Day at a Time as “inspired” by the original, as opposed to an actual reboot. You’ve got the single mom, and the super named Schneider…but that was a place to start. Showrunners Gloria Calderon-Kellett and Mike Royce used that concept as a springboard to take us places that are modern, relevant, and heartwarming. There’s Penelope (Justina Machado) and her two kids, Elena and Alex (Isabella Gomez and Marcel Ruiz, respectively), honourary family members Schneider and Dr. Berkowitz (Todd Grinnell and Stephen Tobolowsky), and the REAL head of the household (just ask her), abuelita Lydia (Rita Moreno). They are as tight-knit, crazy, relatable, and lovable as ever.
The season opener also brought back some guest characters we have grown to love as much as the family. Original cast alum Mackenzie Phillips still leads Penelope’s support group—a motley crew of fabulous, hilarious women. If any of them got their own spinoff, I would watch the hell out of it. Penelope had a hunky boyfriend a while back named Max (Ed Quinn). They broke up at the end of S2, and we were all longing to see more of him. We got our wish…literally. Over a dinner date with another guy, Penelope has visions of Max, naked, in her salad. Talk about inspiring someone to eat her greens. Even though he has apparently moved away, I have my fingers crossed that Max’s salad days are not gone, and that Penelope will get him back somehow. Or that she’ll switch teams and date her gay therapy friend Ramona (Judy Reyes). Either way.
Since S2, Elena has been dating her non-binary “Syd-nificant other,” Syd (Sheridan Pierce). They are nerdy and adorable, and this season has them planning for college, and worrying about how their relationship will be affected. They plan to break up before leaving for school, so as not to be “those people,” and as a test drive, they try to spend a week apart. It doesn’t go well, and ultimately they decide that being “those people” isn’t that bad after all. If anyone can make long distance work, I have faith in these two.
We also learned that Schneider’s girlfriend Avery from S3 is not only still around, he plans to ask her to move in with him. She’s played by India de Beaufort, and the fact that she’s real-life married to Todd Grinnell only makes them cuter. She’s not in the episode beyond the mention, but I’m guessing we’ll see her in person soon. The biggest bombshell was dropped at the last second of the episode—apparently Alex has a girlfriend that no one has heard anything about, including us. We’re all a little shocked that he is cheating on his grandmother, and we hope Lydia will find “Nora” worthy when they finally meet. I know I would be scared to death if that was my competition for my boyfriend’s affections (I’m kidding, I am sure Lydia will be sweet and lovely and cook up a storm in the name of Papito’s girlfriend).
So break out the rum and the ropa vieja, our beloved familia is back! There is in fact life after Netflix—the biggest challenge is going to be having to wait a whole week between episodes, instead of binge-watching like I used to do.