Loosely based on the 1975-1984 series of the same name, One Day at a Time follows three generations of the same Cuban-American family living in the same house. Penelope, a newly divorced former military mother; Elena and Alex, her teenage daughter and tween son; and lastly, Lydia, her old-school mother. I could tell you everything that’s great about this TV show, but first, let’s take a look at the main characters.
1. Penelope Alvarez
Justina Machado gives life to the Mom of two in the show. She’s a newly single Army Nursing Corps veteran, who’s raising her two children, Elena and Alex, with the help of her Cuban mother, Lydia. While dealing with the family stress can be quite a lot, Penelope also deals with PTSD, depression, anxiety and the show actually touches on those subjects.
2. Lydia Riera
Lydia Riera is much more than a grandmother and a mother. She’s a funny, kind, caring woman who loves dance (and teaches it) and does yoga. As someone who appreciates beauty and fitness, Lydia was never seen without makeup in public; in fact, the only person who’s seen Lydia without makeup was Elena, at her request. Although Lydia is a very religious character, she didn’t hesitate to accept her granddaughter’s sexuality when she came out to her. As for Lydia’s husband, he’s not in the picture, since he passed away prior the pilot, but Lydia constantly talks to him out loud throughout the show.
3. Elena Alvarez
Elena Alvarez is the very opinionated and outspoken daughter of Penelope and Victor. She is a vegetarian and a feminist, and she cares about sustainability. Penelope describes Elena as someone who “always stands up for the underdog.” Lydia thinks her political concerns and crusades are annoying. She’s captain of the debate team, and she loves social studies. Elena came out as a lesbian in the ninth episode, to her brother, and in the tenth to the rest of her family (with exception of her father, who only finds out about his daughter’s sexuality in the season finale).
4. Alex Alvarez
Being the youngest of the family isn’t always easy, and Alex is exactly the proof of that. Even though he’s caring, funny and sweet, Alex also cares about looking cool, his appearance and being popular — which, of course, is expected from a 12-year-old. However, this makes Alex easily influenced by his friends, especially Finn. Of course, Alex’s personality isn’t at all bad — he’s kind, knows his worth and incredibly understanding. As for his relationship with his sister, it can be teasing most of the time, but Alex definitely proves he can be supportive when it matters.
5. Dwayne Schneider
Schneider is the Alvarezes’ wealthy landlord and good friend. While he is immature at times and shown as something of a playboy, he also acts as a father figure to Alex and Elena. In No Mass, it is implied that his parents weren’t very attentive when he was a child. Schneider is a recovering addict of alcohol, drugs and gambling. In This Is It, Schneider mentions that he does outreach at the rec center, talking to at-risk youth. He overstayed his student visa and was considered to have illegally immigrated to the United States from Canada.
6. Leslie Berkowitz
Dr Leslie Berkowitz is Penelope’s boss and a friend of the Alvarezes. He doesn’t like confrontation and has trouble saying no. He has a daughter, Katie, who takes advantage of his inability to stand up for himself. Leslie is also Jewish.
Besides having amazing and positive POC representation, the show deals with mental illness, as well as social topics, such as sexism. The show also included a plotline based on Victor’s drinking addiction and has mentions of suicide attempts. As mentioned before, the show also has LGBTQIAP+ representation (Elena), and we can see the effects that coming out has — not only for the lesbian character but for her family too.
The show’s second season’s trailer was posted on Twitter on Thursday, Jan. 4, and you can watch the show’s first season here. You can also follow the show’s Instagram to keep updated on new sneak peaks of the upcoming season.
— One Day at a Time (@OneDayAtATime) January 4, 2018