Be Nice This Could Be Your Family
The new Netflix series One Day At A Time is not your grandma's reboot, it is a warm, loving tribute to old and new family dynamics. From Abuela Lydia played by the still dynamic Rita Moreno to the updated hipster-with-issues Snider, portrayed by Todd Grinnell, this family is as crazy and wonderful as you can imagine. With the tough, sweet, Army vet mom Penelope, played by Justina Machado, and the two outrageous kids, Elena (Isabella Gomez) and Alex (Marcel Ruiz) this family, both blood and extended shows the beauty of a birth family and the one you pick up along the way. Although Snider starts out as a needy, goofy, hipster, he becomes a strong and caring male figure for Alex and a pillar of support for Penelope. Grandma Lydia shares wisdom, sauciness, and lots of heartfelt love for her family. These two characters, although supporting ones help keep the family together, with the support of the father gone.
During the run of the series, an ongoing plot is Penelope Alvarez's need to deal with her PTSD from being a combat nurse in the Army. From fights with the VA (episode 7, my personal favorite) to dealing with a messed up shoulder and nightmares of her experiences are two reminders of her trials under fire. During the course of the show, Penelope goes from just toughing it out to getting real help for her problems. Showing the realistic fights from her cultural and religious upbringings it's an honest heartfelt journey of what happens when a vet chooses the right path, and as the series progresses, what can happen when a vet takes the wrong one.
Dad Versus Snider
Penelope, as a single, working mom (she's a hard working nurse) deals with a lot. From her progressive, independent, daughter, vain, self-centered son, and firebrand of a mother our hero has a lot to deal with. However, her landlord/fix it man/resident goofball Snider shows that he can be reliable and wise in his own unique way. This becomes important to the storyline especially after Penelope's estranged husband Victor comes home. As we learn Snider's character through his active role as extended family, we learn much of Victor through his absence. Described as a combat vet who never sought out help or recovery, when he arrives he has to deal with the new family dynamic.
Abuela Versus Everybody
Rita Moreno's Grandma Lydia, aka the Abuela ( the Spanish term for Grandma), is at various times everyone's greatest champion or their worst enemy. A deeply religious and proud Cuban woman these things, which more than once create the part of the comedy and the conflict in the series, also are the character's greatest strengths. And although she can be opposed in different ways to the ideas and choices made by her family, when she does come around she the families fiercest protector and advocate.
Politics American Style
Bringing up issues from immigration and coming out of the closet to Che Guevara and the plight of the veteran, we see that political and social lines are not always where we think they are. Much like the Netflix and Marvel's Luke Cage series, One Day At A Time uses people that could be in anyone's family in situations that have affected the past and present for these characters. Several times they also find ways to connect them. Combining the concepts of accepting a child who has come out, the degrees and issues the family deals with, connects to a PTSD situation is an example of good storytelling without preaching into a political beat down on the audience.
As Binge Worthy As Grandma's Breakfast
With nods to the original from the updated version of the theme song, sung by Gloria Estefan, and a cameo by one of the stars of the original series, Norman Lear and the Netflix production team have revived this series with much of the warmth, heart, and outrageousness of the original. One Day At A Time, is a truly terrific show, and although it may not be everyone's cup of Cafe Bustelo, it is a genuine charmer for the teens and up in the family.