While Congress debated the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and immigration policies, Netflix released its second season of “One Day at a Time” Jan. 26, a comedy about a lively Cuban-American family dealing with everyday life but also unique matters that come with being a Latino family with immigrant roots. The show’s writers made the congressional topics more clear cut, defining what really matters, while also providing good laughs.
The first season also covers important subjects, including gender inequality, LGBTQ issues and mental health, so I expected nothing less from the 13 episodes of Season 2. The new season added new topics, including gun control and immigration.
The show demonstrated its relevance right off the bat. In the first episode, head of the household and single mom Penelope Alvarez struggles to figure out the cause of her son Alex’s behavioral problems. She later finds out they stem from Alex wanting to hide his Cuban heritage more after experiencing racist remarks from classmates.
Despite the need to cover racism in a TV show about Latinos in the current political climate, I couldn’t help but cringe at the obvious political stances taken in the first episode, which felt a little too forced for my liking. However, I still support the show’s willingness to tackle realistic issues families face. The rest of the episodes are also enjoyable and blend together heavy and uplifting scenes easily.
The rest of the episodes brought in new situations but continued previous storylines. Penelope maintains her work-life balance but is challenged when she returns to school and pursues a romantic relationship. She also deals with her children growing older and facing their own battles.
Her daughter Elena has difficulties expressing her feelings for a girl she is interested in dating and also must face her father again after a year of no contact with him following her coming out before her Quinceañera in Season 1. Meanwhile Penelope spends more time with Alex, hilariously teaching him how to save money at the movie theater by sneaking in personal food and hiding it from employees.
This review would be incomplete without mentioning the legendary Rita Moreno. Despite being recently discredited when she was identified as a mere guest by The New York Times while attending the Golden Globes, she proved herself to be the star she is through her exuberant character Lydia, the grandmother who helps hold the family together with her consistently colorful personality.
Fans suffered heartbreak watching the 13th episode, spent preparing for a tearful goodbye to Lydia, who spends the majority of the last episode in a hospital bed in a medically induced coma after suffering a stroke, leaving the family to wonder when or if she will wake up. She thankfully does and is instantly back to herself when she immediately checks to see if her nails are done, giving the audience some much needed laughter and ending the season on a cheerful note.
“One Day at a Time” has proven itself successful for Netflix through comedy and diversity of storylines. I was impressed by each character’s development and the courage to tackle controversial topics other shows wouldn’t, even if it means multiple tear-jerking scenes that keep you on the edge of your seat. Although Season 3 has not yet been announced, I have no doubt it will be soon, and I look forward to the anticipation of another season.