The Netflix sitcom, starring Rita Moreno and Justina Machado, makes an old format feel new and crucial again.
The quickest way to describe Netflix’s One Day at a Time might be “a single Cuban-American mom keeps her family together,” but that only scratches the surface of what the show can accomplish within a single episode. Every chapter finds a new way to bring relevance and life to the multi-camera family sitcom, a format that executive producer Norman Lear — who created the 1975 show that inspired this Netflix reboot — fine-tuned decades ago.
As created by Gloria Calderon Kellett and Mike Royce, this version of One Day at a Time — which came back for a second season on January 26 — tackles the joy and pain and seemingly impossible resilience of veteran Penelope Alvarez (Justina Machado) raising her family in Echo Park, Los Angeles. It tells the everyday struggles and triumphs of the Alvarez family, from teen daughter Elena (Isabella Gomez) learning what it means to be gay to Penelope’s mother Lydia (Rita Moreno) struggling to let go of her dream of returning to Cuba, her beloved homeland.
But maybe you’re still sitting there wondering how you can reasonably be expected to take on another show when you have all these others in your queue. Maybe you’re reasoning that this show feels outdated and unnecessary in the grand scheme of things, so you might as well fire up another series about a dystopian hellscape ruled by nefarious robots or whatever.
If so, here are five reasons you’re wrong and need to give One Day at a Time a fighting chance to work its effervescent charm on your cold, dead heart.