‘One Day at a Time’ shows growth in third season

Written By Amanda Myers, Co-Features Editor

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The sitcom format has become a troupe of TV that often assumes the form of cheesy, forced laughter.  With “One Day at a Time,” however, Netflix finds a comfortable spot for a rebooted sitcom that is accessible for all generations.

Now on its third season, the show has proved a propelling force in an area of increasing acceptance when it comes to issues like sexual identity, anxiety and alcoholism that are tackled with a straightforward approach that doesn’t undercut the real meaning of the material.

Norman Lear helmed the original that ran from the mid 70s to the 80s, and returns as an executive producer for this modern take on an immigrant family fighting through personal struggles and those that society has placed upon them.  Earlier seasons of “One Day at at Time” ate up the narrative of the Trump administration, tackling what it was like for the Cuban family to be told to “go home.” For its third season, a heavier emphasis is put on the identities of our beloved characters as they fight for their own voices to be heard.

Justina Machado, who plays veteran and nurse in training, Penelope, has been the star of the show since the get go, even when basking in the light of the legendary Rita Moreno (Penelope’s mother Lydia).  After finding love and losing it in the wake of her divorce to husband Hector, Penelope must wrestle with what she really wants out of life. Does she need a boyfriend to be happy?

The support group she attends with her fellow veterans is also given more screen time and taps into issues of anxiety and depression.  Lydia, whose blood is stronger than Cuban rum, would play it old school and disregard these feelings, but Penelope faces them head on and communicates with her children.

Daughter Elena is more confident after coming out as gay in the first season.  Her character often feels like a PC spokeswoman from the depths of Tumblr – like when she confronts her brother Alex with the issue of consent after the family discovers an alarming post on his Finsta.

For all of the applicable material that is covered on the show, what stands out the most is the fact that the lighter moments are just that – light.  Lydia takes marijuana infused lozenges at the opera, Penelope’s boss Dr. Bekowitz plays spy at a family dinner. No matter what nationality you are, you are lured in by the family dynamic.

Neighbor Schneider is constantly coming over for a reason. An absent father figure and a lineup of step moms has left him disconnected to reality, but when he goes over to the Alvarez’s, he is welcomed instantly.  His attempts at being more Cuban are playful and don’t come off as offensive because there is a genuine love all around.

I know I sound corny right now, but corniness can be a good thing every now and then.  Even when the political infrastructure is crumbling around you, if you have a family to come home to at the end of the day, then you have something worthwhile.  And “One Day at a Time” reminds us of that with each passing episode.

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