By Habiba Iqbal
The Netflix original comedy-drama, one day at a time, is in fact inspired by its namesake series from 1975. However, this time round it’s about a Cuban-American family tacking life’s hurdles with a strong matriarch, Penelope, heading the family. She’s a newly single army veteran and she has her even stronger, old-school latin mother: Lydia helping her raise her hilariously feisty children: Alex and Elena. Together with her exuberant building manager Schneider, the family face life’s challenges and deal with issues they are faced with.
Amazingly, the show is always able to retain its charming humour while still breaking down barriers and tackling hard hitting issues, head on. From financial insecurity to homophobia- this is one show that is heartwarmingly real. It peels away the hollywood glamor fixation of family and actually depicts a real, wholesome American family. With diverse characters frontiering this sitcom- it keeps the viewers coming back for more!
One day at a time compares very well to its predecessor and retinas many of the elements that made that sitcom special. The original 1975 one is just as revolutionary and followed a single mother raising her kids. It was the first real prime television lineup that departed from the traditional nuclear family. It was astounding because it strayed from TV conventions and even portrayed a more feminist perspective especially, when it came to parenting. In fact the shows was so amazing it graced the screens for 9 whole seasons and when it ended about a decade later- it had changed the way TV families were portrayed forever more. Simply, seeing the fact there was a reboot of the show years later with the same catchy theme song is evidence enough of the shows greatness:
It can’t go without drawing the spotlight on Rita Moreno (Lydia on the show) and her Mind Blowingly amazing comedic timing and her affinity for packing a punch, with her dramatic flair. I mean in that apartment, Lydia’s room is only split from the living area by a mere curtain and everytime she yanks that curtain back to strut in like a Latin queen- you feel obliged to applaud to whatever performance you think you just watched! Lydia’s character is so lovable but still borderline crazy extra and throughout the second season she dances, smokes a cigar on the a balcony, destroys another woman’s lipstick and makes you long for such a jazzy grandma!
A odd defining standout moment for both lydia’s character and the show in general was the vicks vapour rub punchline. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s an ointment people use when they have a cold or stir into boiling water before using a towel to take up the steam to clear the sinuses. The show’s writers who are mostly latino, know very well that to cubans ‘vix’ is some magical medicinal thing that will cure: ANYTHING! Therefore, when they introduced the gag and had lydia deliver the words ‘Vicks VapoRub” in her own magical way- she made numerous universal cultures share a momentary giggle. It was amazing because this vicks thing is not exclusive to latino culture at all and it was amazing to see how similar we all were and how connected we were as minorities. What this show does well-is that it connects people of different cultures, people of all ages and people of different sides of the debate.
The show hilariously showed Elena happily introducing her friends with their preferred pronouns which left her family in a daze trying to remember who was a he, her or a their; the show had Penelope and other females talk about their depression and mental issues in a open manner that isn’t perhaps characteristic of the latino community; the show had Elena confront her father about his problem with her sexuality and heck even in a flashback episode we were shown Penelope and her husband Victor as new parents debating whether to enlist in the military post 9/11 to fight for a better world for their kids. There never has been such a great show that faces current issues we know about. Therefore one day at a time is the one show that’s in touch with this moment in time in a way, that watching it is electric!