Friday, January 13, 2017

One Day at a Time Season 1 Netflix Series Review

One Day at a Time (2017-)
Season 1 - 13 episodes (2017)

Watch One Day at a Time Season 1 on Netflix
Executive Producers: Mike Royce, Gloria Calderon Kellett, Norman Lear, Michael Garcia, Brent Miller
Starring:  Justina Machado, Rita Moreno, Stephen Tobolowsky, Todd Grinnell, Isabella Gomez
Rated: TV-PG

A re-imagined version of the '70s series by the same name with a Cuban-American family. In this sit-com a divorced mother raises a teenage daughter and son with the help of her mother.

This is a traditional family sit-com that mixes comedy and emotion while exploring family dynamics in self-contained episodes. The jokes are simple and mostly on the nose, but it frequently  tackles strong topics like sexism, religion, immigration, and dating.
Justina Machado and Rita Moreno are great. This is the best of Netflix's traditional sitcoms, though their competition is only The Ranch (my review) and Fuller House (my review).
It depends.

While I'd prefer a more dramatic, twisting narrative like Black Mirror (my review) or Travelers (my review), if you want a traditional family sit-com that's willing to tackle larger issues, this is it.

Justina Machado
Penelope (Justina Machado) is a veteran and nurse that lives in an apartment with her mom Lydia (Rita Moreno) and two kids. She's frequently portrayed as a woman in a man's world. In the second episode a male coworker walks over her idea and the boss discards it. The next day the male coworker presents it as his own and the boss loves it. I liked this episode, but just as frequently the show seems to rely on using Penelope in well-worn sit-com plot lines like her need to date or needing a man to buy a car. While she is a multi-faceted character, it felt all too often that the show hesitated to distance her from typical female plot lines. In past sit-coms you have male and female stories, and One Day at Time isn't quite ready to mix those up yet. If we get a season 2, I expect that to happen. Machado definitely carries the show.

Rita Moreno & Todd Grinnell
Schneider (Todd Grinnell) is the landlord that seems to live in their apartment. He's a blank slate primarily for comic relief, and seemingly to have a man in the apartment.

Penelope works hard to put her kids Elena and Alex into a good school Elena is the environmentally conscious social justice warrior while Alex is self absorbed. Their primary purpose is story fodder. Penelope is the only developed character, and this show definitely centers around her. Being a veteran is plot point. In episode seven, she and her family monitor the phone around the clock as she waits for a call from the VA hospital.

Stephen Tobolowsky
Her boss Dr. Berkowitz (Stephen Tobolowsky) is later paired off with her mom. It's a contrived choice, and Lydia has to be inspired by Mona from Who's the Boss? (1984-1992). Typically her appearances seem to be curtain calls, but as you expect living with your mother generates friction. Penelope and Lydia argue over going to church.

Elena's quinceanera, in essence a sweet sixteen, is the thread connecting the first episode to the last. She and her mom argue over whether to even have it, and later the dress. Penelope's ex-husband also comes to down which creations more than one conflict. The first season concludes with a nice family moment, because that's what this show is about.

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