Netflix's "One Day at a Time" Spotlights Sexism & Sexual Harassment

Though originally a 70s-80s sitcom, Netflix put out a remake of One Day at a Time with three seasons of laughs, tears and all around quality entertainment. Showcasing the life of a middle-class, Cuban family in Los Angeles, California, they have dealt with serious issues such as racism, sexism and mental illness with an impactful but lighthearted air.

One serious and relevant topic that appeared in two episodes of One Day at a Time (in seasons one and three) is gender bias and sexual assault and harassment. While the show did not shy away from approaching this issue head-on with the seriousness it deserved, they also did it so the audience completed the episode on a more uplifted and educated note, rather than a depressing one.

In season one, episode eight, "Boobs and Mamitas" , gender bias is spotlighted. The episode opens with teenage daughter, Elena, having trouble gaining awareness for an issue she is trying to promote at school simply because she is a headstrong young woman. Single mother Penelope shares a similar struggle as a male co-worker continues to disregard her input.

Elena tries different methods to gain respect from her peers, such as wearing makeup, but ultimately decides to stay true to herself but with a softer and more professional approach to her activism.

As for Penelope, after standing up to her male co-worker and her boss about the ongoing sexism in the office, she only learns to discover that she is earning less per hour than the fellow male nurse despite seniority and being a single mother of two. This is a problem faced by many working women as they are passed over for, not just a higher salary, but promotions and jobs in general. However, it is also revealed that Penelope never even tried to negotiate a higher salary, sending the message that women should continue to ask and fight for what they rightly deserve.



As for season three, episode two, "Outside", the topic is a bit darker as it deals with the issue of sexual harassment towards women. When teenage son, Alex, posts pictures on his “finsta” account with his hand on his new girlfriend’s boob, its sparks a debate within the Alvarez household about consent and respect towards women.

As the argument goes on about the difference between a shy, hesitant “yes” from a girl versus an enthusiastic “yes”, Penelope claims she “feels sorry for men” because the “whole consent thing is confusing.” This is where daughter Elena becomes truly vocal about the issue. As the argument between her and her brother, Alex, becomes more heated, she lets it slip that she is actually a victim of sexual harassment.

She proceeds to tell her family how, when coming back home from a movie with her significant other, a group of guys yelled offensive comments at them and chased them home. Elena expresses her frustration for not turning around and standing up for herself and significant other, but her mother reassures her that she did the right thing by keeping herself safe.

After witnessing her daughter’s courage, mother Penelope shares her own story. One night after a long shift as an army medic overseas, an older mentor of her’s tried to entice her with compliments and alcohol before taking her hand and placing it on his crotch. The incident went unreported as she knew it would mean getting transferred from her job and position that she loved.

After hearing of his mother and sister’s frightening experiences, Alex promises to not only apologize to his girlfriend, but to never make a woman feel the way his mom and sister felt in those vulnerable moments.


This sitcom is a family one, allowing both young and old to learn about these issues in a respectful, safe, and easy to understand way. Shows like One Day at a Time are a critical part of making sure today’s generation, and the next, know what it means to be respectful of others and to be able to speak up if they ever experience sexual harassment or sexual assault.



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