When I was in elementary school, I would read anything and everything that I could get my hands on—whether it be science fiction, mystery novels or romance. I loved reading because it allowed me to discover new worlds and facets of knowledge. Being an avid reader, I learned a lot about the American culture and life but RARELY ever encountered a protagonist who was Mexican-American or even Latin, like me. As I have gotten older, I have unfortunately noticed the same pattern in television shows and films. Time and time again, minimal to no Hispanic representation is ever present. This is an extremely troubling phenomena because TV plays a HUGE role in shaping a person’s social values and expectations. American media has the unique opportunity, however, to create new narratives that stop confining Latinx storylines to blatant stereotype and misrepresentation. One show that has successfully repudiated such Hispanic stereotypes is the Netflix series, One Day at a Time.
What is One Day at a Time?
The show is a remake of a CBS 1970’s sitcom. The Netflix version, however, explores what it means to be a Hispanic-American in modern America. Over three seasons, One Day at a Time has followed the daily antics of the Alvarez family led by single mother, Penelope. Penelope, a war veteran, must balance the daily ups and downs of living with her flamboyant mother and teen children, Elena and Alex. The show includes a talented cast comprised of Justina Machado, Isabella Gomez, Marcel Ruiz and Rita Moreno. Rita Moreno, especially, is a legend and one of only 15 people who have won all four major American entertainment awards: an Oscar, Grammy, Emmy and Tony! In the past, Rita has expressed her disgust at being offered the same stereotypical Latina roles of “Conchitas and Lolitas” again and again which she believes to be extremely “humilating, embarrassing stuff.” At 87 years old, Moreno shows no sign of stopping her role as One Day at a Time’s beloved Abuelita.
What Makes One Day at a Time so Special?
The show focuses upon a Cuban-American family living in Echo Park, Los Angeles—unabashedly providing Hispanic representation. The show balances a fine-line between comedy and seriousness. Topics discussed include Hispanic culture, PTSD, feminism and LGBTQ issues. Despite the rigor of such tough topics, One Day at a Time successfully navigates them all with compassion and heartwarming success. In addition, the show is run by eight female writers and six female directors. Girl power is acutely on display! And largely due to a Latinx writing staff, all episodes prove extremely authentic and relatable. You do not have to be a Hispanic-American to appreciate the comedy or heartfelt interactions of the Alvarez family. As Machado declared in an interview to Oprah Magazine, at the end of the day, One Day at a Time is “a universal story about being human….it’s just a show that makes you feel good.”
Is the Show Going to be Be Cancelled?
The producer, Gloria Calderón Kellett, revealed that Netflix executives “love the show, love how it serves underrepresented audiences, love its heart & humor.” But she also stated that One Day at a Time is still in desperate need of more viewers. With this tragic news, #RenewODAAT soon began trending on Twitter with cast, crew and viewers rallying behind the show. Claims of underrepresentation are very true. In 2016, only 5.8 percent of speaking roles in TV and movies were perfomed by Latinos. The show has also received critical acclaim, through nominations ranging from the Teen Choice Awards to the Emmys and Critics’ Choice Awards. On Rotten Tomatoes, both season 2 and 3 also have 100-percent approval ratings.
One Day at a Time deserves to be renewed!! The show is revolutionary both in its diversity and feel-good humor. Give the show a shot. Each episode is only 30 minutes and will prove a nice reprieve from the daily stress of tests and homework assignments. I promise, you won’t regret it!! The Alvarez family will both steal your heart and make you double over with laughter.