A re-imagined One Day at a Time Lives Up to Its Namesake While Exploring New Territory

Posted by on June 02, 2018

Photo Courtesy of Netflix

The theme song lyrics opening the Netflix television show are familiar: "This is it. This is life, the one you get, so go and have a ball. This is it. Straight ahead and rest assured, you can't be sure at all. So while you're here, enjoy the view. Keep on doing what you do. Hold on tight, we'll muddle through, one day at a time."

Audiences first heard those words in the 1970s. This time around, they're sung by Gloria Estefan, to fast-paced music punctuated by conga drums and a snappy salsa beat. And that view to be enjoyed, which was once of Indianapolis and the white family who lived there, is now of the Echo Park area of Los Angeles, where quick cuts show a Latino family enjoying each other and some of the elements of their culture.

One Day at a Time, the 1975-1984 CBS sitcom about a divorced mother and her two daughters, is back, in a new version that is less a reboot than a reimagining and whose 13-episode first season began streaming on Netflix in January 2017.

The show is now about the Cuban-American Alvarez family: mom Penelope (Justina Machado), an Afghanistan military veteran separated from her husband who now works as a nurse; daughter Elena (Isabella Gomez), son Alex (Marcel Ruiz) and Penelope's feisty mother, Lydia Riera (Rita Moreno), who often steals the show with her wisdom and one-liners.

The only holdover character from the original series is Schneider (Todd Grinnell), still a ladies' man who functions as the apartment building superintendent, but here is the son of the building owner.

Like its predecessor, the series is executive-produced by Norman Lear, and like all shows of Lear heritage, it deftly weaves contemporary topics and social commentary into the comedic storytelling threads. Complaining to her mother that she wants her husband home, not doing private security in Afghanistan, Penelope says, "There are jobs where they don't shoot at you." Responds Lydia, "This is America. Name one!"

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