One Day at a Time Is the Awesome New Netflix Sitcom with a Coming Out Story

one day at a time
Cassie Sheets

The Netflix reboot of the classic Norman Lear sitcom One Day at a Time might just revive the multi-camera sitcom. The 13-episode first season focuses on three generations of the Cuban-American Alvarez family: Penelope (Justina Machado), a separated veteran and nurse, is raising her teen daughter and son with the help of her mother Lydia (Rita Moreno). In the same vein as Lear’s classic sitcoms All in the Family, Maude, The Jeffersons, Good Times, Sanford & Sons, and the original One Day at a Time, the reboot balances laughter with an approachable social commentary. The first season explores sexism, immigration, veteran’s rights, and has an honest coming out story that takes center stage for the last half of the season.

Penelope’s 15-year-old daughter Elena (Isabella Gomez) is a headstrong star student who loves railing against the patriarchy, watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and starting composting programs at her high school. Over the course of the first season, Elena gradually comes out to her family.

While coming out stories on television or film are often a best or worst case scenario, Elena’s coming out process is more realistic. She’s not always as sure of her sexual orientation as she is in stubborn battles with her mother and grandmother about quinceañera traditions. Her family doesn’t immediately know all the right things to say or do, but they try. When she does deal with rejection from a family member, she’s confident enough in herself to cope.

One Day at a Time feels different than most modern sitcoms; it’s almost jarringly sincere. While Rita Moreno’s comedic timing steals the show, and Justina Machado embraces her goofy side, the dramatic moments are the most affecting. Penelope pleading with a VA representative after a day of hang-ups and holding, Lydia describing her journey from Cuba through the Pedro Pan program and the people she had to leave behind, and Elena hesitantly coming out to her mother are the moments that will make you want to keep watching.

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