A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that One Day at a Time is a reimagining of the classic 1970s–1980s sitcom about a single woman raising her two children. In this version, a Cuban woman raises her son and daughter while living with her mother in the same apartment. The family is loving and always there for each other when needed; mom Penelope listens to her children and treats their concerns with respect. Mild cursing includes "ass" and "crap"; a man is called a "d--k"; and an older woman is called a "vieja" in a disparaging tone. All the show's main characters are single; they flirt and talk about dating on-screen, and there's sexual tension between two main characters. Jokes occasionally veer into the vulgar, with throwaway lines about a girl getting her first period. The family is deeply invested in its Cuban heritage; viewers not familiar with Cuban history and traditions will learn more. Family fights occur but often end in meaningful discussions and heartfelt hugs.
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What's the story?
Loosely based on the classic 1970s–'80s sitcom by revered producer Norman Lear, ONE DAY AT A TIME revolves around a multigenerational Cuban-American family. Penelope (Justine Machado) is a former soldier and currently a nurse who's recently separated from her husband. She lives in an apartment with her tough-minded traditionalist mom Lydia (Rita Moreno), her radically feminist teen daughter, Elena (Isabella Gomez), and smooth-character tween son, Alex (Marcel Ruiz). Her apartment building's louche handyman Schneider (Todd Grinnell) drops by to flirt with Penelope and fix things up, too. The updated sitcom was written by Gloria Calderon Kellett (How I Met Your Mother) and Mike Royce (Everybody Loves Raymond) and produced by Lear.
Is it any good?
Sweet and fitfully amusing, this sitcom redo could have been a painfully awkward throwback, but appealing actors and good writing give it new life. Fans of the original sitcom may get a bit nervous during the show's theme song, same as the original but given Latin instrumentation and played while "Latin-y" images of salsa dancers and rosaries show on-screen. Uh-oh -- is this going to be stale old sitcom jokery with the occasional Spanish word thrown in?
Thankfully, no. Though many of the lines have old-sitcom beats (and are punctuated by the laugh-track-ish giggles of the live studio audience), they're imbued with enough heart to make them land. When Penelope has a tough couple of days arguing with her daughter over her upcoming quinceañera and with her son over school clothes, she rants to her mother about how miserable she is without her husband: "Sometimes you just need someone to give you a hug and say 'I got you.'" Her mother, a priceless Moreno, holds out her arms. "I'm very strong," she tells her daughter. "I've been doing my yoga." Even cynical viewers might find themselves misting up a little. The dilemmas and lines in One Day at a Time may be sitcom-y, but the family togetherness is sweet, making this update great whole-family fare with both laughs and feeling.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how One Day at a Time compares with other family-centered shows. Does the content seem more or less realistic than that in others? Do the central relationships seem nontraditional to you? How are they different from other sitcom families?
Have you watched the original sitcom on which this is loosely based? Why would the update center on a Latino family? How does this make the show more modern? How does this show fit in with other popular shows about families about ethnic or racial minorities such as Black-ish, The Goldbergs, and Fresh Off the Boat?
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