One Day at a Time

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
One Day at a Time TV Poster Image
Worthy update of classic sitcom has heart.
 Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 12 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 17 reviews

We think this TV show stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

A loving family anchors this drama, with a grandmother living peacefully in the same apartment as her daughter and grandchildren. The family freely discusses Cuban heritage and traditions, with generations clashing over such things as speaking Spanish (or not) or remaining married (or not). Racism and misogyny are called out and criticized by the family in several scenes. Family problems are solved with arguments, then honest discussions, then heartfelt hugs. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Single mom Penelope is sometimes impatient and yells at her mom and kids, but she's respectful of their feelings and opinions. When her middle school son expresses a need to be "the man of the house" with his dad gone, Penelope tells him to "just concentrate on being a 12-year-old." She also allows her daughter to choose whether or not to have a birthday party. Grandmother Lydia can be judgmental but supports her daughter emotionally and in practical ways (cooking for the family). A main character comes out as a lesbian to a mostly supportive family (eventually everyone comes around). 

Violence

Occasional playful scuffling: A mom throws paper towels at son's head to get his attention. 

Sex

Main characters are interested in developing a romantic life; they flirt and talk about dating. Jokes about a girl getting her first period.

Language

Mild cursing, generally for emphasis instead of insult: "badass," "crap." An offscreen character is called a "d--k." The Spanish insults are harsher than those in English, but might go over non-Spanish speakers' heads. 

Consumerism

Brands are mentioned and shown on-screen: Apple, Zappos, Café Bustelo coffee. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One character argues with another that "taking drugs" (antidepressants prescribed by a doctor) is not the answer to her problems. 

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. 

User Reviews

Parent of a 10 and 11 year old Written byJennifer D. March 20, 2017

Not a show for kids!

I was really hoping this would be a show I could watch with my kids (ages 10 & 11) but it proved that it was not. There was language that I didn't... Continue reading
Adult Written bymegan m. September 14, 2017

smart, thoughtful, and hilarious

Love the themes that are addressed -- and the ways they're handled. Rita Moreno is fantastic, as is the rest of the cast. Obviously, people who are ultra c... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byMatheamunster03 March 2, 2017
This is an amazing show. Many important topics are discussed, such as feminism, sexuality etc. it's really just great. However, there is one episode where... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byNico coolman January 11, 2017

Hilarious, edgy show!

This is an overall awesome show, but it is pretty edgy for a TV-PG show, though it can still pass. Language- 3/5 Frequent swearing, including "Damn",... Continue reading

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?

  • How do the characters in One Day at a Time demonstrate empathycommunication, and teamwork? Why are these important character strengths?

  • 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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