One Day At A Time Review: Spicing up the modern sitcom

Chad White

One Day At A Time
“This Is It”
Season 1, Episode 1

This is a First Look Review of Netflix’s One Day At A Time starring Justina Machado, Todd Grinnell, Stephen Tobolowsky and Rita Moreno.

Sometimes you just need someone to give you a hug and say "I got you."

Reboots tend to not be at the top of anyone’s list when it comes to priority viewing. But these are trying times and harsh times call for harsh measures. And Netflix’s One Day At A Time comes at the right moment. The series is a remake of sorts of a 1975 series of the same name. Produced by Norman Lear and Gloria Estefan, this series takes a Latin spin on the familiar premise.

Justina Machado stars as the patriarch mother -- Penelope Alvarez -- taking care of her two children with the help of her mother played by Rita Moreno. The kids, Elena and Alex, have the personalities of normal teenagers. Alex is kind of spoiled as he suggests that child support and his mother’s job more than enough covers the family so he buys several pairs of shoes. Elena is a typical hipster with a differing opinion than her mother who has lived through a lot for her children. With an emphasis on learned lessons, race and depression, One Day is certainly as progressive as its 70’s, 80’s and even 90’s sitcom contemporaries. But it has a particular charm to it.

Machado is given free range to go as big as possible with her lines (Which can be seen in the pilot itself with her impromptu side switching debate with her daughter). Anywhere else, this way of acting would’ve been a fault but Machado manages to pull it off. Similarly the writing by Gloria Calderon Kellett and Mike Royce affords the cast a wide range of emotion. Better yet, each actor gets a solid set of jokes.

Direction is a mix of modern day and vintage sitcom. There are many shots that would look at home in a current ABC single camera comedy. Veteran director Pamela Fryman does an exceptional job with staying with the characters all the while managing to make the audience feel at home. Speaking of, the audience is just as into the show as they should be. Laugh tracks are too common for present-day sitcoms. But there’s no room for that here. One Day’s audience is in tune with the emotional aspect as much as they are with the comedy. To go along with every script is a set of themes. The second episode follows the women’s inability to be seen as equals at their respective work and school. A later script has Penelope reaching her depressive breaking point. Much like The Carmichael Show, One Day At A Time relies very much on the talk of the hour.

Should you watch One Day At A Time?

The answer here is tricky. If you’re a fan of old-styled sitcoms, then yes. If not, get the taste for it. One Day At A Time hearkens back to a time of television wherein the family was the story and there weren’t large leaps in the world’s fiction. Further, it's a show where the family teaches viewers that each issue doesn't have to be handled immediately. It only takes one day at a time.