Why Netflix's One Day At A Time Really Is Worth Your Time

One Day At A Time the Alvarez family in a heap of hugs in the living room

In the vast library of Netflix original content, there are some titles that deserve more of a spotlight in terms of public attention. Be it an original film or TV series that somehow got lost in the shuffle, these unsung heroes are ready to entertain you, if you know where to look. So in the interest of helping you, the streaming public, find something that's worth keeping your subscription valid and up to date, we're here to present you with one such title that deserves your time: the Netflix Original series One Day At A Time.

Before we get too far into things, let's recap what this series is about. One Day At A Time is the story of Penelope Alvarez, played by Justina Machado. An Army vet single mother who served in Afghanistan, she's a Cuban American who lives in Calfornia's Echo Park with her mother, Lydia (Rita Moreno), and her two kids, Elena and Alejandro (Isabella Gomez and Marcel Ruiz).

Also serving as a reboot of Norman Lear's classic CBS sitcom of the same name, the series focuses on the humorous and touching experiences the Alvarez family has in their day to day lives. Issues such as PTSD, coming out to your family, and even the Cuban-American experience are all addressed in this show, and all are handled with a manner that is sensitive, but also extremely entertaining.

Now you may have heard of this series in the recent weeks, thanks to a Twitter campaign that saw fans bid for a fourth season renewal, only to see the show cancelled for good at Netflix. So why, you might ask, are we suggesting this show as something worthy of investing three seasons worth of binging in the first place? Well, the first big reason is, it's just that damned funny.

The mother/daughter dynamic between Penelope and Lydia is a huge draw to the series, as both Justina Machado and Rita Moreno get to play both sides of flamboyant and firm. Also adding to the potential laughs are Todd Grinnell, as a revised, hipster take on the classic Schneider character, and veteran character actor Stephen Tobolowsky as Dr. Leslie Berkowitz, Penelope's boss and eventually a pseudo love interest for Lydia.

A cast such as the one on One Day At A Time is obviously built for laughter, but that's just part of the puzzle. Throughout the three seasons the show has run on Netflix, there have been a lot of moments where the series is rooted in more dramatic happenings. Lydia experiences anxiety and PTSD throughout the series, which leads to her seeking treatment and a support group to help her through the rougher parts of her life; while Elena confronts the issue of her own sexuality as she nears the end of high school.

Both are issues that have potential for the right kind of laughs, if handled properly. And such proper handling demands that the more realistic sides be addressed as well, and this is where show runners Gloria Calderon Kellett and Mike Royce really excelled in their tenure during the show's active run on Netflix. The balance between the more serious aspects of those scenarios never felt like a cop out, nor did they feel melodramatic. It never felt like One Day At A Time had a “very special episode,” because every installment was special in its own right. Life doesn't stop for comedy, and the laughs don't stop because someone's going through a tough time.

On a frequent basis, you can find yourself moved to tears, but then brought back to smiles and laughter through the course of an episode. And yet, it never feels manipulative or programmed. Our time with the Alvarez family, and their friends, feels like time spent with our own. It's because of this that the show has developed such a strong fan base, particularly with LGBTQ viewers and those watching from Latinx backgrounds. In a time where cultural diversity is not only valued, but actively sought after, One Day At A Time is a practical godsend of television delight.

But also, it's that humanity that the series exhibits that makes it universally approachable. One Day At A Time welcomes viewers one and all with a throw of the curtains, and a fresh cup of Cafe Bustelo, should they want to stop by. It's for all of these reasons that the show is not only required viewing to anyone with a Netflix queue, it's also an important show to keep on the air.

One Day At A Time is currently being shopped around, post-cancellation, with network TV being the best, and right now only, option for the show's potential revival. Naturally, anyone who's taking a look at the metrics of the show's viewership is going to want to see if there's an audience that'll jump from streaming to network TV. While there's been a vocally strong fandom represented online, it's going to take something more forceful to get the Alvarez family back into the limelight.

Above all else though, the greatest reason to watch One Day At A Time isn't to fight for its bid for revival, or its groundbreaking approach to an old formula; it's to have fun. Sitcoms can be so canned and contrived in the modern marker, and this one isn't. It's a show that knows the formula, and pays homage to what works, while doing something new for the fun of it. Though if you need some special incentive, the Season 3 opener has one of the best guest stars in the entire run, and involves sibling rivalry at a funeral. Do with that what you may.

So should you find yourself with a gap in programming, and you'd like to laugh, cry, or maybe salsa a little in the privacy of your own living room, One Day At A Time is your best option on Netflix, and is well worth your time. And should you find yourself properly charmed, don't stop there! There's a ton of prime content that's premiered, or is about to debut, on Netflix. Check out our premiere schedule and find your new best streaming friend!

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

Mike Reyes is the Senior Movie Contributor at CinemaBlend, though that title’s more of a guideline really. Passionate about entertainment since grade school, the movies have always held a special place in his life, which explains his current occupation. Mike graduated from Drew University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, but swore off of running for public office a long time ago. Mike's expertise ranges from James Bond to everything Alita, making for a brilliantly eclectic resume. He fights for the user.