This review contains slight spoilers for the first three episodes of One Day at a Time. Proceed with caution.
I was floored when Netflix canceled One Day at a Time one year ago—the wound still hurts so I try not to think about it. How could the streaming giant strike down the earnest, lovable hit? Thankfully, One Day was revived by Pop TV (home of the beloved ADTV mainstay, Schitt’s Creek), and I assure you that the Alvarez family is in good hands. Not only does it feel like nothing has changed, but it continues to tackle current events without becoming cloying or saccharine. One Day at a Time is back, and it’s better than ever.
One Day only throws shade at Netflix once (when trying to find something for movie night, Alex says, “It’s like there’s nothing good on Netflix anymore”) within the first two minutes of its first episode, but it quickly moves on from that. The premiere finds Penelope and her family thrown when a census taker (played by Ray Romano) makes his rounds in their apartment building. It immediately brings up questions of feeling seen and counted as a citizen, and Penelope personally doesn’t appreciate the emphasis on being single.
As Justina Machado’s Penelope navigates her feelings over her former beau, Max (played by Ed Quinn, in full-on, recurring hunk mode), Isabella Gomez’s Elena tries taking mature relationship steps with Syd (Sheridan Pierce), while Alex (Marcel Ruiz) goes public with his new girlfriend. As for Rita Moreno’s Lydia? Lydia is still perfection, and Moreno still knows how to make each entrance with those loud curtains feel fresh every time she flings them back. Machado is the unsung leader of the ensemble. She can still break your heart and make you laugh with a slight inflection change in her voice. Penelope is the mother we wished we listened to and want to make proud.
What’s going to be most difficult about this revival of One Day at a Time is that we won’t be able to binge it all in one sitting. Pop TV has wisely given the sitcom a weekly schedule so the buzz can build and build as the spring goes on. To cope with having to wait a full week before your next episode, just sing the theme song but change it to “One Week at a Time.” It will fly by in no time.
One Day at a Time is so successful every season because it melds together old-school sitcom values with urgent political conversation and relevant social themes. It’s never “a very special episode” or schmaltzy. It gives us the tools to create the conversations we need to have. One Day at a Time is essential television, and I’ve never been happier that it’s back.
One Day at a Time debuts on Pop TV on March 24.