One Day at a Time has everything you want in a TV show, and you should definitely watch all three seasons multiple times.
No matter what you’re looking for in a quality TV show, One Day at a Time has it. But yesterday, showrunner Gloria Calderon Kellett revealed that Netflix needs the show’s ratings to improve before it can be renewed for a fourth season. It’s crazy that the show needs help, because everyone should already be watching.
I know it seems hyperbolic to say the show has everything, but there really aren’t enough superlatives available for me to heap on One Day at a Time.
First off, it’s the best example of taking something that is often regarded as obsolete and tired — the multicam sitcom — and reinvigorating it with new life.
This traditional sitcom redefines the traditional American family that we’re so used to seeing on TV, tackles timely and important issues that we rarely get to see on our screens, and represents marginalized voices and experiences in a way that’s both authentic and deeply funny.
And it does all of this in front of a live studio audience (listen for my loud, obnoxious laugh in the beginning of the fourth episode of season 3).
If you’re a fan of the original series, then this show is definitely for you. Norman Lear produces it and the show is nothing but respectful to the source material (while also updating the story in a way that feels fresh and exciting).
If you’ve never even heard of the original series but are a fan of sitcoms, yet fear that the genre has been overtaken by mediocre setups, flat characters and forced laugh tracks, then One Day at a Time is likewise definitely for you.
It gives us dynamic characters, hilarious setups, is filmed in front of a live studio audience and is proof positive that the multi-cam sitcom is not only a genre that works, but one that has the ability to tell engaging, thoughtful and hilarious stories over a 30 minute period.
Secondly, One Day at a Time is the funniest show on Netflix, and I’d be willing to fight you on it being the funniest show on all of television.
Even the most dour among you would be hard pressed not to smile at least half a dozen times an episode. For the rest of us, trust me when I say that it’ll inspire deep belly laughs that leave your stomach hurting and cause you to guffaw loudly, obnoxiously and frequently. Learn from my experience and try not to drink anything fizzy as you watch it, because there’s a very real chance it’ll inadvertently end up going up your nose.
In fact, if I wanted to, I could easily write an article counting down the top 10 funniest moments in One Day at a Time, and this would both be incredibly easy and ridiculously difficult. Easy in that there are so many hilarious moments to choose from, next to impossible because how am I supposed to pick just 10, much less rank them?
(But if I did have to rank them, season 1’s “One Lie at a Time” would have to be near — if not at — the top, followed very closely by season 3’s “Funeral,” just in case you wanted to take a look at what I’m talking about.)
A lot of this has to do with the writing, which is consistently clever and hilarious without resorting to meanness, snarkiness or cheap jokes. These characters all care about one another, so even when the joke is at someone’s expense, it’s never cruel or demeaning. One Day at a Time takes its genre seriously and does it well, so that it truly is a situational comedy.
But a lot of the hilarity also has to do with the cast, who are amazing through and through. Todd Grinnell and Stephen Tobolowsky play two ridiculous and ridiculously goofy characters who never become caricatures of themselves, while Isabella Gomez and Marcel Ruiz absolutely nail their roles of awkward, snarky teen and cool, snarky teen, respectively. And of course it has the magnificent Rita Moreno, icon and EGOT winner, who absolutely kills it in every single scene that she’s in.
Finally, there’s Justina Machado, TV’s most underrated actress (this is 100% true, and if you’ve watched the show, I know you agree with me). She does physical comedy as well as she does situational comedy as well as she does one liners — and she does all of those things incredibly well. The face journey she takes in season 3’s “The First Time” is a triumph of comedy and of acting, and in a more just world she would’ve already won all the awards for this role.
But as good as One Day at a Time is at making you laugh, it is also a show that is criminally good at making you cry — anywhere from a few tears that escape your watery eyes, to deep, ugly sobs wrenched from the very depths of your soul.
I can’t even watch One Day at a Time anywhere but in the comfort of my own home because the chances I’ll end up crying into a pillow are too high. And, yes, I am a very sentimental person who likes a good cry now and again, but I dare you to watch either “Hello, Penelope” or “Not Yet” from season 2 and not start weeping.
Again, One Day at a Time does a tremendous job at pulling at your heartstrings without cheapness or manipulation. As good as the cast is at making you laugh (and they are very good at it), they are just as good at making you cry.
When I went to a taping of an episode of the third season (the fourth one!), I started crying about 30 seconds into the season 2 recap (and then proceeded to cry twice more during the actual taping of the episode).
Finally, One Day at a Time is a show that doesn’t shy away from difficult topics or hard questions.
It is the absolute best at imbuing its narrative and characters with deeply personal, timely and important storylines that either reflect current social, cultural and political events and issues, or elevate voices which are rarely seen or heard on television.
Just off the top of my head, One Day at a Time has tackled: toxic masculinity, gender identity, cultural identity, addiction and recovery, mental health, immigration, religion, consent, sexuality, racism, sexism, and homophobia.
And it has managed to do this without ever being preachy, or saccharine, or descending into an after school special. Instead, it depicts all of these topics honestly and in such a way that I either come away feeling seen and represented or learning something new and thought-provoking.
But do you wanna know the greatest thing about One Day at a Time?
It’s that it manages to be all these things at the same damn time, do all of them equally well, while also churning out both consistently great single episodes and entire seasons.
This means that in any given episode, you will likely laugh loudly, cry even more loudly, have your heart be warmed and see things from a new perspective. And at the end of the season, you’ll sit back and appreciate the organic and realistic journey that you’ve taken with each of the characters, and realize that you now love them all even more than you even thought possible.
So save us all from living in the darkest timeline and binge watch (and then re-watch) One Day at a Time so that it can be renewed for a well-deserved 4th season.
I promise you won’t regret it.