One Day at a Time 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 / An exceedingly sweet family sitcom that faces contemporary issues with relentless optimism


A Cuban-American revival of the Norman Lear series from the ’70s and ’80s, this relatively short-lived version of One Day at a Time was once the sweetest show on TV, especially in a landscape populated by prestige dramas and gritty genre fare. In its empathetic approach towards a wide range of subject matter—racism, mental illness, gender identity, unconventional family structures—the series places a premium on communication and acceptance. Which isn’t to say that the show doesn’t have its fair share of amusing misunderstandings and conflicts, mostly between independent single mom Penélope (Justina Machado) and the flamboyant abuela Lydia (Rita Moreno). But perhaps most impressive about One Day at a Time is how it breathes new life into the three-wall sitcom format with a live studio audience—enhancing the show’s most emotional moments either through the live viewers’ bated breath or their eruption of applause.

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