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What to Watch: One Day at A Time ~ Season 3

11:50 AM PST on February 8, 2019

Welcome back to What to Watch, where L.A. Taco staff picks some of the most relevant and entertaining films, TV, and videos to stream or watch on TV. What are you watching, Team Taco?


[dropcap size=big]I[/dropcap]t's really such a simple show, shot on a soundstage in front of a live studio audience. But in that classic American sitcom package, One Day at a Time manages to be one of the most nuanced and honest portrayals of real life. It's pretty damn entertaining, too. 

One Day at a Time Season 3 premiered on Netflix February 8 at midnight and hasn't lost a step since consistently sitting near the top of various 2018 best of lists.

Its premiere episode takes place mostly at the wake for a tia that no one can really remember and is centered around an old family feud with a subplot about sexual identity. Somehow it does all this while being funny and frighteningly familiar to anyone who has been to one of my family gatherings.

The show is expertly helmed by showrunners Gloria Calderón Kellett and Mike Royce – and a diverse staff of writers, cast, and crew – who dance through real life topics with the style and magnetism of Rita Moreno's two-step.

Living legend and EGOT winner Moreno plays Lydia Margarita del Carmen Inclán Maribona Leyte-Vidal de Riera, the grandma, on the show. Lydia is consistently my favorite part of the show with lines like, "I wouldn't be caught dead having a stroke." Moreno's take on an overly confident, powerful abuelita is worth the massive loss of productivity from a binge session. I eagerly await her grand entrances from behind the curtains of her converted living room bedroom, or her chants of "Dale!" before a flurry of dance moves.

All photos courtesy of Netflix.

Star Justina Machado plays the hell out of Penelope Alvarez, the show's protagonist. Penelope is an army vet, a divorcee, and a nurse raising a pubescent teenage boy, Alejandro, and a feminist activist teen girl, Elena, played respectively by Marcel Ruiz and Isabella Gomez.

The whole cast is superb and, more importantly, relatable. It's a show about a working-class family dealing with the typical issues we deal with in this country – bullies, bad days at work, romantic relationships, familial ones – but it also deals with heavy things like guns, post traumatic stress disorder, racism, and sexual harassment.

It borrows from the Norman Lear playbook that made such classic hits as All in the Family and Good Times so strong. The mix of ordinary moments and life-altering ones, makes this show about a Cuban American, single-parent household in Echo Park one of the truest reflections of life in the United States.

[dropcap size=big]W[/dropcap]hat makes it so special for me is that it is a show that I can watch with the whole family. My 12-year-old niece and I talk about it like we are discussing The Sopranos around the water cooler.

There are few shows on TV that give you the kind of representation that One Day at a Time does. Even my older brother – who was born in Sinaloa and did many Sinaloa things in his youth – enjoys it as much as he enjoys watching Narcos: Mexico like he's going through old Facebook memories.

But it's not a "Latino show" as much as it is a show that happens to star people that happen to be of Latin American heritage. It's a show set in L.A. in the modern era that happens to be a true and honest reflection of that.

And it's something that is sorely lacking in even the best of TV's golden age, where many directors and producers will spend a great deal of time on the authenticity of a scene, without ever looking around at the people who have actually always been there.

RELATED: What to Watch: L.A. Taco Editor in Oaxaca Trying the City's Best Foods

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