O is for One Day at a Time #AtoZChallenge #PandemicAlphabet

May I suggest spending some time with the Alvarez family (and Schneider) during the pandemic?

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When this show first came out on Netflix, several friends asked me if I had watched it. For some reason, they thought a show about a single mom with a gifted (and headstrong) teenage daughter as well as a pre-teen son would work for me. Perhaps it was also that the grandmother lived with them and had lots of interactions with the teens? The focus on mother-daughter relationships? What I’m saying is I have no idea why my friends who know about my life as a single mother, my interest in YA, and how much I love senior + teen combos would be something I would dig.

But they were right. Dig it I do.

First of all, Justina Machado is phenomenal.

As Penelope, she’s the emotional center of the show and her emotional range is…whew. Penelope is a vet with a bad shoulder and PTSD who attends a support group with other women veterans. You’ll see a nice nod to the original show from the ’70s there because Mackenzie Phillips plays the facilitator of the group. (TIL that the original series went on for nine seasons! Well, this one is four.)

Bonus: if you watch Jane the Virgin as previously suggested, you will also see Justina Machado playing a much different kind of character in that show and can marvel some more at her range.

Penelope’s mom, Lydia, is played by living legend and national treasure Rita Moreno.

She is perfect. There is literally nothing else to say about her.

As a person who loves and misses my grandmother, I love love all of the interactions between the kids and Lydia. She is closest to grandson Alex but also shares a special bond with granddaughter Elena even though they often bump heads because Lydia is old school femininity and Elena is new school woke AF queer feminist. That said, the episode where Lydia makes Elena’s quinceañara dress never fails to give me the eye sweats. The deep, deep love and affection they all have for each other just really makes my heart happy.

Schneider is also there. Because what is ODAAT without Schneider? Some other show, I guess.

The show is great because not only is it warm and funny, but it also tackles serious issues in a warm and funny way. Also, episodes may start in one place but end in another. At one point, the kids’ father comes back so they deal with that. We learn why Schneider has latched on to the Alvarez family and, again, why these people have such deep affection for each other.

I’m making it sound sappy and sentimental, which it isn’t. I mean, obvs, it has its moments, but overall, it’s a smart and fun show with great characters that I enjoy spending time with. I hope you do, too.

The show is four seasons. The first three are streaming on Netflix and the last one is on PopTV and/or streaming on CBS. But even if you can only do the first three, it’s worth it.

For this year’s A to Z Challenge, I have decided that I’m going to focus on comfort reads/watches as we enter our second (!) April in the pandemic. Tune in Monday to see what I choose for P!

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