Executive producer Norman Lear, who defined topical sitcoms of the 1970s with such hilarious classics as “All in the Family,” “Maude” and “Good Times,” reboots his show about a single working mother and her family contending with contemporary issues, usually in the comfort of their apartment and before a studio audience. Given a longer running time per episode than network TV allows and a slightly serialized approach, this Netflix comedy uses an old-fashioned format to explore contemporary problems in a humorous manner.
Title: “One Day at a Time”
Year it began: 2017
Where it can be seen: Netflix
Who’s in it: Rita Moreno, Justina Machada, Todd Grinnell, Isabella Gomez
Typical episode length: 30 minutes
Number of episodes to date: 13
Brief plot description: A Cuban-American woman who is also an Iraq war vet raises her teenage daughter and tween son in an Echo Park apartment with the help of her old school, immigrant mother and a nosey building super. The family faces serious issues in a humorous way, usually with heartwarming results.
Why it’s worth watching: Unlike “Fuller House” and other recent revivals of popular shows, the new “One Day at a Time,” developed by Gloria Calderon Kellett and her husband Mark Rice, focuses on new characters in a familiar setting. The only holdover from the original series is the character of Schneider (Todd Grimmell), now a silver-spoon millennial instead of a blue-collar handyman. The comedy comes first and the laughs are big, but there’s always an underlying message, usually one of tolerance.
Machada, who has played supporting roles in horror films (“Final Destination 2,” “The Purge: Anarchy”) and dramatic TV series (“Six Feet Under,” “Queen of the South”), doesn’t just shine in her starring role, she glows, relishing the comedic and dramatic opportunities offered by her character. Whether battling the VA over medical issues or dealing with her own prejudices when she learns her daughter might be gay, she is always a joy to watch. Moreno seizes the day as the livewire grandmother quick to remind her family members of their roots, and Isabella Gomez is given the entire season to explore the character’s awakening sense of identity.
This is a multigenerational, multicultural feel-good show with a positive message, and at the end of the day it’s all about family.
– Gregory Lamberson