Gloria Calderon Kellett & Mike Royce have built something truly beautiful in the reboot of Norman Lear’s One Day At A Time. This show has gotten a lot of love and is being hailed as one of the great shows of 2017, but a lot of it is missing a special aspect of the show that made it truly something special: its bravery and honesty. And I mean it’s bravery & honesty beyond LGBTQIA+ representation because there are LGBTQIA+ Latinx, Latino, and Latina characters, and while that doesn’t undermine the importance of recognition and representation especially given that it’s a coming out story which there isn’t a whole lot of in Hispanic culture and while other stories don’t make it any less bold or brave there is something that One Day At A Time does that’s every bit as bold but has criminally under-discussed: creating a Latina agnostic.
This Aspect Of The Show Has Been Ignored:
One Day At A Time is more than just one coming out story. It’s two or at least it could be. Elena’s coming out of the closet and the reaction it had from her family was a massively important part of the season but Penelope coming out and revealing her agnosticism was also massively important and it deserved to get more screen-time than it had and it DEFINITELY deserves more acknowledgment by TV critics. Trust me, I’ve been there, I’ve revealed both my atheism and my asexuality to my family and both times were awkward and at least to me neither was more important than the other.
I hate that no one wants to talk about how truly revolutionary One Day At A Time is because if we stop ourselves at Elena’s arc and how she becomes who she is by honest with herself, we miss out on Penelope’s arc and both of these stories deserve to be acknowledged as well as the bravery of the show in telling this story. One Day At A Time is revolutionary but it’s defying conventional storytelling arcs isn’t limited to Elena’s story and we’re not giving it the credit it deserves by ignoring Penelope’s arc and the emotional journey we go on in one episode because of Justina Machado’s powerful performance and the fact that for a lot of more than us than we want to admit Penelope’s doubts hit close to home, and while some of us such as myself have gone through this journey with our families a whole lot of us are afraid to voice our doubts and to speak the truth concerning our own thoughts when it comes to religion because in doing so we not only give our families a chance to reject us we also make our agnoticism far more real.
Penelope made a bold decision when she told her mother about her doubts. She risked rejection and when push came to shove she decided to live honestly even if it meant permanently changing how her mother and yes her children see her. That’s bravery and for a whole lot of Hispanic and Latino/Latina/Latinx people, it is representation as well. One Day At A Time is one of the bravest shows out there because it told these stories, and even though The Office had a Hispanic secular humanist, it didn’t tell the story of how Oscar’s family reacted to his irreligion. More Hispanic people, not just atheists, and Christians but Muslims and Pagans as well, need to see stories like this on TV. We deserve this kind of representation and a willingness from TV writers to explore how religion and conversion or deconversion affects family dynamics in Hispanic households.
I hope this aspect of One Day At A Time inspires bravery in other shows and that ultimately because of this more of us can see ourselves and our stories mirrored on TV.
If you want to read another article of mine on this show, click here, and to watch the show’s trailer and season 2 teaser click below.