The Alvarez Family’s return on January 26th is an understated mark of success for One Day at a Time. Centring on the lives of a Cuban-American family surviving under the Trump administration, the Netflix sitcom is a cultural manifesto, exploring Latin American family tropes through a period of uncertainty and division in the US.
With the first season running like a hybrid of a Latin American Telenovela meets situational-comedy sitcom, One Day At a Time was positively received by fans in the States and abroad, especially resonating with its Latin American audiences. So much so that Netflix called for a second season, putting army veteran Penelope Alvarez (Justina Machado) and her family back on the streaming service first thing 2018.
The forefather of the American sitcom, Norman Lear, returns with the second season of his reimagined series, producing One Day at a Time with the 1975 original series as his blueprint for balancing humour and heartbreak. The original ensemble also returns in the new season, with the support of a handful of new characters and crew.
So what else can fans expect from the series when it returns to Netflix on the 26th of January? Here are the top six things to expect from One Day at a Time’s sophomore season.
Even more Latinx than the first season
The series flies the Cuban flag through the length of its thirteen, thirty-minute episodes. Whether it’s the arbitrary Spanish dialogue that plays out without subtitles, the family’s nicknames and the way they address another or the references to Cuban food and practices, the second season seems even more comfortable sinking into its Latin American roots.
It was something that the series achieved in its first season, sparking a semblance of Latinx life that not only resonated with familiar audiences, but also appealed to English demographics alike. The balance of a traditional US sitcom offset by an alternate culture was able to push One Day at a Time to wide audiences, and moving in to the second season, they’re sticking to their guns.
The Alvarez family is growing up
Maybe the best thing about a quality series is growing with the cast. Being able to share empathy with a character through a difficult epoch gives the character more body; it makes them feel a little less like a work of fiction. And this is what the writing in One Day at a Time does; it develops rapport by putting its cast through relatable conundrums.
Just as you once persevered impulsive relationships, job searching, maddening family responsibilities, physical and possibly mental tiring as well as general growing pains, the Alvarez family is ready for it all in season two. Fans will even get to see Elena (Isabella Gómez) rest her protest signs momentarily and enter the workforce with the least likely of apprentices at her side.
Speaking of Elena, she’s got plenty more to say in season two
It’s hard to award an objective title for ‘best character’ in any series, especially so in One Day at a Time. The obvious choice for most would likely be Lydia (Rita Moreno) who continues to insert herself in every scene through season two, never letting her family (or anyone really) forget her for a moment. But if you were to have that discussion, you’d never count out Elena.
The staunch feminist, Hillary ally, proud latinx, LGTB supporter and gender equality advocate returns in the same whirlwind she parted the first season. Come season two she’s going after corporate America, the Trump regime, and pretty much anyone who isn’t willing to respect another’s preferred pronoun. Elena as the progressive teenage lesbian is easily the show’s most provocative character, and so too its most refreshing.
Cutting the tension in America
One Day at a Time never once feels like a mouthpiece for political rhetoric, but for a series based on a set of cultural values to premiere at a time where such values are a point of division and contention, it’s unavoidable that some messages shine through.
If the Alvarez family is to be the voice for the minorities they portray, then they’ve got some pretty interesting things to say. Without ever losing its jest, the second season of One Day at a Time turns its charm onto some serious issues, touching base with racism, stereotypes, politics, gender equality, citizenship, nationalism, mental health and even a hint of gun control. All this mind you, taking place in some of the season’s funniest episodes.
Schneider and Leslie are still trying to become a part of the family
Schneider (Todd Grinnell) is the Kramer of the One Day at a Time universe. There’s never a good time for him to say what he has to say or do what he has to do, but with Schneider you know it’s going to happen anyway. He’s a little beat down by the Alvarez family, but not nearly as much as Leslie (Stephen Tobolowsky) is beat down by Lydia.
We get to find out a little more about these two as they continue to try and earn their place among the Alvarez family. Schneider still has enough money and time to do nothing but the first thing that comes into his head, while Leslie continues to accidentally provoke the show’s two leading ladies. There’s even a young Malibu Schneider and meek doctor Leslie cameo; a moment to look out for.
New characters and new relationships
Although the core cast returns with One Day at a Time, there’s a bit of a shake up in the Alvarez family home through the second season. A couple of additions ride through in season two, bringing some pretty awkward moments, a few new relationships and maybe the best Tina Charles cover to ever come from TV.
The second season of One Day at a Time will premiere on Netflix on January 26th.