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One Day at a Time

The mission statement here at Camp Reel Stories is, “When women and girls are better represented behind the scenes in the media, they will be better reflected on the screen.” If you for some reason needed proof of this I suggest you turn your attention to this knockout of a show.

One Day at a Time is the story of a Cuban American family living in Los Angeles, tackling issues of what it’s like to be Cuban in America, trying to raise a family without a father and all the other complications of raising two teens. The main character, Penelope Alvarez is a veteran and single mother who tries to raise her children along with her fabulous and eccentric mother. There are currently two seasons out on Netflix and in each episode, they tackle important issues such as gun control, immigration and colorism in the Latino community. This show tackles issues from the 3 generations that live under the Alvarez roof.

This is an example of an episode they did on gun control in season 2 and the topics that are covered can be controversial. Just because its controversial doesn’t mean that the conversation shouldn’t happen though. This confrontation between Penelope and her mom demonstrates the depth in which the show wants to dive in.  

Of course this show isn’t all about teaching it makes sure to have fun too. Cuban coffee man, it’s no joke.

In all seriousness I don’t know about you but when I look at my TV I rarely see anyone who looks like me and if they do they portray the same stereotypes that have been perpetuated for decades. This show was written by a diverse writing room and as you watch each episode that is made apparent. In fact, it is co-produced by a Cuban American woman named Gloria Calderon Kellett and she has talked in interviews, like this one from Pacific Standard, how she incorporates her own experience into the story. Kellett has also explained that when hiring for the writer’s room she would tend to pick people of Latin background:

“Because it’s about a Latino experience in America. Non-Latinos can certainly write characters; the human experience is the human experience. However, when contributing to Latino stories and conversations, I think it’s richer if you have people who can actually bring their own personal narratives to it.”      

She said that this was her attempt at leveling out the playing field, many producers in the past having done the same for white writers.

“They’ve been hiring their friends or people that remind them of when they were younger. That’s something that I do too. I can’t fault them with that part of it, but there does need to be an active change. And I know that, for me, the active change I can make is by being the boss. If I’m the boss, I can create other people who will be the boss in a few years. That’s where I can effect change.”

This never hurt the show, in fact it elevates it by including inside jokes that many minorities will relate too. When have you ever opened up a tin of the Danish Butter cookies and actually seen those cookies inside?

Of course, this show isn’t just for minorities because of course there are jokes in this show for everyone. For so many years minorities have related to the predominantly white characters but now we can finally see ourselves represented on screen. Like any show everyone will have their favorite character may that be the social justice feminist daughter, Elena, or the tough and funny leading lady, Penelope. This show is very charming and most importantly it has substance. There’s so much to love about this show, I firmly believe that everyone should watch it, It’s a real gem.


Review Written by:

Marina Amaral-Enciso

Intern at Camp Reel Stories



Rifkin, Rachael. “’I’m Looking to Correct the System’: An Interview With Gloria Calderón Kellett.” Pacific Standard, 26 Jan. 2018.