‘One Day at a Time’: Justina Machado Loves the Show’s ‘Family Dynamic’

Justina Machado as Penelope Alvarez on One Day At A Time
One Day At A Time

In case you haven’t noticed, we really, really want you to watch this reboot of Norman Lear’s 1970s classic One Day at a Time. One reason: Justina Machado’s funny, sad, bubbly, teary, sensitive, tough performance as single mom Penelope, a nurse raising her two kids while living in a tiny California apartment with her conservative Cuban mother, Lydia (Rita Moreno). (Yes, we’re aware of all those adjectives. She’s that good.)

In the comedy’s current second season, Penelope gets intimate with a hot EMT (yay!) who wants more babies (nay!). Her daughter starts dating (yay!), while her son is bullied for being Cuban (nay!). Oh, and her mother falls seriously ill (many nays!). We asked Machado about all the highs and lows.

What did you think after you learned Season 2 would be pretty tough for Penelope?
I was excited. I mean, not for her. But it’s authentic. Like, what she goes through when she’s dating is common: Sometimes you meet someone perfect, but it’s just the wrong time in your life. He wants children and she doesn’t want to go down that road anymore. That’s happened to a lot of women. And men.

When people approach you about the show, what do they mention the most?
The family dynamic. No matter what the person’s ethnicity, they always say it reminds them of their own family. That’s so awesome to me. It’s a universal story told through a Latino lens.

In the last episode, each character talks alone to Lydia, who is unconscious in a hospital bed. It definitely requires tissues to watch. Did that day feel different on set?
We shot it like a regular episode, with four days of rehearsal, and then filmed it in front of an audience, who were fantastic. It must have been intense, but they were always with us. They laughed, but then they would also be deadly quiet. And they cried! They did it all!

One Day at a Time, Streaming now, Netflix