'One Day at a Time' Star Justina Machado Talks Show's 'Electric' Season, Latino Lens
Six Feet Under alum Justina Machado says current events don't drive what happens on the remake of the 1970s sitcom One Day at a Time, but they are woven into the fabric of the show.
The critically acclaimed series follows a loving, functional family led by Machado's Penelope Alvarez, a U.S. Army Nursing Corps veteran and single mom who is working in a doctor's office and raising her teenage children Elena and Alex -- played by Isabella Gomez and Marcel Ruiz -- in Los Angeles with the help of her Cuban-born mother Lydia, played by West Side Story and Electric Company icon Rita Moreno.
Seasons 1 and 2 are streaming on Netflix.
"If we are lucky enough to get a third season, [the writers] already have a storyline," Machado recently told UPI, adding she doesn't believe the real-life issues of immigration, citizenship and racism necessarily "dictated what they were going to write."
'The show doesn't shy away from tough conversations,' said show star Isabella Gomez.
"But I guess it did feed it. I guess it really did feed it," the actress emphasized. "This season seems to be more electric."
In Season 2, Alex is subjected to slurs about his cultural heritage while on a class trip. Lydia considers becoming a U.S. citizen after decades of living in the United States. Elena, a lesbian activist, addresses issues such as gender pronouns and the universal lack of LGBTQ representation.
Machado acknowledged being "incredibly devastated" by the outcome of the 2016 election, but noted the show doesn't directly mention President Donald Trump.
It does reflect the impact of Trump's policies on the Latino community.
"It was, obviously, a conversation because the Alvarezes are a Latinx family that live in 2018 now and they are affected by it," said Gomez, 20, sitting next to her TV mom in the interview. "Everybody in this country and in the world is affected by it, so, of course, it had to be included or else we wouldn't be staying true to now. I think we did it very effectively. We touched it, so that people could form their own opinions and go their way, but the Alvarezes definitely have an opinion about it and they stated it."
Previously seen on Modern Family and Matador, Gomez said she thinks the "super-diverse" writing team for One Day at a Time is one of the reasons people of different ages and backgrounds can relate to the series.
"It's half women. It's half Latino. It's ages 24 to 95. There is LGBTQ," she said. "There are all sorts of people in there. So, every single storyline you see on the show has happened to someone in that room. So, that's why everybody can tap in. It's real."
The series just aired Season 2.
Machado said the show tells a universal story through a Latino lens.
"It's amazing, even in our own community, how many people come up to us and say, 'I'm not Cuban, but I love your show.' I say, 'I'm not Cuban either, but I also love the show.' I'm Puerto Rican, [Gomez is] Colombian. It's universal, but it's so interesting how we think we are so different," she said.
The original series, developed by revolutionary writer-producer Norman Lear, ran from 1975 to 1984. It starred Bonnie Franklin as a divorcee living in Indianapolis with her teenage daughters, played by Valerie Bertinelli and Mackenzie Phillips.
Lear's other socially conscious shows include All in the Family and The Jeffersons.
By Karen Butler
Originally published in UPI Entertainment News.