New 'One Day at a Time,' now centering on Cuban-American family, wins over many critics

A new version of the Norman Lear sitcom is scheduled to debut on Netflix on Jan. 6. The show stars Justina Machado and Rita Moreno.

Michael Yarish/Netflix
'One Day at a Time' stars Justina Machado (l.) and Rita Moreno (r.).

A new version of the 1970s Norman Lear sitcom “One Day at a Time,” which will soon debut on Netflix, is receiving mostly positive reviews for the story of a Cuban-American family. 

The new “One Day at a Time” will debut on Netflix on Jan. 6 and stars Justina Machado as Penelope, a veteran who has a son and daughter. Rita Moreno stars as Penelope’s mother. 

Mr. Lear, who also produced such classic sitcoms as “All in the Family” and “The Jeffersons,” is producing this new take on “One Day at a Time” as well. The original version, which debuted in 1975 on CBS, centered on a mother raising two daughters after a divorce.

Ms. Moreno told the Los Angeles Times that she enjoys the fact that the new show is about a Latino family because she remembers when that was not around on television.

“You just didn’t see it,” she said. “All these years later, it’s not like we are the first show to have a Latino family, but there are so few out today – that doesn’t make any sense when you look at the demographics in the U.S. There seems to be this dumb idea that you can’t get into a show with Latinos if you’re not Latino.” 

The show has received mostly positive reviews ahead of its debut, with Washington Post critic Hank Stuever calling it “perfect” and showing that “there’s hope for the future of sitcoms.” 

“As it was long ago, ‘One Day at a Time’ leans heavily on Lear’s knack for fearlessly blending controversial topicality with comedy – with a sometimes challenging additional layer of identity politics,” Mr. Stuever writes. Meanwhile, New York Times critic James Poniewozik called the show “lively and full of voice, a rare reboot that’s better than the original. It’s a throwback in the best sense, to an era of mainstream, socially engaged kitchen-sink sitcoms.”

However, San Francisco Chronicle writer David Wiegand was not quite as impressed, writing that “the show is unabashedly old-fashioned, with a pragmatic application of contemporary issues … the show is nicely written, but just that, and the performances are almost universally engaging. The exception to that is the performance that kicks the whole reboot up several notches: Rita Moreno’s.”

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