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One Day At A Time - Season Two - Advance Preview: “Serious Laughs”

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The initial season of Netflix’s One Day At A Time was hilarious, poignant, important, and impacted a lot of people. It tackled sensitive topics like mental health and the complex journey of a young woman coming out and accepting her sexuality. It depicted a proud Cuban-American family living their lives and dealing with all the pitfalls of life as a modern family. Things didn’t always go according to plan, but the family was always there for one another. The season even ended on one of the most memorable images that perfectly summarized the tone and message of the series.

It’s hard to believe that the writers could ever possibly top that initial stand out season, but they did. This season has all the laughs that one would expect, but it also has a lot of deeply emotional moments. There are times throughout the season where it genuinely feels like the writers briefly forgot they were writing a comedy and leaned heavily into emotional dramatic territory. This season, even more so than last, solidifies this series as a dramedy. This approach actually makes it feel more realistic than straight up comedy. Life is inherently funny at times and the series very smartly draws from real-life situations. Life can also be very serious too and there are times where it’s not possible to laugh or find humor in something that is happening. There are many of those moments this season that are so raw the emotions being portrayed can’t be contained on the screen as they charge out to slam right into the viewer.

Those waiting for the payoff for the season finale will have to wait a while, but the wait is worth it. The topic of what Victor (James Martinez) did to Elena (Isabella Gomez) by walking out on her Quinceañera does pop up from time to time in the early half of the season but is never directly dealt with head-on. When the show does circle back to directly deal with his actions it’s some of the finest acting by Isabella Gomez yet. That’s saying something given how standout she was last season with her very smart comedic timing and great ability to channel every possible emotion. The whole episode delivers heavy on the emotional side while slipping in a few nice lighter moments. This same episode also gives Marcel Ruiz (Alex) some exceptional material. He was terrific last season but really comes into his own this season. He even gets several episodes that focus heavily on Alex and he dominates them.

While the first half of the season stays a bit on the lighter side things take a pretty intense turn mid-season. One of the big episodes in the back half is a powerful showcase for Justina Machado (Penelope) as she dives headfirst back into Penelope’s PTSD. Her performance is perfectly supported by Todd Grinnell (Schneider) who gets to showcase a very different side of Schneider this season. He’s still as hilariously intrusive in their lives as last season, but a much deeper side to him emerges.

Stephen Tobolowsky (Dr. Leslie Berkowitz) has a considerably bigger part to play this go around. They even reveal how Leslie first came to encounter the Alvarez family. That first encounter is shown in a flashback and it’s just as hilarious as one might expect. Leslie’s story also becomes more heavily engrained with Lydia’s giving Tobolowsky and Rita Moreno (Lydia) some brilliant laugh out loud moments together. This is also a very big season for Moreno’s Lydia all leading to a very shocking and highly unexpected season finale.

The season ends with the most emotional episode of the whole season and perhaps the whole series. Why it’s so emotional can’t be disclosed, but most viewers will be very hard-pressed to not tear up more than once throughout it while also finding some nice moments to chuckle. The season builds up to this episode in such a perfect way that it makes the season feel even more satisfying. There is not a single standout performer because what they all deliver is on such an even level of powerful perfect acting that no one performer could possibly be praised more than the others. They all get their moments to shine and shine they do.

Despite what it sounds like, this season is full of lots of laughs and great pop culture references. It continues on tackling tough subjects while infusing a tasteful amount of humor. There are also several new romances all handled with care and thoughtful planning. Most look like they might be there for the long run while at least one hits a rough patch that might be irreparable. The topics of immigration, mental health, and LGBT rights continue to be big central points of the story. This series is brilliantly unapologetic in calling out injustices and that makes it all the more endearing to its audience. If you were a fan of the first season you’re in for a real treat because this season takes everything that was special about the series and makes it even more special. This season is a must watch, but keep a box of Kleenex on hand just to be safe and be prepared to laugh until your cheeks hurt.

Don’t miss Season Two when it premieres Friday, January 26th on Netflix at 3 am ET/12 am PT.

Hit the comments with your hopes for this upcoming season. What do you want to see happen? What do you expect will happen? What are you most looking forward to?

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