A Super Fan’s (final) “One Day At A Time” Season Two Review

Are you ready? I wasn’t… And yes, I had to give this it’s own post.

Seriously. Get some Kleenex (latinx – thank you Lydia) out. I went through two and a half packets.

Episode 13 – Not Yet

This time we got a lot of the previouslies at the taping. We got most of the Max story, including the breakup. We got Elena having a crush and then a girlfriend (which finally explained to me why everyone kept hinting at an episode we’d not seen yet). We got the citizenship story. And yes, we got the stroke.

The second that aired, the entire room went silent. Like “Did they just …” shock washed over us all. The woman next to me had been there the previous week and said that not everyone was there this week. Which means there were some people who had no idea how it all ended until it aired. I feel so, so bad for them.

We were dead silent when the credits ran.

The whole set was two rooms, the waiting room and the hospital room. They’d taken down the normal living room and put up curtains to hide everything. All we could see was the waiting room at first. After the first scene of the waiting room, they pulled back the curtains and there was Rita, in the hospital bed. We all inhaled, collectively, as one. It was … Yeah.

Everyone Was Amazing

Everyone’s scenes, their moments where they talked to Lydia, were so damn powerful. My wife and I talked about which one we loved the best, and kept going back and forth about our favorites. The Schnieder scene took the most time, but that said, they had to take down the set dressing every time and he had to put it all back up.

When we got to Elena’s scene about why she didn’t speak Spanish, I cracked and cried. That kind of ‘small’ rebellion is so, so common and familiar to so many of us before we come out. We’re angry and different and we just don’t know why so we pick something easy to fight. And Isabella got it right every time.

Justina Machado Needs an Emmy

Speaking of … Most of the time, you get to see the same scene twice. At least. They tweak things, or get a new angle, or whatever. This episode, the scene where Penelope breaks down, was one single take. And yes, she about killed us all with feels. And I need to stress this: They normally do at least two takes of anything. I’ve never seen a single take like that and it blew my mind. Justina Machado is amazing and I am in awe.

Seriously, you know how people are saying that is an Emmy worthy performance?

She nailed it in one take.

That’s how good she is. Not a single hiccup.

I’m seriously in so much admiration of her, her talent, and you should be too. And when the audience stopped laughing or making any noise, know we were all holding our breath, enraptured by the god damned master class Justina Machado put out there for us that Tuesday night.

A Dinner Of Dread

At that point we broke for dinner and snacks. The woman sitting beside us had missed Justina’s scene so we recapped it for her. When they came back to the scene, and we saw Rita in that dress, I promise you the entire audience held their breath. Every. Single. Person. That silence was legit.

Because we couldn’t tell if they were going to kill her off.

Seriously. Watch that scene and know this. The audience couldn’t tell if Lydia was going to die.

In every single take of Lydia saying “Not yet,” we erupted into applause and cheers. It was the most real and heartfelt “Oh thank god!” I’ve ever heard regarding a TV show. After the take, and as they reset, we all were crying and talking about how we couldn’t tell. I told my friends on set the same after. Hell, I told Normal Lear. It was that well done. Rita gave nothing away. Take after take after take, she hit that line and we erupted with joy.

They finally had to actually ask us not to cheer after that line for one take so they could get through it!

But that scene you see, where she says “Not yet.” That moment is a couple hundred people cheering because we were thanking everything we believed in that Lydia lived.

The End (for now)

Whew.

I’m not doing this justice. I keep re-reading and thinking I should be telling you more about how they had few line-re-dos. Or how when we were on set after, I noticed the waiting room had real pamphlets. Or maybe that how the on-set party after was filled with us all being relieved and telling each other how much we’d been caught up in the story. Or maybe I should tell you how much Todd liked my macaron cookies.

Or not.

The thing is that it was a singularly haunting and beautiful experience.

Thank you, Char, for making connections for us. Thank you to the whole cast for being friendly and welcoming and real. Thank you, Rita Moreno, for the laughter and tears and the moment when you grabbed your breasts and demanded I take a photo (it’s still on my phone).

Thank you, Isabella Gomez, for always recognizing us and taking a moment to say hello, and for learning all you have about the community you now represent. Thank you, Marcel Ruiz, for the quiet conversations while everyone was being loud. Thank you, Stephen Tobolowsky, for your beautiful nebbishy perfection, and for your constant gifts to the Jewish community. Thank you, Todd Grinnell, for making me laugh so hard. Thank you, Justina Machada, for making me cry every single week.

Thank you, Mike Royce, for getting us the VIP tickets and inviting us onto the set after.

Thank you, Gloria Calderón Kellett, for everything. For this story. For this dedication to realness. For the hug too. For taking a LezWatchTV pin and recognizing us. Thank you for insisting this be told.

Thank you, Norman Lear, for always being who you are. Every day of our lives brought us to the moments we shared, collectively, on that stage. Every second we have lived led to that. And in so many ways, it makes all of it, all the horrible things that happened in 2017, hurt a little less.

Thank you, cast, crew, writers, and everyone who makes One Day at a Time.

I hope I get to come watch you film season three.

About Mika Epstein

Mika has been deep in the fandom world since she could say 'Trekkie.' With over two decades experience in running fansites and organizing communities, she's taken on the challenge of delving into the recesses of television for queers long forgotten. Making this site with Tracy is nothing short of serendipity. Mika lives with her wife and their cats in Southern California. Of course she has a hybrid, but she'd rather ride her bicycle.
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