Usually, when I ship a couple, I ship them. There are no black and whites, no ifs or buts. If I ship, I’m full into the shipping, all steam ahead, the good ship has sailed. And there are many times when I feel that way about Penelope and Schneider’s relationship on One Day At A Time.
And yet, there are times when I don’t.
Complicated, right? Yeah, I agree. So join me as I try to make sense of the complicated thoughts in my head, starting with:
When I first started One Day At A Time, I was firmly into the this is never gonna happen, and this should never happen camp. I’m not sure if it was because I came into it with this idea of who Schneider would be (an idea the show would take no time in tearing apart), or because I was desperate for TV to give me a real friendship between a man and a woman, but for most of season one I enjoyed their banter, thought of them more as the kind of family who puts up with each other for the sake of Lydia, and didn’t think about it anymore.
Until the finale, that is.
Now, I’m not sure why it clicked in the finale. It might have been because, despite various comments in season 1, it was the first time where the attraction between them was specifically stated by Penelope, or maybe it was the way Schneider walked onto that dance floor and Penelope leaned into him, as if he wasn’t only welcome, but expected.
Still, going into season 2, I was in the we’ll see camp, not in the I need this to happen now camp, and I was holding firmly there, till “Hello, Penelope.” And then that all went to hell as soon as Penelope went to Schneider when she was feeling at his lowest, and he was the one to break her out of it and set her on the right path.
Back then, though, it was BFF and oh, this could turn into more and I’d be here for it. And then season 3 came, and my convoluted feelings just got even more convoluted.
Yes, Schneider got a love interest, one I really, really enjoyed. But Schneider also cemented himself as the one person Penelope turns to when she’s feeling bad, when she’s feeling anxious, when she’s worried about her kids, her mom, anything. Schneider is simply her person. That’s it.
Lest we think that only holds true one way, we got to see Schneider fall off the wagon and Penelope, especially, though the whole Alvarez family in general, be there for him, not just with the support and affection he needed, but with the tough love as well. Hell, Penelope even went with him to his AA meeting.
So at the closing of season 3, Schneider is Penelope’s person, and vice versa. The question is, was this part of the plan?
Analyzing the intention behind things is tricky. A lot of things, on TV, develop naturally out of people’s chemistry. But writers are usually smart enough to take advantage of that, and what we could have hand waved away as just natural chemistry in season one cannot really be hand waved away at this point, especially not considering the writers are writing towards it.
How so, you ask? Allow me to explain.
It’s clear that Penelope and Schneider’s relationship, whether you see that as romantic or not, has grown a lot through the past few seasons. They’ve gone from reluctant friends, to best friends, to literally each other’s person, and we’ve seen it all happen. Of course, there isn’t anything inherently romantic about being someone else’s person, though it’s also true that there isn’t anything that prohibits the relationship from turning romantic.
Now, we’ve established before that there is a clear attraction between them; there have been enough jokes to the effect to be certain in this regard. This, even coupled with what I said before, in no way shape or form means a romantic relationship is going to happen, or even has to happen, but the balance starts to lean one way instead of the other.
But, overall, the thing that struck me the most in season 3 was that, as much as I like Avery, she feels to me a little like Mateo felt – temporary. And as a writer, I tend to lean on the side of everything happens for a reason, sometimes we don’t know what that reason is, or we might misinterpret the reason to fit our preferred narrative, but there is a reason.
Is the reason that the writers are planning for a Penelope and Schneider long game? I don’t know, but unlike before, I’m not willing to rule it out.
THE END RESULT
So, I guess the question remains: Do I ship it? Do I not ship it? Is the writing in One Day At A Time so good that they’ve managed to unlock an achievement I thought impossible and gotten me to a point where I really and truly don’t care, as long as they find ways to make this relationship continue to be as important as it’s always been?
The answer is yes, and no.
I do care. I do have a preference. I would like to see Penelope and Schneider, who are already each other’s persons, become that completely. I know he is already a part of the family in everything but name, but for reasons I cannot comprehend, I would love to make that official. I adore friends turned lovers story-lines, especially when those story-lines evolve organically out of good chemistry and common sense storytelling.
But, maybe, unlike in other occasions, I won’t be that mad if I’m wrong this time. Maybe in this case, I don’t mind losing. There is, after all, no real loss when it comes to these two. Romance or not, Schneider is an Alvarez at heart, and that is one thing that will never change.
One Day At A Time Season 3 is now available to stream on Netflix.