‘One Day At A Time’ 4×01 Review: “Checking Boxes”

One Day At A Time returns to our lives with “Checking Boxes,” an episode that is both a great reminder of what this show has always been and what it’s made us feel, as well as sobering proof that, well, life goes on, and whether we like it or not, we must all find a way to go on with it.

For Lupe, who finds herself wondering what could have been with Max, to the point where she’s seeing him everywhere. I will admit this wasn’t my favorite plot point, Max wasn’t a season 3 thing, but a season 2 thing, and I believe Lupe is really and truly over him at this point. But I don’t think it was about Max as much as it was about her just realizing that being happy and being alone don’t have to always go hand in hand.

She might not need someone, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t want someone.

On the other hand of this conundrum is Schneider, who quietly tells Lupe that he’s asked Avery to move in with him, apparently also prompted by the fact that the census guy made him think about the future – about where he should be.

(L-R): Marcel Ruiz as Alex, Justina Machado as Penleope, Rita Moreno as Lydia, Ray Romano as Brian, Isabella Gomez as Elena and Sheridan Pierce as Syd in ONE DAY AT A TIME. Photo Credit: Nicole Wilder/POP TV.

Except both Schneider are Lupe are seeing this the wrong way – life, as much as TV and our parents and often even society in general, tells us, isn’t about checking boxes, about doing so and so in the order the world expects us to. Happiness isn’t about following someone else’s path, but about following your own.

And romantic decisions, the ones about who you want to spend the rest of your life with, should be made because you want to make them, but because you’re afraid of what it would mean if you don’t.

This means different things for Lupe and Schneider. I feel Lupe’s journey is about finding someone who fits, someone she can love and someone who wants what she wants. For Schneider, that’s different. It always has been. He’s gotta realize he’s worth loving, and that he doesn’t have to stay with someone that he might not love enough to take the next steps with, just because they stayed.

There’s no box for happy, said the census man at some point in the episode, and THAT pretty sums up what this episode is about, and the lesson they, and us, should take from it. There isn’t one way to be happy, and following the “rules” set forth by others won’t always make you happy.

(L-R): Marcel Ruiz as Alex, Justina Machado as Penelope and Isabella Gomez as Elena in ONE DAY AT A TIME. Photo Credit: Nicole Wilder/POP TV.

Elena and Syd also go through this journey in the episode, first deciding that they were gonna break up when they go to college, because that’s what makes sense, and then, later, when Alex points out how dumb that is, by choosing their own path and saying hey, long distance might be hard, but we want to try it.

Their own way. Their own box. I guess the rest of the season will be about Lupe, and Schneider, making that journey. One that I increasingly feel only has one ending that makes sense. But with this show, I won’t take anything for granted. As much as One Day At A Time has always been capable of making me laugh, it’s also been capable of surprising me, of teaching me things, of making me think.

It’s a crime that I – that we – almost missed out on more of this. But they’re back. Our familia is back. And we couldn’t be happier.

Bienvenidos a casa!

Things I think I think:

  • “It’s like there’s nothing good on Netflix anymore.”
  • Reader, when I tell you I screamed.
  • “A guy wanting a list of latinos in my house, no thanks.”
  • This is super relatable.
  • But I love Elena being Elena just as much as I love the look on Penelope’s face when Brian suggested Dr. B was her husband.
  • “I am ageless” – Yes, you are abuelita.
  • They don’t really have time to go into the Hispanic/Latino/Spanish difference, but I kinda wish they had. Entertainment is the best way to educate, sometimes.
  • Non-sexual platonic companion is a mouthful.
  • Forget about Syd, what are WE gonna do when Elena goes to college?
  • “Am I being replaced by an older model?”
  • I knew we wouldn’t have it, but let me cry for a bit.
  • Pen’s description of Lifetime movies is DEAD ON.
  • Lydia is like every latina mom, putting ideas in your head that end up NOT HELPING ONE BIT.
  • I’m so glad the group is back.
  • “I don’t need a man, but I still like men.”
  • Alex might be my favorite this episode. He’s over everything.
  • I agree, Pen, great hair day.
  • Why is she still stuck on Max? I thought we were over this.
  • Oh, right, Avery still exists. Yay. Not.
  • Why is EVERYONE pushing Pen towards Max?
  • Since I don’t know Star Trek, you’ll have to tell me, dear reader: Is Seven of Nine gay?
  • “You can be a feminist badass and want a boyfriend.”

Agree? Disagree? What did you think of One Day At A Time 4×01“Checking Boxes”? Share with us in the comments below!

One Day At A Time airs Tuesdays at 9:30/8:30c on Pop TV.

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