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"Checking Boxes"[1] is the first episode of Season 4 of One Day at a Time. The episode aired March 24, 2020.


After a census taker comes to the house, the Alvarez family reflects on their relationships and wonder what else the future may (or may not) have in store.


The Alvarez family along with their friends are getting ready for movie night when Brian, a census taker knocks on the door. Penelope slams the door on his face but then Elena tells her that the census is important because it determines federal funding, congressional seats, and Latino representation.

Penelope lets Brian back in, and she helps him learn about the family and their relationships for his form. Lydia tries to claim that she is the head of the household but Penelope insists she is. Each member of the family and their friends introduce themselves. Brain subsequently leaves saying he needs to make his rounds to the other building tenants.

Elena and Syd talk about they're going to break up before they leave for different colleges, but Alex bets that they wouldn't last two days without each other. They accept the challenge.

Later, Penelope is watching a movie in her bedroom and Lydia enters, telling her that she was wrong that she needed a man. Then she tells her that reminds her of Lydia's aunt Chuchi, who, after her fiancé left her, swore off love and spent the rest of her life lonely and having nobody. This makes Penelope scared that she's going to die alone, which she discusses the next day at her therapy group. The group thinks Penelope misses Max and all of the other members point out she brings him up frequently, referring to him as her best relationship. Penelope then says it's not that.

Ramona sets Penelope up on a date with a guy she works with, but the whole time she keeps having visions of Max shirtless in place of her actual date and it causes her to act strangely in public.

At home, Elena freaks out after twenty-four hours since she last saw Syd. Alex fears that he'll never be left alone if Syd and Elena break up and says Elena has to get them back. Syd comes back because Lydia called them pretending to be Elena and Lydia says they were both being stupid.

After her bad date, Penelope comes to Schneider for advice, who thinks she should reconnect with Max. She tells him she will visit the hospital Max works at and try to reconnect with him. Schnider tells her that he and Avery decided to move in together, and Penelope congratulates him.

Elena and Syd decide that they won't break up after all because they know they would miss each other too much, and maybe they weren't as mature as they thought. Then they start making out in the living room, causing an uncomfortable Alex to leave.

Penelope goes to Max's hospital where he works, but a nurse there tells him that he no longer works there. He now works at a Doctors Without Borders group in Indonesia.

Back home, Alex and Elena talk with Penelope as she tells them that even though she is independent and strong, she still wants a boyfriend. Both of her kids express their support for her being a strong woman who still wants to date. Then, Alex surprises the whole family by revealing he has a girlfriend named Nora, much to Lydia's chagrin.





  • Ray Romano as Brian[3]
  • David Clayton Rogers as Sebastian
  • Sally Pressman as Nurse Sasha


  • Alex says there's nothing good on Netflix anymore, which was a quip at Netflix canceling the show the previous year.
  • Lydia Riera and Doctor Berkowitz are back from Cuba.


Click here for the Checking Boxes transcript.

Notes and references

Episode Guide