Elena Maria Alvarez is a central character in the original Netflix series One Day at a Time. Her full name is Elena Maria Alvarez Riera Calderón Leyte-Vidal Inclán.
She is portrayed by Isabella Gomez.
- 1 Physical Appearance
- 2 Personality
- 3 Bio
- 4 Storyline
- 5 The Politics Episode
- 6 Relationships
- 7 Trivia
- 8 Photos
- 9 Notes and references
- 10 Media
Elena is a young Latinx female. She has long black hair that goes to past her neck, and is usually seen wearing glasses. Her typical hairstyles include wearing it down, in a bun at the top of her and the rest down, in ponytails, and in two buns at the top of her head, or just in one bun piled at the top of her head.
She is 5'3 and has a slim build. Her skin tone has been described as "Wonder Bread." She is nicknamed Blanquita.
She usually wears casual clothing such as sweatshirts, graphic t-shirts, and jeans.
On her Quinces, she wore a white tuxedo with a jacket and dress pants and underneath the jacket a sparkling top made from the bodice of a dress, and a tiara on her head. This is one of the rare times she is seen wearing makeup.
On school days, she wears her school uniform consisting of a teal polo shirt with the school's crest on the right side, khaki pants, an occasional school hoodie in grey or maroon, and sneakers. In earlier episodes before "The Turn," she wore a blue plaid knee-length skirt.
An animated version of Elena makes an appearance in "The Politics Episode," she has brown eyes, dark pink lips, long brown hair that is parted to the side, and thick black glasses which are similar to those worn by her real counterpart.
Her attire consists of a grey shirt with a black and white yin and yang graphic, a navy unzipped hoodie, a pair of dark blue jeans, and grey and white sneakers.
Penelope describes Elena as someone who always stands up for herself. She's the captain of the debate team and she has a love for social studies. She is shown as a quirky and nerdy teen who is still finding herself, however, she seems certain about things like not wanting to have children of her own and seems to be comfortable with her sexuality.
Both she and her "Syd-nificant Other" Syd are into nerdy subculture such as Doctor Who and Winnona Earp and they both enjoy cosplaying and writing fanfiction about these series. They both also enjoy playing video games.
Due to her immense passion for social justice and politics, some people, even her own family often find her preachy and sometimes even annoying. She can be quite stubborn and hot-headed, but Penelope believes she should channel her anger into becoming a lawyer. She is very intelligent and her family sees her becoming very successful in the future.
She's also is very talented in carpentry and has skills as as a handyman as revealed in "Storage Wars."
Around 2003 or 2004, her little brother Alex was born (to which younger Elena was not pleased about because at the time she wanted a puppy).
While in the army, Penelope came back with a bum shoulder, but her father was left with PTSD. Without doing anything to treat it, Victor became a heavy drinker and attempted suicide at one point. This caused her parents to separate, leaving Elena and Alex to live with their mother and maternal grandmother Lydia.
In "Strays," Penelope suggests that Elena doesn't have many friends outside of the internet. However, her best friend Carmen is a huge part of her life. Though it's an ongoing joke in the first half of season one, Elena expresses the possibility of liking girls in "Hold, Please." Her grandmother even suspects that her relationship with Carmen might be "queer." Elena tells her mother their friendship is purely platonic in "Pride & Prejudice."
She officially comes out as a lesbian, in "Sex Talk." All of her family makes an effort to accept her sexuality, except for her father, Victor. He walked out on her, during her quinces when the father-daughter dance was starting. She is currently dating Syd.
She has a very loving relationship with her family, mother Penelope Alvarez, and brother Alex Alvarez, and although she loves her grandmother, Lydia Riera, there is some level of disagreement due to different beliefs. Lydia thinks her political concerns and crusades are annoying.
Although her relationship with her father, Victor Alvarez, is unknown prior to the series, it was likely that they were close and loving. His gift of a doll and treating her like she is still a child upon his return from Afghanistan and her admission that they don't have a lot in common suggests that there is now a disconnect between them.
When she came out as a lesbian, this caused a strain in their relationship, until Victor eventually learned from Alex to accept and love her apologizing for the pain he caused her. She is reluctant but accepts his apology and the two slowly try to mend and rebuild their relationship.
In "This Is It," Penelope comes home from work. Penelope's daughter Elena comes out from the hallway calling for her mom. Elena enters the living room where Lydia says she doesn't like her anymore. Elena retorts that she does not care if her grandmother likes her anymore. Penelope says it sounds like they are both on the same page. Lydia then tells Penelope that her daughter does not want to have a quinces.
Penelope, sounding disappointed, then says they already booked a room. Penelope then says she found a great band, and then says it's actually a DJ, and then finally admits it's just her brother with an iPod but it's a really good playlist of songs.
Elena angrily then says she researched the history of quinceañeras and found out they are totally misogynistic. Lydia then questions why Penelope lets Elena read. Elena glares at this and her mother says that she knows she's a monster, she lets her daughter do math too.
Elena then says she made captain of the debate team but all Lydia wants to talk about is throwing a quinces. Lydia says Elena has to have a quinces otherwise they won't know she's a woman. Elena says that Lydia missed it, she was twelve and it was during gym and ironically it happened during first period.
Lydia also points out that if she doesn't have one then she is throwing away her Cuban heritage. Elena says that only the bad parts and she doesn't want to be paraded around for the men of the village like a piece of property for two cows and a goat. Lydia then says "Someone thinks they're worth a lot."
Penelope then asks what century they are both living in. Penelope tries to convince her that it's just a fun party and she should just relax. Penelope then goes on to say she'll have a little too much wine and embarrass her while she sobs during her toast. Lydia will dance inappropriately in front of one of her guy friends to which Lydia dramatically says she can count on it. Elena says she's not doing it.
Lydia then calls Elena a scoundrel in Spanish and says Penelope needs to do something about her. Elena then questions what that means. Lydia then retorts that Elena does not realize she is being insulted in Spanish. Elena says she'll learn to speak Spanish when Lydia learns to speak English.
Lydia then goes up to Alex and tells him his sister doesn't know the meaning of the word scoundrel l which they both laugh at.
Alex then asks his mother for new shoes and she tells him he can buy a cheap pair for forty dollars.
yells for all of them to gather for family dinner. Lydia, Alex, and Elena all of them share a look, and Penelope learns that they already ate. Penelope is upset but concedes that they will begin family dinners next week. The kids tell her that sounds good.
Lydia then asks Penelope if she's really going to eat the sad-looking meat. Penelope says she bought it, so she's eating it. Penelope then tells Lydia she needs to let her establish her own traditions. Lydia then says she agrees and they should talk about Elena's quinces. Penelope then says she doesn't want to force Elena to have one and she wants to handle it right. Lydia then says a father would really make sure his little girl had a quinces. Penelope then asks if she really wants to go there as she holds the meat hammer.
Lydia then says that when Victor (Elena and Alex's father) comes back they can work it out. Penelope then says when the family all moved in together Lydia said she would go away when Penelope asked her to.
Lydia greets Schneider before calling Elena to come to the family room. She shows Elena Penelope's quinceañera album. This leads to Penelope challenging Elena to a debate. They each pretend to be the other and talk about the reasons why they are for or against having a quince. Elena then brings up a whole bunch of reasons Penelope hadn't thought of which works against her. Penelope wins, which means Elena will have a quince. This causes Elena to storm off, yelling in Spanish.
Later, Elena walks in and shows Penelope that she got a D on her test. She purposefully failed, because now that she's having a quince she doesn't need to be smart. This upsets Penelope, and she sends Elena to her room. Before she leaves, Elena asks her; isn't Penelope always encouraging her to be independent, so why is she getting punished for doing just that?
Penelope then goes to tell Elena that she doesn't have to have a quince, but that if she pulls that crap again with her school work, that she's going to put her tiara on Elena and post it to Instagram.
Penelope says that in reality, she was making the quince about her so that she could prove that a single mom could pull off such a big party. Elena says, that she's been looking for a good reason to have a quince and that that's a good reason. She agrees to have a quince. This makes Penelope happy. She tells Elena, that she'll use the photos they take, to scare her children. Elena declares, she isn't having children.
In "Bobos and Mamitas," Elena is standing outside the bathroom door, waiting for Alex to get out. She asks him what took so long, and he said he was in there just to spite her. Elena accuses him of killing the Earth and he says it was worth it.
Lydia asks Elena why she's dressed if she hasn't showered yet. Elena tells her that she is ready for school already.
Lydia says that that's what she was afraid of. Penelope rushes out, telling them that they have to hurry because she has a staff meeting to get to. Penelope is excited about the meeting, because she made a spreadsheet, and that she's going to make it rain data. Elena is excited about school because they are implementing her new compost initiative. Alex tells her that she has weird goals.
Later, Schneider arrives at the apartment and tells Lydia that he has a salsa emergency. He asks if she can help him learn how to dance for a date. She teaches him how to dance, and asks if she's in love with this girl. He says no, that love isn't even real. She tells him how she met her husband and he says that he met this girl at a BBQ.
They continue to dance when Penelope and the kids arrive. They too join in on the dancing. After, Elena complains, about how nobody put their food in the compost bin. Penelope tells her that her day was just as bad. Elena says it's sexist the way her coworker talked over her. Penelope says that real sexism is being in the army. Elena tells her that sexism is more subtle now. Penelope says, that if she got bent out of shape, every time a man said something stupid—Elena wouldn't be here. Elena tells Penelope, that she needs to call Scott out.
Lydia goes to Elena's room, in the middle of the night, with her makeup kit. She wakes her up, telling her to wear makeup so that she can be taken seriously. Lydia tells her that beauty is powerful. Elena agrees and goes to school with makeup on. Penelope goes to work, confronting Scott about how he's sexist, and how she's tired of letting it go. Scott says he isn't sexist. He accuses her, of taking time off because she's a mom. This angers Penelope, Scott tries to calm her down, by saying that they are all treated equally and all make thirty dollars an hour. Penelope is shocked and angry to learn that she earns less than him, so she quits.
Schneider borrows sugar from Lydia. Elena arrives home looking like a mess. Lydia asks her, what happened? Elena responds that she took the makeup off because boys were talking to her and telling her that she was pretty. Alex gets mad because he's supposed to be the pretty one.
Lydia asks if Elena's going to wear makeup tomorrow. Elena says no. Lydia is upset because she thought that Elena was finally going to be the granddaughter, she always wanted. This hurts Elena who goes to her room. Penelope arrives home and tells Lydia about what she did. Lydia then yells at her and calls her crazy. Doctor Berkowitz shows up and begs her to come back. She negotiates her pay to be thirty-three dollars an hour and she agrees to come back. They hug.
Lydia visits Elena, in the middle of the night, without makeup. Lydia tells her that she understands and will never bother her again about wearing makeup, but she has to wear it at her quinces which Elena says she's fine with.
In "No Mass," Lydia is making breakfast for the kids when Penelope and she argue over having a picture of the Pope in the kitchen. Penelope arrives home to have dinner with her family and Schneider and Elena's friend Carmen.
In "The Turn," Penelope is at Alex's game with Schneider, Lydia, and Elena. They are about to eat when they realize they have no napkins. Penelope sends Schneider and Elena to get some. Schneider goes to the snack stand and orders a diet coke and napkins in Spanish.
He tells Elena that he's been taking Spanish classes so that he could be a better member of the family. The guy behind the counter refers to Elena as Schneider's daughter and asks if she would want anything, but he says that Elena isn't his child.
They go back to the stands and Alex makes a good hit. The Alvarez's and Schneider celebrate. After the game, they go home where they celebrate Alex. Alex gets upset and tells them to shut up.
Alex tells them that they embarrass him at the game and that he hates the Spanish song they made-up about him. Schneider tells him that he needs to appreciate their support. Alex tells them that none of the other parents do it and to stop calling him Papito. Penelope says that its tradition to call him Papito. Alex however, tells them to stop it, or else they can't go to his games anymore. Penelope wonders what's gotten into Alex and Lydia says he's making the turn from cute kid to a moody teenager.
Doctor Berkowitz tells Penelope that it's so much easier when they're grown. Penelope says it's been rough. Berkowitz tells her to treat him like an adult whenever she can and that her baby boy is turning into a man. Penelope tells him that that's great advice. Penelope starts crying because of it and starts to think about him growing up, getting married, and leaving her. Doctor Berkowitz asks her to please don't tell Lydia he made her cry. Penelope knows she's acting crazy.
Penelope gets a call from the school and finds out that Alex punched another student from another school. She goes to pick him up and takes him home where she yells at him for being a jerk. She tells him that it's not okay to punch people. He tells them that he punched the kid because he told Alex to go back to Mexico. Penelope tells him that it's not okay and that she's going to call the school.
Penelope learns that this isn't the first time it's happened. Schneider says that they need to call somebody like Oprah and that they'll know what to do. Penelope feels for Alex. They start talking about racism and how it's still prevalent. Lydia says that she was called a Spick when she was younger and how being called that made her feel very alone.
Elena says that she's been lucky and never been called anything. Penelope says that's because Elena and Alex are different shades of color. This upsets Elena because she's been passing as a white person and getting to use the privileges of white people. Elena says that she's going to go through her whole life never having been oppressed. Penelope tells her that oppression isn't the goal that they are striving for equality and peace. Penelope goes to talk to Alex. Elena asks Lydia if she can teach her more Spanish.
Alex apologizes for hitting that kid. He tells her that he wants things to go back to the way they were and that he's suddenly different. He doesn't want to be different. Penelope asks if that's the reason why he doesn't want them to go to the baseball games anymore. Alex says he's proud to be Cuban but yes. Penelope says she gets it. Penelope tells him that she wishes she could tell him he'd never be called a slur again but that's unrealistic.
She tells him that there is one thing that stops racism. Penelope takes them to have ice cream. Elena orders hers in Spanish. They start calling her Blanquita. At first, she hates the new nickname but then realizes she finally has her own nickname and likes it.
They start to sing again and a white man comes up and tells them to keep their voices down. Penelope and Lydia go after to tell him off because he stereotyping them. They return to the table and continue to sing as he and his wife leave.
Elena stays back and tells them that they're a Cuban family going to an American home. One of the store's customers says that they can't believe Anne Hathaway stood up for those Mexicans. Elena turns and leaves upset from being referred to as Anne Hathaway and Mexican.
In "The Funeral," the episode starts off with Elena and Alex sitting solemnly with Lydia on the couch. Penelope comes in with pizza, celebrating the fact that she bought one and got two free. Penelope then questions if they hate pizza now or was it the song. She asks them to please say pizza because she felt that jam really worked. The three of them don't respond. Lydia then says that Tía Ophelia is dead.
Penelope says that that is terrible and asks who she is again. Elena comes over and says that they can't remember either. Elena then asks if she's the tía who always wears yellow. Penelope says no, that's Tía Big Bird. Alex then asks if she's the one who always finds new ways to insult you. Penelope makes a face and rolls her eyes saying that's Tía Bitchy. Penelope then asks if none of them can remember who she is.
Schneider comes in and is upset over Ophelia's death and calls it a tragedy. He says that they danced all night at Elena's quinces. Schneider then says Ophelia had scarlet fever as a child and lost her right eye. Coming to a realization, Elena says she was the tía with the eye patch. Alex then calls her Tía Jack Sparrow. Penelope then says she called her Tía Blackbeard but then that got confusing because there is another Tía who had an actual black beard. All of them laugh at this except Lydia who bangs on the table they then apologize crossing their chests.
Penelope says that at least they will get to see the family at the funeral and names of some of them. Lydia says that it will be good to see everybody, except La Diabla, who is her younger sister, Mirtha. Schneider then asks about Tía La Diabla and Elena explains she is Lydia's little sister, Mirtha. Penelope points out that Lydia has been mad at Mirtha for twenty years over a stupid mantilla. Alex starts to point out that Lydia has it, but she interrupts him calling Mirtha a liar. Alex then starts to ask if Lydia had the mantilla the entire time but she cuts him off saying she rightfully accused Mirtha of having it all these years because she does.
She then tells Alex to go fix his hair and then messes it up. He runs off screaming. Schneider asks what a mantilla is, and Elena explains that it is a lace veil that is passed on from bride to bride in the family and the couples' names are stitched into it. Lydia then says it's a Spanish tradition and that's why they will never speak to Mirtha or her family ever again. Lydia then asks Penelope if she's right and Penelope tells her no and that this feud between the two sisters ends now.
Penelope then tells her the reception after the funeral will take place in their home. Lydia then questions La Diabla being at her house and says she will never make it past the cross. Penelope says the only things they are burying is the feud and Tía Amelia. The rest of the family and Schneider correct her to say that her name is Ophelia. An agitated Penelope then says "whoever."
Lydia then asks how Penelope can not take her side, saying family is everything, and she has to hate her sister. Penelope then says she is sick of this old lady beef and that cost her the relationship she had with her best friend, Estrellita. Schneider then says that Estrellita is Mirtha's daughter and Penelope's cousin. Penelope then threatens to tell the whole family that Lydia had a stroke if she doesn't end the feud with Mirtha.
The family is entering the funeral. Lydia and Alex are hug Tía Bitchy and another woman, while Penelope and Elena are greeted by Tía Bitchy. Tía Bitchy asks if Elena still has the one eyebrow and says Penelope must be enjoying her mother's tostones, taking a jab at her weight. They walk away and Elena asks if that was Tía Bitchy. Penelope says yes, and Alex comes rushing over with a red kiss mark on his cheek. He says that he needs to hide from all the Tías, and Lydia comes over. Elena points out Tía Pilar who is with Susan, and that she's always wondered if she's gay. Lydia says that Elena thinks everyone is gay and that Pilar is just eccentric and gives examples of this, saying she lives with her roommate Susan.
Pilar and Susan are seen being affectionate and Elena and Penelope give Lydia a look and Lydia walks off.
Elena then questions Penelope about Pilar. Penelope explains to Elena that Pilar is definitely gay but nobody talks about it they usually just make a gesture throwing their hands back implying it. Elena then tells her that is so offensive and someone needs to in the family needs to accept Pilar and shepherd her out into the light. Alex walks up to them and asks "like a lesbian Jesus?"
Elena then says she loves that because she has long hair, and is a really good carpenter, and she looks good in Birkenstocks. Penelope then shakes her head telling Elena nobody looks good in Birkenstocks. Penelope then says it would be rude to ask and advises Elena not to and Elena reluctantly agrees to this.
She then sits down and is approached by Schneider who tells her he can get her the intel on Pilar. He tells her he can be her double-o six and the point is he is fluent Spanish but nobody expects it from him. Elena then tells him he's not fluent.
Elena then approaches Pilar and gives her a hug. Pilar then asks Elena how she's doing to which Elena tells her that she's gay and came out at her quinces. Pilar then responds that she knows and she was there and she jump-started Penelope's car from her truck.
Pilar then asks Elena how school is going. Elena then tells her as a GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) there and no one should ever be ashamed of who they are, which is gay. Elena then questions how Pilar is, and Pilar responds that her aunt just died. Elena looks at the casket and says "Oh, right." An annoyed Pilar then walks off saying "Oh, look anyone else."
During the reception at the Alverz apartment, in the kitchen, Pilar is drinking tea and Elena approaches her. Pilar then says that Elena doesn't really pick up on social cues, hinting that she wants to be left alone. Elena then questions her about her relationship with Susan and asks if they are having a "friendship ceremony" soon. Pilar then questions what Elena is getting at.
Elena finally says she wants Pilar to feel accepted in the family and asks if she's been hiding something from the family and feels like she can't live life as who she really is. Pilar then says she has been hiding the fact that she converted to Judaism for her wife Susan. Elena then excitedly says Pilar has lesbian jokes and she's sorry Pilar has had to keep being gay a secret from the family.
Pilar then clarifies that it's not a secret and the family knows but the knowledge does not stick with them. She then says her mom says she was afraid of men because she was attacked by a man in college. Pilar then tells her it wasn't a man, it was a squirrel and it was female. Elena then says Pilar should come out to the entire family and Pilar explains that the family are not going to change and she doesn't care because she knows they love her.
Pilar then tells Elena she knows how being gay goes in the stages of first realizing you are gay, and then being excited about it, and then eventually realizing your just a person. Pilar then gives Elen some good advice: that it's really empowering not to be defined by who you makeout with. Elena then says she might be a lesbian Jesus but Pilar is a lesbian god. Pilar then says she might have been called that before and the two laugh and bond over it.
Elena then tells Pilar she doesn't want to lose touch with her when she moves to Tampa. Pilar then clarifies she's not moving to Tampa, she and Susan are just going to Busch Gardens for vacation. Elena then says "yeah you are" and tries to high-five Pilar who just rolls her eyes and puts Elena's arm down.
The family is fighting over the mantilla and Pilar says she has it, as she used it during her wedding to her wife Susan. She then pointedly tells the family they were all at the wedding which confuses them because they had not realized the event was a wedding. Lydia even goes so far as to say she thought it was an affectionate barbeque. Elena then says, "Oh, my god" to this in disbelief. Penelope then says they should at be ashamed at themselves for fighting over nothing. Lydia finally admits she had a stroke and she and Mirtha makeup and apologize to each other.
Penelope then says just because they have their differences doesn't mean they will stop being family. Estrellita then proposes a toast to Ophelia and says at least she was alive to see the president make America great again. Everyone else looks uncomfortable and the episode ends with Penelope saying "I'm, sorry. What?"
In "Checking Boxes," in the opening scene, 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. Elena walks up to Brian and says she's gay and then introduces him to Syd. She explains that Syd uses "they" and "them" pronouns. Brain later leaves saying he needs to make his rounds to the other building tenants.
Later, 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.
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.
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.
In "Penny Pinching," the episode opens with the Alverez family having dinner with Alex's new girlfriend Nora in a restaurant. Nora tells them it's nice to finally meet all of them and thanks Penelope for dinner. Penelope replies that it's not everyday Alex gets a new girlfriend. Sounding somewhat agitated, she adds even if that day was four weeks ago.
Alex apologizes saying he didn't know what he was so worried about. A jealous Lydia then questions how Nora met her grandson. Nora then tells them the story about how she went up to Alex and complimented him on his sneakers. Alex says he responded with a head nod and the two have been dating ever since.
Elena then comments that it's much easier being straight. Lydia then inquires if Alex has said "I love you" to Nora and says Alex said it to her. Penelope then says Elena is gay, Alex is a catch, and Lydia is making everyone uncomfortable. Penelope then adds they need to place their orders before 6 o'clock to get happy hour prices. Alex and Nora are caught making out behind the menu by Penelope, who then scolds them. Everyone then proceeds to place their orders.
After dinner, Nora is telling a story in Spanish indicating her grandfather hates the Red Sox. Lydia finally comes around and admits she loves Nora. Penelope then refers to her as a "freaking delight." Lydia comments that it's nice to be around a young Latina who speaks Spanish. Elena protests she can speak Spanish and Penelope protests that she's young.
Elena then questions if she can see the Overwatch League. Lydia questions if that's where nerds play video games and Elena informs her the word "nerd" is no longer considered an insult. Lydia retorts that it's not meant as a compliment. Elena goes on to say her two favorite teams The L.A. Gladiators and The Shanghai Dragons are playing.
Penelope agrees to loan Elena the car as long as she doesn't tell her about the game afterward and she makes sure to drop everyone else off at their errands first. Elena then excitedly declares it to be the best weekend ever as she gets to see the Overwatch League Finals and make an itinerary. Nora tells her she's hilarious and Alex tells her Elena isn't joking.
The server Bryce then arrives with the check. Elena sees it and tells her mother not to freak out. Penelope says the words "don't freak out" usually cost her money and cause her to freak out. Nora once again thanks Penelope for the dinner and says she was nervous at first but wound up having a fun time getting to know Alex's family.
Penelope gets shocked after she reads the bill. She then goes over to Bryce and demands happy hour prices instead of the full prices. Bryce tells her he put them in the system after 6 o'clock. Penelope then says they ordered their meal before six. The server explains that's when they were put into the system and shrugs. Penelope mimics Bryce's shrug and questions what he means by that. She then asks if he thinks she's a millionaire who can afford full-price pot stickers and reiterates it's happy hour.
An embarrassed Alex tells Nora his mother is not usually like this. Elena then says she is always like this. Penelope then demands to speak to the manager and Bryce tells her he is the manager. Penelope then expresses disbelief that the server is the manager. Penelope asks if Bryce thinks it's her first time complaining in a restaurant. Bryce tells her he doesn't but he finally agrees to give them happy hour prices. Penelope then says Bryce can get a better attitude and apologize. She then turns to Nora and tells her it was lovely to meet her.
Later, in the car, Elena is driving with Lydia in the backseat and Alex in the passenger seat. She then tells them she has the itinerary all planned out: first, Alex will be dropped you off so he can purchase his sneakers. Then she will drop Lydia off at the fish market, and get to the Overwatch finals before the first gladiator is fragged!
Lydia tells her she needs to be dropped at the fish market first before the Cuban crabs are gone. Elena tells her that she can't drive anyone under twenty unless an adult is present. Lydia questions if it has to be her, and Elena says it can be any other adult. Lydia then says she has just the person.
There is then a cut to Doctor Berkowitz entering the car.
In the car, Elena is driving with Alex. Elena asks Alex if she can let him off and Alex tells her if she stops first which Elena agrees to. She stops the car and Alex gets out. Elena then excitedly says her plan is working and she'll make it to the Overwatch League. Doctor Berkowitz tells her he loves it when a plan comes together. Elena then remembers he is still with her in the car and they can use the carpool lane.
Elena tells him he can just stay in the car while she watches the game. Doctor Berkowitz tells her he is lonely and interested in seeing the game. Elena gets excited that they are finally going to make it. She then gets a call from Lydia who tells her she has an emergency.
There is then a cut to Lydia entering the car with a cooler filled with crabs. Lydia tells them her bus driver drove away after she informed him she had a case full of crabs.
In the car, Elena is driving with Lydia and Doctor Berkowitz in the back. Lydia says maybe she can tell the bus driver her crabs are for emotional support and Elena says she is not stopping for anything. She then gets a call from Alex. There is then a cut to Alex entering the car and he says he decided not to replace his old shoes because his current ones brought him and Nora together.
Alex then demands to be dropped off at home and Elena says she doesn't want to miss the final. Elena finally finds a parking spot and declares they are going to make it. Elena makes a sharp turn causing the cooler of crabs to spill on Doctor Berkowitz.
Just then, the rest of the family arrives home with Doctor Berkowitz. Elena tells Penelope not to freak out. Penelope tells her she doesn't need this today as she just barfed on an area rug. Elena suggests that she sits down. Elena finally tells her that they finally got to the game and the parking lot was full, so she parked on the street, and it's important to know that at this point in the story, they were ahead eight dollars.
Penelope presses Elena further and Elena tells her while they were in the game, the car was broken into and the window was smashed. She goes on to say which is probably how the pigeon got in. Elena then says she doesn't know what he ate but it did not agree with him. They chased the pigeon away but they probably should have closed the car door first because it got hit by a scooter. Elena continues saying the guy on the scooter was fine. Elena finally gets to the point and says the window was smashed because she had left her laptop on the backseat and was stolen.
Penelope then tells her it was a really dumb mistake and Elena had been lectured many times about leaving valuables in the car in plain view.
Later, in the kitchen, when Elena is washing dishes Penelope apologizes for getting so upset. Penelope continues to explain where she is coming from: she has never had a good relationship with money. Penelope explains there was a time they lived with Lydia because they couldn't afford to pay rent after Victor left. Penelope then says they are always one catastrophe away from being broke. However, this situation is not a catastrophe and she can loosen up.
Elena then tells her mother about the system for saving money she had created when she started working for Schnider and the spreadsheet she created on her laptop. Elena says she will work extra shifts for Schneider to make up for this situation.
In the living room, Lydia is sitting on the new couch and Alex, Penelope, and Elena enter the room. Elena then questions if the new couch makes the TV seem smaller. Alex then says if they're buying a new TV, they are going to need to splurge on surround sound. Lydia adds they should also get a state-of-the-art soft-pretzel carousel. Penelope proceeds to cry on the couch. The episode ends with Elena pointing out Penelope's tears just bead and roll right off the fabric of the new couch.
In "Boundaries," Penelope in her therapy group, telling them about how Alex walked in on her masturbating and that he was traumatized. She explains Alex had gone out with Lydia and Elena but had forgotten his phone at home, which is how he caught her. She asks them how she should approach talking to him about it, but they all suggest that she doesn't. However, Penelope insists on doing so because she wants him to know that masturbation is perfectly normal and healthy.
When she comes home, Elena tries to talk to Lydia about the female orgasm and tries to give her a book about self-pleasure, but Lydia throws it in the trash. Penelope enters and Lydia tells her that she set up a Tinder profile for her. Schneider comes in and says he helped her. Penelope then gets angry about how her mom invaded her privacy and meddled in her love life. She decides that maybe Alex is right and that the family may need some new boundaries. Lydia and Penelope have a big fight while Schneider watches and Alex leaves.
The next morning, Penelope sees the kids eating and Lydia is standing in front of her room. Penelope tries asking how Lydia slept, but Lydia refuses, saying that Penelope said she wanted privacy. Then Dr. Berkowitz opens the curtains to her bedroom in a bathrobe, poorly acting, saying that they caught him leaving in his "post-coital glow." Lydia says she knows they have a lot of questions but she will not answer them because Penelope wanted boundaries. However, Penelope knows that they are acting, and says it was "the world's worst breakfast theater" and then she leaves for work.
She walks in on Lydia, pretending to talk on the phone to Dr. Berkowitz, saying that she is "late." But Penelope notices that the "phone" is actually the remote to the TV. Penelope apologizes to Lydia, saying that understands that she meddles in her life it's because she loves her. Lydia said she would do anything for her happiness. Penelope decides they are back to no boundaries expect she is putting locks on the doors. Lydia says she met the most perfect man at the grocery store but was told by her daughter not to interfere in her love life, so she said nothing. A knock at the door is heard and Lydia then asks “or did I?”
It turns out to be Max who tells Penelope he ran into her mother at the grocery store and she overshared a lot of things. Lydia then quietly motions for the kids and herself to leave in order to give Max and Lydia privacy.
Penelope, Schneider, Alex, and Elena are in the living room. Lydia comes in from behind the curtain with her phone and says Chago's daughter Margarita is getting baptized, and they're all invited. Everyone else gets excited over the news. Penelope then says the baby's real name is Alice but her nickname is Margarita because that's how she got made.
The Alvarez family spends the episode discussing strategies of how to get through the possibility of the Reyes family staying with them,as it is revealed they are coming early, illustrated through fantasy sequences. This is a concern due to the Alverezes being more liberal and the Reyeses being more conservative and the clashing view points causing tension between the two families.
There is a recurring gag where Alex receives money from Juanito Reyes any time Alex says something he likes.
The episode ends with Penelope saying she wishes they didn't have to talk about this, but now she knows she can. The Alvarezes hear a knock at the door. Lydia asks if they were expecting someone and says she had a little rum holding up the bottle. Penelope then says she knows the Reyeses are nuts but they are family and the Alverezes love the anyway, despite their different beliefs.
The Reyeses are seen standing in the hall having a similar conversation, saying they know the Alverezes are crazy liberals but they love them anyway.
Penelope opens the door and everyone greets each other and the Alvarezes, Schneider, and the Reyeses embracing in a group hug.
Penelope and Elena have a very close mother-daughter relationship. As the older child, Penelope trusts Elena to be the more responsible one.
They didn't get along so well at the beginning of the series, because her mother wanted her to have a quinceañera, but Elena didn't want one; as she thought they were a sexist tradition. Elena ultimately decides to do it if it will make her mom happy, saying she was waiting for a real reason to have a quinces.
Although they were close, her mother still tends to have rules for Elena. Penelope used to have a rule, that while she is in high school, Elena wasn't allowed to date because she needed to study for school.
When she learned Elena had Josh Flores over, without her permission, she got very angry. Penelope's overprotective instincts made her worry, that Elena might have been pressured into having sex with Josh. However, Elena assures Penelope that she wasn't having sex with him. She soon came out to her mother as gay, and that she only liked Josh as a friend.
Penelope feels weird about Elena being gay at first, but she never held any prejudice towards her. She eventually learns to completely accept her daughter as gay. She even lifts the no-dating rule and allows Elena to start dating Syd, but she still monitors them and makes sure they aren't doing anything inappropriate in Elena's bedroom.
When Elena's father learns that Elena is gay and starts being bigoted towards her, Penelope is the one to stand up for Elena. In the end, she helps Elena and Victor to start talking, and rekindle their relationship. Penelope tries to be a better role model for Elena, supporting her daughter when it comes to her sexuality, or what she wants to do in life. No matter what, Penelope will always love Elena.
When Alex was born, Elena was not happy because she wanted a puppy. However, in the present day, she loves her little brother. Even though they often annoy each other, they know they still love each other, even if Elena and Alex don't have much in common.
Alex gets easily annoyed, by Elena's social justice and environmental activism, and often finds it embarrassing. Sometimes, he will do little things like wasting water, to spite her. However, when Alex accidentally overhears Elena talking to herself about how she likes girls, Alex promises he won't tell anyone. This makes Alex the first person Elena came out to. Although he is a little confused at first, about his sister liking other girls, he still doesn't care who she likes to date.
Lydia is Elena's maternal grandmother who she lives with. Lydia and Elena have a good relationship, but they often get on each other's nerves. Lydia often shows favoritism to Alex over Elena, to where she constantly compliments Alex but always criticizes Elena in things like her appearance and non-traditional values. Elena often corrects her grandmother when she says something problematic. However, Elena's passion for feminism and social justice often annoys Lydia, who is more conservative.
When Elena comes out to Lydia, Lydia says she thinks it's beautiful and completely accepts her, but when she is alone with Penelope, she admits she has a problem with Elena being gay. But then she remembers the Pope saying "when it comes to gay people, who is he to judge them?" Which prompts her to accept Elena being gay. In To Zir, With Love, Lydia even helps Elena get a girlfriend by giving her love advice,
Elena is often concerned for Lydia. In Roots, she is afraid that Lydia might be sent back to Cuba if she doesn't become an American citizen and convinces her to take the citizenship test. In Benefit with Friends, Elena worries about Lydia's health and bans her from wearing high heels and doing strenuous activity. However, Lydia wants to continue wearing high heels and dancing because she doesn't want to remember who she was, she wants to be who she is. She eventually agrees to wear safer shoes for Elena's sake.
When it comes to it, Lydia is always there to support Elena. In A Penny and a Nicole, She was ready to 'flip the table' if Victor he said anything homophobic to her. In Outside, when Elena says some guys were harassing her and Syd, she says she will "kill" the guys in Alex's place so he doesn't get his hands bloody.
Elena and Victor didn't really have much in common. Whenever they video chat, they just stare at each other until the screen "froze." When Elena came out as gay, just before Elena's quinceañera, Victor did not accept her. He told her that he didn't know what she was talking about because she was too young and that being gay is just a crazy phase that kids think is cool to do.
When he says Elena came out in a suit at her quinceañera, Victor looked very angry. When's it's time for the father-daughter dance, it's revealed that he left. So, her family comes and dances with her instead. In Season 2, Elena and Victor are not on good terms. Elena is very frustrated that Victor abandoned her. In "What Happened," Elena and Penelope learn that Victor is in town, so Penelope and Elena have a teary-eyed conversation with him, and they end up sort of making up and go back to talking again.
In Season 3, when Elena learns that her father is coming with his new girlfriend, she is apprehensive about seeing him. She still feels weird about him even if they made up. When she learns he is getting married to his girlfriend and she goes to his wedding she laments that she has to be nice and be there for him on his big day even though he wasn't there's for her on her quinces.
Close friend; landlord
Schneider is often there's for Elena. Even though Elena thinks he is annoying and is a privileged rich guy, she enjoys his company. He helps her when she needed a job, and was her intern for the Twitch channel she tried to start up. When the Twitch channel didn't work out, he trains her to be a handy-woman for the apartment. Schneider is also the biggest shipper of Elena and Syd, as he tries very hard to come up with a relationship name for them.
For more info, visit the Elena and Carmen page.
Carmen is one of Elena's best friends during Season 1. In "No Mass," Carmen and Elena spend the day together working on an immigration project. In "Strays," they seem to be very close and Penelope and Lydia become very suspicious of their relationship. Lydia even suggests their relationship is "queer." When Penelope tries to make Carmen go home, Elena gets very upset. After Penelope catches Carmen trying to sneak back into the house, Penelope demands Elena for an explanation.
It is revealed that Elena has been sneaking Carmen into the apartment and Carmen has been secretly living in Elena's room. The reason is that Carmen's parents were deported back to Mexico and she didn't know what to do. Elena truly cared for her friend and didn't want her to leave, which is why she kept it a secret so her mom didn't kick her out. When Carmen goes to move to Texas where her older brother lives, Elena and Carmen say goodbye and leave. In "Pride & Prejudice," Carmen praises Penelope for being so cool about Elena coming out as gay over video chat. In "Quinces," Schneider flew Carmen out to be there for Elena's quinces. Carmen isn't seen in Season 2 or Season 3.
Significant other, (or "Syd-nificant other")
For more info, visit the Elena and Syd page.
Elena first meets Syd in To Zir, With Love when she began her Feminists Gamers of Echo Park group. Syd reveals that they like Elena and they begin dating. They go on their first date in Locked Down. They are super similar in the sense that they are both very passionate about feminism and social justice, but Elena is more into it than Syd is.
When Elena only wanted to do protests and social justice causes as dates instead of a normal date, Syd had their first fight with Elena, because they wanted to go to Benihana, but Elena wouldn't listen to them. In The First Time, Syd and Elena plan to have sex for the first time and rent a hotel room together. But Syd calms Elena when she starts to freak out a secret says that don't have to have sex yet if she isn't ready. However, Elena begins making out with them, then offscreen, they end up having sex with each other.
- She is the only member of her family who didn't speak Spanish, only knowing English, until she later asked Lydia Riera, her grandmother, to teach her in Season 2, becoming bilingual.
- It is revealed in "Not Yet," that Elena stopped speaking Spanish when she was a child and Lydia yelled at her for messing up her outfit in Spanish. Elena stopped listening to her, and over time lost her Spanish. Lydia worried that she lost her "cubanidad" (the state of being Cuban).
- She is the first LGBTQ+ character to come out on the show that is not an adult.
- When she came out as a lesbian to her father in Quinces, he rejected her, telling her it wasn't who she was which caused her to realize that people would hate her just because she's a lesbian, before knowing anything else about her.
- It is highly likely that Penelope Alvarez fears for Elena's safety as a lesbian teenager, stating that her house is "the last place that should have a gun," noting that they had two teenagers in the house and mentioning Elena's sexuality, pointing to the risk of suicide among LGBT+ youth.
- According to Penelope Alvarez, if she got "bent out of shape" every time a man said something stupid, Elena would've never been born.
- She is a teenage activist and feminist, participating in marches and political events.
- Elena's laptop cover changes from saying "Peace & Love" in season one to a shimmery rainbow in Season 2.
- In "The Man," it is revealed Elena had a hermit crab named Fabulouso who Lydia accidentally killed and it is one of the secrets that exists between Alex and Lydia.
- She refers to her significant other, Syd as her "Syd-nificant other" instead of a gendered term because they're non-binary.
- Alex refers to Elena as Lesbian Jesus in "The Funeral" which is also the nickname of singer Hayley Kiyoko.