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Penny Pinching[1] is the second episode of Season 4 of One Day at a Time. The episode aired on March 31, 2020.


After a disastrous evening, Penelope realizes she needs to change her relationship to money and do the unthinkable—buy something new. Meanwhile, Elena struggles to make it to an important e-sports match.


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.

The family returns home and Alex tells Penelope she embarrassed him in front of his new girlfriend. Penelope then questions if Alex wants to impress Nora by acting like a big shot who is irresponsible with money. Alex responds by saying he wants to impress his girlfriend by not letting her believe he has a crazy mother. Elena then says now Alex is not being realistic as she leaves the room. Lydia says if Nora breaks up with the family she will never forgive Penelope as she closes the curtain to her room.

Penelope then tells them all to relax and she was fine. Alex says he understands the value of saving money but then was not the time or place to be threatening the server. Just then Schneider slides from under the couch saying that he agrees with Alex.

A startled Penelope then says she is used to him coming through the door unannounced but she is not used to him coming from under the furniture. Schneider then tells her he was fixing the janky couch because Penelope is way too cheap to buy a new one. Schneider then tells her she's making better money as a nurse practitioner and she can afford the new couch. Penelope admits it's true, but she still needs to be careful how she spends it and has a fear of going broke.

Schneider tells her she has a scarcity mindset and points out the couch has rips, lumps, and he uncovers a leak and points out that couches aren't supposed to have leaks as they are not hooked to plumbing. He then tells her that the sofa is crying.

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 Alverez living room, Penelope declares it the perfect Sunday. She opens a bag of Cheetos and gets ready to watch TV. Just as she sits down, however, the couch breaks in half. Penelope then says out loud that isn't good.

At the furniture store

At the furniture store with Schneider, Penelope says she does not want a new couch. Schneider then tries once again to reassure her she can afford it. Schnider then tells her he knows she didn't want to spend money frivolously so he chose the store with the funniest name. A sales associate name Shawn welcomes them to So-fa So-Good. The name causes Schneider to laugh.

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.

At the furniture store, Schneider tells Penelope as he pets the couch that it's not going to hurt her. Penelope proceeds to pet the couch with skepticism. Schneider then asks which one she wants to take home. The sales associate Shawn shows up asking if he can help and Penelope snaps at him saying she is not ready for his help.

Penelope finally finds a couch that feels right and that she can imagine being in her home. Schneider then congratulates her on her new couch purchase. Penelope then laughs and then throws up on a rug. Schneider says he guesses they will be buying the rug as well.

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.

At home, Penelope is enjoying the new couch and tells Schneider she has made peace with money. Schnider asks if he can put the old couch in the Alvarez Family Museum. A confused Penelope tells him the Alvarez Museum is just a few knick-knacks displayed in the hallway. Schnider then says it's definitely not an empty apartment on the sixth floor called the Alvarez Museum Norte. Penelope then says she's too happy to be creeped out.

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.





  • Eugene Byrd as Shawn/Salesman
  • Andrew Leeds as Bryce/Waiter


  • This is the first episode appearance of Nora. Her first series mention was in "Checking Boxes," before she was actually introduced her on the show.
  • It is revealed that Schneider turned an empty apartment on the sixth floor into the "Alvarez Museum Norte."
  • The Alvarezes get a new couch.
  • Elena's favorite teams in the Overwatch League are The L.A. Gladiators and The Shanghai Dragons.


Penny Pinching Transcript

Notes and references

Episode Guide