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"Perfect"[1] is the fifth episode of Season 4 of One Day at a Time. The episode aired on Pop TV on April 21, 2020.


Alex needs a large amount of money right away, worrying Penelope. Meanwhile, Schneider and Avery must contend with an unwanted gift from Doctor Berkowitz.


In the Alvarez living room, Elena is working on a tri-fold poster board covered with color-coded index cards. Lydia is seated at the dining table. Penelope enters the room and then asks Elena how her essay for Yale is going. Elena hesitantly tells her she has narrowed it down to a few options.

Penelope suggests mailing the whole board and Elena tells her the website said specifically not to do that. Elena states that she can't believe how well rounded she is and asks if she's too interesting. Lydia retorts by telling her she's not.

Elena explains how each color represents a different aspect of her life that is essay worthy. Like red is "Growing Up Cuban," orange is "My Dad Abandoned Me But Got Into Recovery So We're Cool Now," and purple is just general gay stuff. She goes on to explain that "General Gay Stuff" is also her ranking in the lesbian army.

Alex enters and asks how the planning is going for his quinces. Penelope questions what he's talking about. He elaborates, saying since Elena had a quinces, obviously, he would also be given a party to celebrate his coming of age, especially since the Alvarez home is a house of gender equality. A confused Penelope looks at Lydia and asks again what Alex is talking about. Alex then says if it's too much trouble to have a quinces, could he just have cash instead.

Penelope with a newfound realization realizes all her son wanted was money. She then goes on to say she thought Alex was "woke" but realizes now he is broke. Penelope then says she actually loves the idea of throwing Alex a quinces. Alex questions this. His mother explains that he would think the day is about him but in reality, Penelope can show what a great mom she is to other people.

Penelope then tells Alex his scam to obtain money didn't work and he played himself. She then tells him they are going through with the plan to throw him a quinces. Lydia then gets excited with a day focused on her grandson while Elena gets excited by the idea of breaking gender roles and have a quinceañero. Penelope then says she wants a mother-son dance and Lydia says she wants a "mistaken-for-his-mother-son dance."

The entire family starts singing "Quinces, papito, quinces!" in celebration and excitement. Alex finally breaks down and tells them to stop it and he doesn't really want a quinceañero. Penelope then tells him this isn't really about him anymore. The family starts singing again. Alex finally blurts out the confession he just wants five hundred dollars. A shocked Penelope gasps hearing the amount and questions what he needs it for.

Lydia then asks Alex what he's thinking, asking his mother for so much money and then offers to give it to him herself. Penelope says she would love to see Lydia pull five hundred dollars from her shirt. Lydia says she will take it out of her savings account. She just needs to grab her map and a shovel. Alex apologizes for asking. He then subsequently leaves, and Penelope asks if she should be worried about that. Lydia laughs saying she does have money and pulls out a ketchup packet from her shirt and says it's a ketchup packet.

In Schneider and Avery's apartment, they hear a knock at the door. Schneider answers the door, and it winds up being Leslie. He then gives them an early baby gift of a creepy-looking clown dummy, saying he knew they were coming in for their ultrasound, but he couldn't wait to give it to them.

The doctor then tells them to meet Ruckus the clown. He explains to them that Ruckus has been in his family for years and he wanted to pass him on to them. Avery then comments she bets he wanted to pass the clown on to them. Leslie goes on to explain Ruckus was his confidant and caretaker and the best spoon you ever spooned.

Schneider hesitantly says they couldn't take something so obviously meant for Leslie. Avery then exclaims that Leslie should take Ruckus out of there. The doctor then insists he has thought about it long and hard about it and his first childhood memory was of Rukus's cold, pale face.

In an attempt to hide what she's really thinking Avery starts to say she doesn't want that for her child but then catches herself and instead says that she doesn't know what to say. Leslie enthusiastically says he's glad the couple love Rukus as much as he does. He then says they remind him of him and his ex-wife Sophie.

He then goes on to say he and Sophie were filled with so much hope and joy. Leslie then says then the baby's born and hope and joy are replaced with fear and regret. He then says they started turning on each other. He then says lawyers got involved and started "circling like hyenas around the rotting corpse of the relationship." Schneider and Avery give him a blank stare, and Leslie looks at his watch and says it's time for him to go.

In the Alvarez apartment, Alex enters the living room. Penelope dramatically opens the curtains in a similar fashion to the way Lydia normally does it. She then welcomes her son home. Alex is startled and screams. Penelope then says she understands why Lydia opens the curtains in such a fashion, as it is a real power move.

Alex then inquires what his mother was doing back there. Penelope says that she will be the one asking the questions. She then asks why he needs five hundred dollars. She explains she Googled "What does a teenage boy need five hundred dollars for?" and it auto filled with some really disturbing stuff. Alex then tells her he's over it. Alex tells her she'll think it's stupid. Penelope presses him further until he admits he needs it for a fashion design class.

Penelope then starts laughing. Alex tells her he knew she'd think it's stupid. She then says she's just relieved they don't have to give Elena's room to a Komodo Dragon. She then tells him she thinks it's great. She then asks Alex why he didn't simply just tell her that. He explains it's because it's not academic and he figured she might think it's a waste of money.

Lydia does the motion of opening her curtains only to realize they are already open and says it is a waste of money. She then questions who opened her curtains and Penelope tells her they were already open. Lydia looks suspicious at this. Lydia then asks Alex why he wanted to pay for classes when he couldn't just ask her to teach him for free, seeing that she is the best seamstress to learn from. Alex explains he wants to learn street style.

Lydia then responds that she knows the streets and then asks how she gets to the farmer's market. Alex asks for his mother's help. Penelope then says she's not going to make Alex go through what she went through with Lydia. Lydia then says, "Excuse me?" Penelope reminds her of the time she wanted to take a hip-hop class.

Lydia then says she did teach her. Penelope then says there are no castanets in hip-hop. Lydia then says if there were it would be popular. Lydia then tells Alex to imagine them wearing matching homemade street outfits. Alex says he is definitely imagining it.

Penelope then tells Alex he can take the class. However, she's not giving him the money. She goes on to explain she is investing in the future of fashion, which is him. She goes on to say she can't wait to see him on Project Runway. Not as a contestant, but as a judge. Penelope then enthusiastically says she's going look "fly as hell," so she's in!

Alex then tells his mother she's the best. Alex leaves and Lydia is surprised. Lydia then says she needs to mend her broken heart with a thread and needle. Penelope then tells Lydia to do what she needs to do, and she's made up her mind, Alex is taking the class. Penelope dramatically closes the curtains and says she loves this. Lydia then questions what's going on.

Later, in the living room, Elena walks in with her poster board. Penelope once again questions how the essay is going. Elena then says she's got nothing as she opens the poster show that it is disorganized and with more cards placed erratically. Penelope then says it looks great and she's just a ball of red yarn from away from cracking this murder case.

Elena then explains she stayed up all night writing fifteen different essays only to discover that all of them sucked! She explains she needs Yale to fall in love with her and this will just make them file a restraining order. Penelope then reassures her it will be fine.

Elena freaks out further and says she should just get her GED and start backpacking! She then says maybe she should just go back to her first idea about how she wants to put the "I in environmental." Lydia retorts that she thinks Elena put the "mental in environmental."

Elena then says she can't even tell if that's a good idea or not. She then closes her poster. She then says she's fine and chaos is part of her process, she then leaves.

Alex walks in and greets Penelope and Lydia. Penelope then questions how his fashion class was and when does his line come out so she can buy it a year later at Nordstrom Rack. Lydia then asks him to explain what the strangers taught him. Penelope encourages him to show them.

Alex then says it's just a simple pair of shorts and it's his first project so they shouldn't get too excited. Penelope then tells him the shorts are really good. Alex thanks her.

Penelope then says she knew he was crushing it and her investment is paying off already. Penelope then asks Lydia if Alex did a great job. Lydia responds that she wouldn't call it a "street style." Penelope then tells Alex to keep up the good work and that she would like him to make her a skirt for his mother next week, the woman who made this all possible. Alex tells her he'll see what he can do as he leaves.

Once he leaves Penelope says to Lydia she's got to admit, this is pretty good. Lydia then says she admits nothing and it's obvious he got his talent from her. She then notices the label says "Made in China." Penelope then realizes and says Alex lied to them. Lydia then says it's worse than she thinks the shorts are dry clean only.

In Schneider and Avery's apartment, they are sitting on the couch reading pregnancy and parenting books with Ruckus the clown between them. Schneider says he was just thinking about what Leslie said about his marriage falling apart after kids. Avery then admits that freaked her out too. Avery then goes on to say that's not them and they are in love, and they've never had a fight. Schneider admits she's right. They try to kiss but instead wind up kissing Ruckus.

Schneider then suggests they get Ruckus out of there. Avery suggests they throw him in the trash but to make sure no one sees, as she doesn't want to hurt the doctor's feelings. Schneider says he was going to take it to the baby's room. Avery questions this in disbelief. Schneider then says he thinks the clown is awesome and can't believe the doctor wanted to part with him and says he feels safer with it.

Avery then tells him he is not putting it near the baby's crib. Schneider then says he needs to be in the crib as the doctor said he was a spooner. Schneider then declares the doll to be his new best friend and hit's his head against the wall as he takes him to the baby's room. He then asks Rukus if he's OK to which Avery reminds him he isn't real.

In Alex's room, Penelope enters and once again tells Alex what a great job he did and the shorts look just like something you would find in a store. Alex then says the effort to make the shorts took a lot out of him and he's going to take a nap. Penelope then says Alex thought of every detail even the recept catching him in the lie. Alex then gets up in alarm and asks if Penelope really found the receipt. Penelope says now she doesn't have to as she caught him in the act.

Alex then apologizes and says he can explain. Penelope tells him he better explain because he lied to her. Alex explains he quit the class and got a refund. Penelope then asks why he didn't just tell her that and she wouldn't force him to go if she hated. Alex then tells her he didn't hate it, he loved it. He explains he was bad at it, so he quit. He then explains he bought the shorts so he could avoid the conversation.

Penelope then asks if his plan was to keep buying clothes until she showed up to a fake graduation looking fantastic. Alex then admits that was the plan. Penelope then says he should relax it was just one class and it's OK not to be perfect. Alex says that Elena, Penelope, and Lydia have all accomplished things and he's just a dude with a great smile.

Penelope tells him he's good at lots of stuff. Alex then says he's not good at fashion. He goes on to say that everyone else in his class made a pair of shorts and he spent the entire duration just trying to thread the sewing machine. Alex then says he figured if he wasn't good at it, it's better not to do it.

Penelope then tells him the best thing is to persevere and not quit. Alex then questions this saying she already told him he could quit. She explains that was back when she believed he hated it. Penelope then tells him she expects him to work until he's miserable. She then asks Alex if he believes she will love him any less if he isn't perfect. Alex says he'd rather not find out and she apologizes for making him feel that way. She then reiterates that learning is a process and he tells her he'll go back to the class.

Elena enters the room confused and acting crazy. She says she heard voices and asks what's going on. She then leaves saying the voices aren't coming from the room. Penelope then says "Is this fire out? 'Cause mama's got a real inferno over there." She proceeds to leave the room to follow Elena.

In the doctor's office, Schneider and Avery are waiting for Leslie. They are arguing over what type of butter is better almond or peanut butter and Avery is upset Schneider didn't give her a chance to weigh in before purchasing the almond butter. He tells her next time she can do the online shopping. Leslie enters with a nurse and asks if they are ready for their ultrasound.

They then see their baby in the ultrasound and apologize to each other agreeing that their baby is beautiful. Leslie then says if he and his ex-wife Sophie had one ounce of this type of love they might still just be separated.

Schneider then tells him they have been on edge since he came over the other day and told them how kids ruined his marriage. Leslie then says he totally misremembered that. He says things actually went downhill after his wife slept with her podiatrist and ironically, he swept her off her feet.

Schneider then says they have been fighting all week after he said that. Leslie says that's crazy as they are perfect for each other and their baby's perfect too. Avery then asks if he can tell whether it's a boy or a girl. Leslie misunderstands and says, of course, he can because he's a doctor not realizing the couple wanted to know the baby's gender. He then leaves the room. Schneider then says he sort of did want to know and then says it may be fun not to know. Avery agrees.

Schneider apologizes for getting worked up about Ruckus. He goes on to explain he was such a lonely kid and would have loved to have anybody. Avery then says she is Schneider's buddy and their baby doesn't need a creepy stuffed companion because they'll have their parents.

They kiss again and rub noses. Avery then exclaims they got through their first fight. Schneider then thanks Ruckus for helping them. Avery then asks what the best way to thank him might be.

Leslie enters the break room and glances at Penelope's desk where Ruckus is sitting. Thinking the doll is Penelope he asks if she changed her hair. He realizes it's actually Ruckus. He reads a note: "I'm sick. Homesick." He hugs Rukus and admits he missed him.

In the Alvarez living room, Lydia is putting up a sign that says "LYDIA'S CURTAIN. DO NOT TOUCH." She clears her throat so Penelope sees it. Penelope then questions if Lydia really thinks a sign is going to stop her. She then says she is parking in a loading zone right now.

Alex enters wearing a jacket he made. He tells them class was great and he really made the jacket himself this time. Penelope gives her encouragement and says that's how he can get better. Lydia then tells him if she cannot be his teacher, she will be his model.

Elena comes in and says she finally wrote the perfect college essay and her adviser said it was the best one she's read in years. Penelope congratulated her on this and they are all killing it. She tells Alex she's a little bummed at not having a quinceañero. Mostly because she was looking forward to the mother-son dance. Penelope starts some music. Alex then says he guesses she deserves this one dance.

Penelope rips the sleeves of the jacket

Penelope then says he's going to make her one of these cool jackets. The jacket's sleeves fall off when Penelope touches them. Penelope then says she can also rock a vest.

Lydia then runs from the window and tells Penelope she is getting a ticket. Penelope runs out of the apartment. Lydia then says there is no ticket. The episode ends with Alex and Lydia then dancing to music.





Click here for the transcript.


  • In this episode, Alex shows an interest in fashion design for the first time.
    • He learns to stick with something he is passionate about even if he is not good at it right away.
  • This episode is the first time Schneider and Avery are seen having a fight.
  • Doctor Berkowitz's ex-wife's name is revealed to be Sophie.
    • Sophie left him after having an affair with her podiatrist.
  • Elena struggles to write her essay for Yale.
    • The end of the episode shows her success in writing it, her guidance counselor even referring to it as the best one she's read in years.

Notes and references

Episode Guide