The animated “One Day at a Time” special centers around Penelope’s conservative family visiting. Penelope dreads that with the election coming up, they won’t be able to avoid fighting over politics. The Alvarez family spends the episode discussing strategies of how to get through it, illustrated through fantasy sequences.
During this unprecedented time, the writers wanted to find a way to keep the Alvarez family on camera together and create more entertaining content for the fans who are self-distancing at home. This animated special gives an exciting opportunity to imagine the Alvarez family in a colorful new way, while continuing to tell important and relevant stories.
The Politics Episode centered on a visit from Penelope's conservative cousin Estrellita, Tía Mirtha, and Tío Juanito. With the presidential election looming, they won't be able to avoid fighting over politics.
The episode begins with Penelope, Schneider, Alex, and Elena 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.
Schneider then questions if he can be the baby's godfather and Penelope tells him he can't because he is not Cuban, Catholic, or family. Lydia then says she needs to spritz the apartment with holy water because her sister Mirtha is coming with Estrellita and the rest of the family from Miami. She then goes on to say Mirtha is La Diabla and the room darkens and thunder flashes behind her.
Lydia then proceeds to spritz Febreeze, which startles both Penelope and Schneider. She then explains the Febreeze is only temporary until she can get actual holy water. Elena then questions this, saying she thought they settled the mantilla feud and are all good now. Alex then says no, that Mirtha made a comment about Lydia's croquettes being dry and now it's back on.
Lydia then says the only thing that will be dry is every eye at Mirtha's funeral. Penelope then says their old lady feud won't be the problem this time. Alex then questions what the problem will be this time.
Elena remarks that she always forgets the Reyes family is conservative because they are Cuban like the Alvarezes. Penelope then says they should be fine, as long as they stay away from the topic of politics. She then goes on to say it's a baptism and after the service, they can gossip about how Chago and Valentina got married seven months ago and Margarita is a miracle baby.
Lydia then questions what they will do after, as the Reyeses are staying with them. Penelope starts to protest this, saying she knows they are family but simultaneously everyone says they can't send family to hotels like cold Americans. Lydia then says it's good that they get it.
Penelope then says they have to make an exception this time because the best way to keep the family together, is to keep them apart. Lydia then says the family will stay with her in her bedroom.
The Alvarezes imagine their guests sharing Lydia's bed with her and Mirtha sleeping on the floor. In the fantasy, Lydia tells Mirtha she hopes the floor isn't as hard as her breaded steak. Mirtha then retorts that if she wanted to hear from a screeching old bag she'd play with the zipper of her sleeping bag. Lydia then says the only thing she wishes had a zipper was Mirtha's mouth.
Lydia then says the Reyeses have to stay because they are family. Alex then says he agrees with that and he hopes the Reyeses stay as long as they want. He then says he loves Tío ATM, which is what he calls Juanito because he gives Alex twenty dollars every time he says something he likes or agrees with.
There is then a fantasy of Alex asking Juanito how great is it to be Cuban and handing him a twenty-dollar bill.
Penelope then says this is a disaster and Schneider suggests keeping it light and sticking to non-controversial topics. Penelope imagines herself and Estrellita talking about L.A. weather and Estrellita implying global warming isn't real. Alex suggests that she try talking about sports. Penelope then imagines Estrellita saying that the football guy was disrespecting the troops by kneeling down peacefully. Schneider then suggests they talk about the movies. Penelope then says Estrellita will mention how if a person is born with a penis they should use the men's room.
Alex then questions why that would come up and Penelope snaps that the subject always does come up.
Elena then says that the Reyeses should stay with them. Penelope then says Elena of all people should be against the idea because she disagrees with the Reyes family staying with them because she disagrees with them on everything. Elena then admits that's true, and when she came out to Juan he simply told her she hadn't met the right boy yet. In the flashback, Alex then tells Juan it's because they don't make them like him anymore. Juan then gives Alex another twenty dollars.
Elena then says they live in Florida, which is a swing state so the Alvareses shouldn't let them leave until December. There is then a thunderclap behind her. Penelope then says she is putting her foot down, saying the Reyeses can't stay with them, as politics and family don't mix. Lydia then gets a notification on her phone saying that the Reyes family has landed.
She lets the family know, and Penelope says the baptism is next week and wonders why the Reyeses have decided to come early. Lydia then says they are taking a mini-vacation to do all the things they can't do in Florida and lists them. Penelope tells her she is literally just describing Florida and it will just be a week of fighting and yelling.
Alex asks how that would be different than any other week and Schneider asks if he can fix everything. Schneider then goes on to say he loves how the Alvareses talk about everything. Elena then asks why he's telling them what they already know. Schneider then says they should use his dysfunctional family as a guide and just not talk to each other.
Lydia says that's impossible and Penelope elaborates, saying that Lydia Facetimes her while she's using the restroom. Lydia then clarifies that is only when she's cooking otherwise, she would just walk in.
Schneider then says they have got to retrain themselves and gives the example of how he and his father went for weeks without speaking to each other. Schneider then says his father left a Post-it note on his door that said "I'm not sure you're mine." He then says he saved it and looks at it whenever he thinks his father might love him. Alex then questions, if everybody should do that and Schneider, says yes, because then you won’t fight. He then says you keep the feelings inside, where the only person they can harm is yourself.
Penelope imagines the whole family sitting at the table. Everyone is eating and being quiet, trying not to say anything while a whistle that sounds like a teapot is heard. Elena’s glasses break. Everyone’s head explodes except for Juanito’s. Alex comes in and says those explosions are why they need a strong military. Juanito then gives him money.
Penelope tells Schneider
keeping things inside doesn't work for Cubans, they have to say everything and then keep saying it progressively louder until they are asked to leave the restaurant. Schneider then says it needs to be pushed deeper down until you die of an ulcer instead of an explosion. Penelope then tells Schneider to go back to his apartment because this is a family issue that does not include him.
A whistling noise is then heard and Schneider says keeping things down totally works. His glasses break and he holds his stomach saying that he hates his father. As he leaves the apartment, an explosion is heard in the hall.
Lydia tells Penelope she is worried about nothing and they just have to be polite. Penelope then asks what that would look like and they imagine the family wearing royal baroque-style clothing and speaking in British accents. In the fantasy, Estrellita says she is nervous Penelope ad her family will steal her musket. Penelope then reassures her she will keep her musket. Elena then says "crumpets." Alex then says he is hearing rumblings about Hamilton. Juan then gives him money.
This fantasy causes Alex and Elena to laugh and Elena says she thinks they are confusing politeness with Britishness. Lydia then thinks back to the time Mirtha borrowed her lipstick and used the whole tube. Lydia then questions if it's her fault Mirtha has the lips of a pufferfish. Penelope then says once again they are screwed.
Lydia then says the only way to settle this is with a talent competition. In her fantasy, the living room has a blue banner that says “LYDIA’S GOT TALENT” and a microphone. Mirtha and Lydia try to one-up each other as they fight for the microphone and sing their song. Lydia images Gloria Estefan judging the talent show and declaring her the winner.
Lydia continues dancing and says Gloria's name. Elena then questions why Gloria Estefan would be there and Lydia replies that it's because everyone knows that if a Cuban closes her eyes and swishes her hips three times, she appears. Penelope then tells her mother she's lost her mind. Lydia replies that the whole situation is stressful and she's been drinking rum as she takes another swig of rum from her bottle.
Elena then says they just have to admit that there is no avoiding of politics so they may as well try to talk some sense into them. Penelope then says both families were fighting for so long, and they just got back on track and she doesn't want to mess that up, therefore there will be no talk about politics.
Elena points out that they are going to talk about it and therefore Penelope better be okay with what's going to happen.
In a fantasy, Estrellita says the president won the election again, and he will be around for another four years. Mirtha then says they have perfected the artificial heart so that he will live forever and be president forever. Alex then says if it isn't broken, don't fix it. Juan then spits out money like a machine and Alex celebrates this.
Penelope then says if there is a fight they are going to win it. Penelope then questions how they argue politics.
Penelope then imagines telling Estrellita to get her head out of her butt for voting for the president. In the fantasy, Estrellita is seen with her head literally in her butt and walking out the door. Elena tells her she loves that attitude but needs back it up with facts.
Penelope then imagines telling Estrellita that Hillary got three million more votes but then Estrellita tells her that Hillary runs a pedophile ring out of a pizza parlor and the pizza isn't even that good. Penelope then imagines telling Estrellita there is a drought and sea levels are rising. In the fantasy, Estrellita tells Penelope to make up her mind on whether there is a drought or too much water. Penelope then imagines telling Estrellita her guy has to admit Obama was born in America. Estrellita shows skepticism for this.
Elena then says she forgot to tell Penelope that facts don't matter anymore. She elaborates, saying that people what to believe what they believe more than what's actually true. Penelope then questions if that's true and Elena then questions if it matters.
Elena then tells Penelope she has to go negative. Penelope then asks her what happened to "when they go low, we go high?” Elena states that went out the window with facts and questions about what dirt Penelope has on Estrellita.
There is then a fantasy where Penelope then questions when Estrellita had her pregnancy scare. Penelope then says she didn't hate Planned Parenthood then and Estrellita retorts that at least she wasn't on a first-name basis with the nurse who handed out free condoms. Estrellita starts to ask about how Penelope taught her about mouth stuff using a cucumber, but Penelope cuts off the fantasy saying they are a classy family and are therefore going to stay classy.
Alex then talks about an assembly at school where he learned conflict resolution. He says these two kids were filming a fight for TikTock which then turned real. Penelope says she remembers she got an email which she skimmed then deleted.
Alex tells her conflict resolution has three steps. First, a non-threatening question is asked, then you listen to the person’s response. Then, you find common ground. Ask, listen, find. ALF!
Penelope imagines a scenario where Estrellita tells her she hates the fictional character, ALF, because he is another illegal alien in the country.
Penelope then asks Alex to tell her how it works but not to call it ALF. Alex then tells her they need an issue to use as an example. Penelope then says they should start with the things she knows best. The family lists off some things and Penelope clarifies that she was talking about health care.
There is a fantasy where Penelope asks Estrellita if everyone should have healthcare. Estrellita retorts by calling Penelope MSNBC. Back in reality, Alex tells Penelope it sounded too much like she was jumping down Estrellita's throat and that she should ask a more uncontroversial question.
Penelope then imagines asking Estrellita if being healthy is good to which Estrellita replies, "If you don't have your health, what do you have? Of course, if we had socialized medicine, then we’d all be dead! Did you know that in Canada, a lady had to wait eight years for a liver transplant, and then instead, they gave her a breast implant?" She holds her phone, which has a picture of a lady with three boobs, saying she saw it on Facebook.
In reality, Penelope asks how she should respond to the crazy. Alex tells her she should find common ground. Penelope then tries again in another fantasy, where she says both she and Estrellita are on Facebook. Alex tells her that's good and she should keep going. Penelope then says they both want to live in a world that prioritizes good healthcare that doesn't cost too much. Estrellita agrees with this and says she will forward Penelope a meme about how Obamacare paid for a caravan of illegals to get free nose jobs. She then says it’s a big problem.
In reality, Penelope then questions what she should do now. Alex tells her she should agree to disagree. Penelope then asks if that means Estrellita is allowed to spew her nonsense and she just has to be nice about it. Alex then tells her that it takes years and his teacher said that's what they do in the middle east.
Penelope says she doesn't have years, as there are Cubans in an Uber on their way to the Alvarez home and they still have no plan and this is so much harder than she thought it was going to be. Elena then questions her on how she thought it would go and changing people's minds is hard.
There is then a fantasy where Penelope imagines the Reyeses clapping after she gives a speech on her beliefs and manages to change their minds. Back in reality, Penelope then says it could happen and Elena tells her it wouldn't go anything like that. Penelope then imagines herself and Estrellita getting into a physical fight while the family watches her act it out. In the fantasy, Mirtha tells them to stop fighting but then winds up in a fight with Lydia.
Back in reality, Penelope says they are screwed.
Penelope imagines disintegrating the Reyes family with a laser when they knock on the door. Elena then tells her she can't do that and Lydia says fire will only make Mirtha stronger. Schneider then enters the apartment and suggests he have the apartment airlifted and they can all start a new life in Vancouver. He says they will be considered cool, as they will be the only Latinos there.
Lydia finally gives in and says the Reyeses can stay in a hotel and Penelope says that is very big of her but it is too late for that now. Lydia then tells her that is good as she has changed her mind again. Elena says she is glad because in order to see change, they need to be able to talk to the people they love. Penelope responds by saying she knows, but they are so far apart she can't imagine what they'll say. Elena says maybe she can peace it together and if she's being generous they all actually care about the same things.
There is a fantasy where Estrellita explains although the president is not her ideal candidate nor someone who she'd invite for dinner but all politicians are terrible in some way and they need to find ones who will do the things they want. She then asks Penelope if her guy was everything she wanted or her first choice. Estrellita goes on to say their parents sacrificed a lot for them to be Americans and when she hears about free college and free healthcare, her shield goes up because Castro also promised that and they know how that turned out. She then states she doesn't care about the president’s personal life. She cares about what he’s going to do so she can keep her personal life. Estrellita concludes that they are safe in today's crazy world because he is keeping them safe.
Penelope tells Elena she was impressed with that and Elena agrees saying she scared herself. Alex questions what Penelope will say in response.
Penelope then imagines countering Estellita's argument by saying that the president mishandles every crisis that comes his way such as the mishandling of Puerto Rico and doing very little in that situation. Penlope then asks Estreillta to imagine that happening on a global scale that shuts everything down and they are waiting for someone to lead them while they have to watch episodes episodes of all of their favorite shows but they have to be animated.
Penelope reminds Estrellita when they used to joke about their opposing views and she goes on to say that guy made things different. Penelope says people are more open about their racism because the president made it cool again and continues by saying they have got to stand up for each other now more than ever. She asks Estrellita if that person calling Mexicans drug dealers and rapists does not affect her. Penelope gives the example if Estrellita's son was in Walmart where a shooting happened and the shooter said that he was there to kill all Mexicans he would not have cared or asked if Flavio was Cuban.
Penelope tells Estrellita this is a result of the president telling him immigrants are dangerous and don't deserve to be here. She says the way to keep people safe is to not deport people who fought for this country and served with her and risked their lives. Penelope suggests that people who are fleeing a horrible situation should be allowed into the country, give them help, and compliment them on things they helped made better. She then goes on to day that relying on the kindness of strangers was the same thing that helped them when they fled Cuba. She then concludes by saying the beautiful thing about this country is that they don't just fight for themselves, they fight for people they've never met and that's what's in her heart.
Back in reality, Elena tells her she is ready and Alex gives her money. Penelope says 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.
The episode ends with Penelope opening the door and everyone greeting each other and the Alvarezes, Schneider, and the Reyeses embracing in a group hug.
- This episode was animated by Smiley Guy Studios.
- This is the first animated special of One Day at a Time.
- Penelope indirectly mentions COVID-19. She states that people are stuck waiting for someone to lead them in the crisis while having to watch episodes of their favorite TV shows, but now they have to be animated. This could be the reason this episode is animated.
- This episode discusses how the Alvarezes imagine dealing with opposing political views from their relatives.
- Alex calls Juan Tío ATM.
- This episode does not mention Trump directly by name:
- The show does this regularly as a stylistic choice.
- Justina Machado as Penelope Alvarez
- Rita Moreno as Lydia Riera
- Todd Grinnell as Schneider
- Isabella Gómez as Elena Alvarez
- Marcel Ruiz as Alex Alvarez
|One Day at a Time Episodes|
This Is It · Bobos and Mamitas · No Mass · A Snowman's Tale · Strays · The Death of Mrs. Resnick
The Funeral · Outside · Benefit with Friends · Hermanos · Nip It in the Bud · One Valentine's Day at a Time
The Politics Episode