Netflix's 'One Day at a Time' Needs to Rethink How They Portray Elena ASAP

one day at a time elena

Netflix’s One Day at a Time is by far the most revolutionary show on the network.

The series is a remake of the 1970s hit show of the same name. But this time, it follows a Cuban-American family dealing with the issues of today.

The show centers around Penelope, an army vet suffering from PTSD, her immigrant mother Lydia, played by the remarkable Rita Moreno, and her two kids Alex and Elena.

One Day at a Time has been praised for tackling issues like sexuality, religion, immigration, alcoholism, and the stigma around mental health and therapy within the Latinx community. Plus, Lydia is a sexy, badass grandmother who still dates, showing that women don’t stop living or being vivacious once they get older.

one day at a time season 3
Photo courtesy of Netflix

Despite the praise from critics and audiences alike; it’s still facing threats of not returning for a fourth season. If it does return for a fourth season, there’s only one thing I want them to change: Elena.

If you’re a fan of the show like I am, you’re probably wondering why I’d want to change such a groundbreaking character. I mean, she came out to her conservative Cuban family during her quinces and stood up to her homophobic father.

I love Elena’s story arcs and I love that the writers made her so three-dimensional. But she has to be one of the most annoying characters on the show.

one day at a time review
Photo courtesy of Netflix

This obviously isn’t Elena’s fault, but the writers’. I love seeing a character that cares so much about the injustices in the world, especially since she’s only sixteen. But the way she goes about her political and social crusades are incredibly over-the-top. It’s almost as if writers took their inspiration for Elena from internet stereotypes of what people think a modern-day political activist is.

You know exactly the type of stereotype I’m talking about too. Those of us who consider ourselves actual activists have seen the posts about people wanting Santa to be gender neutral or people getting offended by charcoal face masks and calling it blackface.

one day at a time renewed
Photo courtesy of Netflix

The Santa debacle circulated all over right-wing media pages, and trust me, even though there have been white sorority girls that say racist things while wearing a charcoal mask, no black person thinks that charcoal face masks are offensive.

There are moments in the show where Elena behaves just like that. She becomes preachy and jumps down other characters’ throats rather than explaining the issues to them calmly. A character can barely talk to Elena without her taking offense. Is this what the writers really think of those of us who are trying to fight for what is right?

one day at a time review season 3
Photo courtesy of Netflix

I’ll be completely honest, this is exactly how I used to be back in the day when I became more politically aware of what was going on around me. But as I got older, I realized that I could still be politically active, socially aware, and fight for what I believe in without coming on too strong.

Despite her annoying quirks, Elena is an important character on TV right now. I really hope that the show gets a fourth season because of all the good it’s done. In the meantime, the writers should probably take the time to get to know social activists. Because right now, they’ve turned Elena into a mere caricature.


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Alysia Stevenson
Alysia Stevenson is a twenty-seven New York City transplant currently living in Florida with her boyfriend and three furbabies. When she's not writing, you can find her watching beauty tutorials on Youtube or Parks and Rec for the millionth time.