The classic theme song “This Is It” says you get one life, but thanks to vocal fans who rallied around this rebooted Norman Lear comedy after Netflix canceled it a year ago, One Day at a Time has a second. The series makes its debut on Pop TV Tuesday.
In Season 4, fiery divorcée Penelope Alvarez (Justina Machado) is still having a ball raising spirited teens Elena (Isabella Gomez) and Alex (Marcel Ruiz) with help from her lively mother, Lydia (Rita Moreno), in Los Angeles. The premiere begins with the Alvarezes opening their door to a census taker, played by none other than Ray Romano.
“They overshare, as they are wont to do,” says executive producer Gloria Calderon Kellett, noting this is a great device to introduce the family to new viewers. “It was [also] the perfect way to tackle this subject — the Latinx community are historically underreported from the census — and get Ray on the show.”
Fellow exec producer Mike Royce previously worked with the Emmy winner on Everybody Loves Raymond and says they fell right back into their old rhythms: “Ray likes to write a lot of alternative jokes, and then the moment you like one that he wrote, he starts to question it, and then you propose another one, and then he questions that one. He came up with a couple of really funny lines. He’s good at sitcoms. He really is!”
As for what else you can count on, Machado describes the new episodes as “joyous.” Everyone is happy, and love is all around: Activist Elena continues dating fellow senior Syd (Sheridan Pierce); mischievous Alex has a new girlfriend, classmate Nora (Raquel Justice); and neighbor Schneider (Todd Grinnell), now sober, remains hot and heavy with Avery (India de Beaufort, Grinnell’s wife in real life).
We’ll learn what may or may not have happened between Lydia and her infatuated but platonic companion Leslie (Stephen Tobolowsky) when he whisked her off to Cuba. And though last season ended with Penelope graduating with a nurse practitioner degree and happily single, she’ll now have a beau whose casting is top secret. “This one is special,” Machado says coyly.
“It’s the right relationship for her at the right time in her life.”