Culture

‘One Day At A Time’ Is Giving People A Taste Of Life In A Multi-Generational And Cuban Household

Netflix’s reboot of the 1970’s sitcom “One Day at a Time” (ODAAT) could not be more affirming of the Cuban-American family of the 21st century. It doesn’t hurt that Puerto Rican icons Rita Moreno (Lydia) and Justina Machado (Penelope) star in the show as mother and abuelita to second-generation Americans Alex and Isabella.

ODAAT tackles important issues like the depression and PTSD of war veteran Penelope. The family also deals with situations of immigration, sexism, homophobia, and racism that Latino families battle against every day. Oh, but you’ll laugh like a hyena watching this show and relate so hard to the Alvarez’s family traditions of sneaking popcorn and candy into the movie theater, storing ropa vieja in a mantequilla bin and licking the Cheeto bag clean.

Unfortunately, depiste the represetation and clear love fo the show, Netflix made the decision to shut down production. The announcement comes after Netflix dropped $80 million to stream “Friends” in 2019 because we can’t get enough of old sitcoms.

Here’s how ODAAT nails what it means to be a modern Cuban family, even though Netflix decided to cancel it.

Family is everything.

Netflix

Penelope, AKA Lupita, and her mother, Lydia, are the backbone of this family, with three generations living under the same roof. Lupita had just had her first child, Elena, when her and her then-husband felt called to go back to duty after the World Trade Towers were attacked on 9/11. Lydia and her husband, Berto, decide to move in to help support the family.

We see their story begin after Berto tragically dies and Lupita leaves her kids’ father when he becomes addicted to pain killers and refuses to get help. The two are guiding the family the best way they know how. In this family, love actually does conquer all.

The Cuban rage is real.

Netflix

As my Puerto Rican mother says, Boricuas y Cubanos are wings of the same plane. (?) All my Cuban cousins punch their palm real fast when they’re real mad. That’s how you know to run. Run for your life. Another tactic is to watch the red rise in their face. Once they’re red from chin to temple, it’s already too late. They gonna blow. Try to get far, far away.

If you grew up Latino, you are low key traumatized from fine-tuning your sensors for anger. I know if someone’s angry before they even know they are. It’s not a gift; it’s a curse.

Abuelita is the queen, no questions asked.

Netflix

Yes, she lives behind the curtain but she is the one who brought Cuba to your family and she’ll never let you forget it. Lydia lives to be the most religious, devout Catholic in the room, but also the most seductive(?). It’s a weird combo but she works it like a charm. Como todos viejos, she’s a little racist, but the character development is real (unlike the reality your IRL Cubana abuelita will ever change).

Plus, this well will never run dry:

“When I was 15, and came to this country with no family without knowing the language…”

Café Bustelo is the glue that keeps your family values together.

Netflix

Without it, we’re all savages. There has only been one day that your family ran out of Café Bustelo and that day made history… a history your family vows never to repeat again. Whenever a non-Cubano enters your home and tells you that they don’t like coffee, it gives you a good chuckle because you know it’s just because they haven’t had Cuban coffee yet. Azúcar!

Oh, and it’s a cardinal sin (Lydia’s words, not mine) if you’re not dancing salsa while you make it. “Look happy! You’re Cuban!”

Real Tupperware is for suckers.

Netflix

“The rice and beans are in the pickle jar and the cookies are in the cookie tin, but they’re not the same cookies that came with the tin.”

I’m not asking any questions, are you? As kids, it was always a fun adventure to sneak into your Nana’s cabinet and open up cookie tins, never knowing what you’re going to find. The possibilities are endless: a lifetime’s collection of buttons, saltine crackers, vieja hard candy, safety pins… but 100% definitely not cookies.

If you’re a girl, someone is always trying to put makeup on you.

Netflix

Elena is president of her debate team, civically engaged, and gets straight A’s, but Lydia is only ever proud of her when she put on makeup that one time. Who else knows this kind of injustice?

Her little brother, Alex, could lick a frog and Lydia would make the sign of the cross praising God for giving her such a curious, courageous grandson, but Elena urges her to vote and is immediately interrupted with “ANNOYING.” True story. Like, all of our true stories.

Nothing says family and love like being forced to have a quinces.

Netflix

The feud continues. Elena is a feminist and activist. After looking up the history of the tradition, she protested the idea of a quinces celebration because it’s a “ritual that forces her to go on parade before the village to be traded for two cows and a goat.” Abuelita’s response? “Well someone thinks they’re worth a lot.”

Good thing Lupita is around to remind them both what century we’re living in. These days, quinces are just an excuse to throw a big ass party that your 147 immediate relatives can come to celebrate your favorite teenager.

Even the older generation has had to learn to make adjustments to a new Cuban-American culture.

Netflix

When Elena was caught watching gay porn, she was greeted with compassion from her mom, and Elena felt safe enough to come out as lesbian. The best part of this show is that it doesn’t give characters spiritual bypasses or perfect experiences. We see Lupita understandably go through a (short) period of acceptance as a parent.

Lupita was actually shocked to see Lydia process her Catholic religious dogma in under 1 minute and immediately embraces Elena because “family comes first.”

Lydia even ditched the tutu and made Elena a suit for her quinces!

Netflix

Lydia kept having bouts of Cuban rage and upset when Elena wasn’t crying at the sight of her handmade dress. No joke, Elena was all full of gratitude and compliments of the dress, but that wasn’t enough for Lydia. Without even asking Elena, she stayed up all night hemming out the tutu and making her a blazer and dress pants to match.

While Elena’s father abandoned her after she came out to him, Elena was surrounded by love at her quinces, and come father-daughter dance, her mother was there to support her. This is the modern-day Latino family.

But also, Lydia has worked harder than anyone else ever and everyone better show respect.

Netflix

Sit down. This is about to be a novela. But don’t worry, it’s going to be good, even though you’ve heard it your whole life…

Lydia: “Listen, when I was your age, I had three jobs. Courier, seamstress and I sold Avon door-to-door.”

Lupita: “Thank you. When I was your age, I was scooping ice cream. By the end of the summer, my right arm looked like Popeye, the left one looked like Olive Oyl. Then I joined the army. Almost died. Get a job.”

The show tackles taboo topics, like single parenting.

Netflix

That’s not to say your mother isn’t going to have an unwanted opinion about it. In the great words of Lydia Rivera, “We are Cuban. We don’t get divorced. We die.” Claro, the mother-daughter duo worked it out and Lydia grew to understand why Lupita would voluntarily ditch her man.

There is no reason to feel ashamed for being a single parent. There is also nothing wrong with letting your mother teach you how to shave. When you’re a 12 year old boy, you have as much facial hair as a grown ass Latina woman. Learn from us.

Cubans don’t have allergies, or ever get sick.

Netflix

Doctor: You had a stroke? Then you have to take your medications or you could develop another clot.

Lydia: “My Cuban blood would overpower the illness and demolish it until it is nothing.”

Tbh, no Latinos get sick because we just don’t have time for that. Just rub some VapoRub on it, gargle with hydrogen peroxide, or put an onion under your pillow and stfu about it, tu sabes? The last season finale was stressful. Lydia actually ended up having a stroke and nobody knew if she was going to make it or not. I mean, she’s Cuban, so she did. ; )

Expect a Cuban flag at every sporting event.

Netflix

How else would you expect your teammates and opponents to know that you have rich, Cuban blood in your system? It’s called an intimidation tactic. They see those Cuban flags waving and they know they’re f*cked. And it’s not even about your Cuban blood.

It’s because they know that the crazy high expectations placed on you by your family is more pressure than anyone else could be under to perform. You’ve got to live up to all that azúcar hype, right?

The show even touches on how Latinos stand together no matter their nationality.

Netflix

After Alex is called a beaner, some solid family conversations about colorism, newly reignited racism under this administration, and discussions about beans happened. Namely, Lydia was offended that “beaners” was meant for Mexicans because Cubans have the best beans.

Elena was shocked because she had never been called a slur, to which Lydia told her that she is the Wonder Bread to Papito’s rich caramel skin. So maybe the preference isn’t just because Alex is a boy, but because of internal colorism. Elena had to come to terms with that she experiences life different as a white-passing Cubana than from her “caramel” hermano. She also earned the nickname “Blanquita.”

There will be a picture of the Pope in every room.

Netflix

He’s always watching over you, along with Jesus hanging from a cross at every wall space you can find. If your abuelita lives with you, her Pinterest board looks like the inside of basilica catolica, and it’s written all over the walls. According to Lydia, “Oh, yes, because he is so inspiring. You walk in to get a yogurt, you see him Hola, Papa. Puts a smile on your face.”

After an episode that you should really watch, during which Lupita tells Lydia that the pope doesn’t doe it for her as much as Serena Williams. Lydia ends up putting the pope and Serena up on the fridge. LOL

You go to church every Sunday because it’s not worth upsetting Abuelita.

Netflix

It honestly takes more time to talk her down and get her back home than it does to actually go to church. You have to wait until you move far, far away and can lie about going to church to get out of it. But you better make sure that you looked up the name of the church, the church times and can vouch for what time you go. Seriously, find out the nearest landmarks, names of the priests, etc. Abuelita’s soul is pure from weekly confession and can smell lies.

Superstitions are a whole other religion.

Netflix

“It’s like Santería: I don’t believe in it, but I respect it.” There are so many little rituals even the most devout Catholic follows, like sleeping with a glass of water under the bed to absorb bad energy or palo santo’ing the entryways of a house before you move into it.

If you didn’t have at least one tía go through a Santería phase, please talk to me and tell me what it was like to open a closet and not find an altar. In 2000s Miami, all my tías suddenly only wore white and were a little intimidating because they seemed both zen and very powerful.

Wasting crumbs is a sin.

Netflix

Cuban families lost everything when they left Cuba. As such, they hate it when you waste even the smallest amount of anything. An empty bag of Cheetos isn’t empty… it’s literally coated in more food. My soul is pure of Cheeto dust.

This is why this show is gold. I was literally pouring popcorn crumbs into my mouth (and all over my face) when this scene came on and it was validating af. Ever felt like a peasant for doing that in a room full of white people judging you? It was in this scene that I realized it’s because I’m Latino. Get after it.

Even though you might be American, you’ll never stop being 100 percent Cuban.

Netflix

Lydia reveals that she never took her citizenship test when she realized she would have to renounce her Cuban citizenship and was still holding out hope she could return home. Twenty years later, with not much changing in Cuba, and immigration policy getting scarier in America by the day, Lydia decided that her security in this country wouldn’t make her any less Cuban.

She made that hella obvious when she was spotted on the balcony with a fat Cuban cigar in her mouth, salsa playing from her ancient little boombox y cafecito studying for the exam. She aced it.

If you haven’t watched it yet, check it out.

Netflix

It’s that good and that on point. Whether or not your family is as progressive as the Alvarez family, it will be life-affirming to see how your future family might respond to some of the same issues we all grew up with.

No joke, my therapist told me to watch this show as an identity-affirming assignment and I’m telling you that you can let the Alvarez’ raise you otra vez and thrive. Dale.

PLAYQuiz: Which Character From ‘One Day At A Time’ Are You?

Julissa Calderon And Annie Gonzalez On How ‘Gentefied’ Is Offering Empowerment And Representation In This New TV Era

Entertainment

Julissa Calderon And Annie Gonzalez On How ‘Gentefied’ Is Offering Empowerment And Representation In This New TV Era

gentefied / Instagram

Netflix’s show “Gentefied” is finally out and we all get to see the love story written to the Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights. The show is complete with discussions of the complexities of gentrification, bilingual jokes, and a cast that is the embodiment of #RepresentationMatters. 

The show centers around the Morales family’s taco shop made up of patriarch “Pop” (played by Joaquín Cosío) and his grandchildren Erik (played by JJ Soria), Ana (played by Karrie Martin) and Chris (played by Carlos Santos). It is set in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights, an area with a population makeup of 94 percent Latinos, a median age under 25, and where the average income is under $34,000, according to a Los Angeles Times profile.

In “Gentefied,” the Morales family is trying to save their weathering taco shop Mama Fina’s Tacos from being eaten up by the interests of corporate real estate developers and Westside yuppies. In order to keep Pop from closing the doors, Erik, Ana, and Chris try their hand at making fusion tacos or encouraging the children of patrons to read more books in exchange for free tacos. 

Ana’s strong activist girlfriend Yessika (played by Julissa Calderon), and Erik’s baby mama and first love professor and podcast host Lidia (played by Annie Gonzalez) make up the rest of the circle.

Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

The type of support Lidia gives to Erik is a kind of #BrownLove we are all here for. We are also excited to see queer Afro-Latinas represented in a show about the importance of embracing everyone’s Latinidad.

Calderon and Gonzalez are just as impassioned off-screen as their characters are on-screen when it comes to issues affecting Latinos.

Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

“Gentefied” encourages its viewers to love who you want, no matter what las chismosas de la vecindad say.

Mitú recently chatted with Calderon and Gonzalez at the Netflix Los Angeles office to talk more about how gentrification has affected them personally and what messages do they want to extend to audiences members as characters Yessika and Lidia. 

“I think that’s what this show is doing, it’s just creating space for a group of people who never felt seen or heard, and we are so honored and humbled to be part of a project like this,” Gonzalez said about what Gentefied means to her.  

The show’s characters portray the push and pull that gentrification can cause.

Oftentimes it is at the expense of minorities who are already struggling to pay rental prices. We have seen this happen in communities across the nation with Boyle Heights currently in that fight.

“Gentrification, it affects the minorities. Even though you look at statistics, and we are the majority as far as population is concerned (we make up a large population), we’re still the minority when it comes to politics, and anybody else that has the say on how things are ran. 

I’m born and raised in East LA, so I’ve seen first hand how gentrification has affected the people in my community, my family members,” Gonzalez said.

The writers of “Gentefied” are able to have such a high level of authenticity because its cast and crew have lived these changes themselves.  

View this post on Instagram

Just a lil primo love. 😅

A post shared by Gentefied (@gentefied) on

Gonzalez said her own grandmother had to move east to Ontario, Calif., to find affordable housing. Calderon said the Carol City area of greater Miami she knew growing up has completely transformed with different developments, pushing out flea market shop owners and going as far as to re-brand itself as Miami Gardens (now home to the Hard Rock Stadium.) 

“And yes, this story is in East LA, but this is resonating with so many different neighborhoods all around the country,” Calderon added. 

Calderon then shared a story of her grandmother’s Washington Heights neighborhood in New York which is now crawling with hipsters, a change she was taken a bit aback by.

“Before, no one would even walk in those neighborhoods, so it’s definitely interesting to see the turn of events, and unfortunately it’s affecting people of color—always,” Calderon stated. 

Although these gentrification changes are affecting people of color disproportionately, the show portrays a sense of hope and proactiveness by its characters to not only save the cultural roots of their neighborhood but to also help open the minds of the older generation who are grappling with their sense of a changing world. 

Calderon’s Yessika character proudly displays her Afro-Latinidad and lesbian love affair to the world while fighting back.

Yessika shows #BlackGirlMagic is sparkling in the streets of Boyle Heights. 

“I think my character has two messages—one is that she is a Black girl who speaks Spanish and she is proud of it. She owns the skin she’s in. She owns this curly ‘fro that she has. She knows where she comes from,” Calderon exclaimed. She continued, “my character is just not a sell-out. She stands for what she believes in and she doesn’t care if she’s going against everyone else. She’s aware of what’s at stake and she’s aware of what’s important, and she’s for the people.”

Calderon has embraced her full Afro-Latindad through Yessika and is ready to see the impact that representation will have for the next generation. 

“I just want these little girls in these neighborhoods to be like, ‘OMG! That’s me!’ I can see that, because I don’t recall seeing that as a child on TV. The novelas we used to see, everybody was very white-washed, blue eyes, blonde hair—that was the go-to market. We’re changing that sh*t.”

Gonzalez wants her character to convey a clear message of empowerment while attaining your wildest dreams. 

View this post on Instagram

Spread the chisme…we’re coming.

A post shared by Gentefied (@gentefied) on

Lidia proves you can do it all (and do it in your style of hoop earrings and turban headband!) 

“Lidia, she’s strong, confident, educated, born and raised in the ‘hood, [who] doesn’t need to code-switch to convey her intelligence. She’s empowering the Latinidad to get an education, but not to abandon their roots, thinking that her community is worth pouring into,” Gonzalez had to say about her character.  

Gonzalez added the show’s characters can resonate with audiences because each person knows someone like these characters. She said the example of the love story between Erik and Lidia, in which they each allowed each other to be equally sensitive and powerful, allowed her to find healing within herself.

“I found so much healing through Erik and Lidia’s story via my parent’s severed relationship. I felt I was able to make the ending they weren’t able to have,” Gonzalez shared in the interview. 

The show’s creators, Linda Yvette Chavez and Marvin Lemus knew that these types of stories would resonate because it’s their stories.

It’s a side of America that is finally being shown but was always there. 

The cast and storylines of “Gentefied” prove that the Greater Los Angeles area (and all neighborhoods in general) need to learn that pockets of working-class neighborhoods ARE worth pouring into and exploring—because the small businesses, the parks, the art, the people—they all have value. Having a supermercado instead of a Whole Foods grocery store does not make the history or culture of a city any less important.

READ: Netflix Finally Released The ‘Gentefied’ Trailer And The Show Looks Like An Instant Hit

Diego Luna Talks The Importance Of The Storytelling In ‘Narcos: Mexico’ And Why Mexico City Will Always Be His Home

Entertainment

Diego Luna Talks The Importance Of The Storytelling In ‘Narcos: Mexico’ And Why Mexico City Will Always Be His Home

Courtesy of Netflix

Netflix’s “Narcos: Mexico” Season 2 comes back to continue the story of enigmatic drug lord Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo and the subsequent rise and fall of the Guadalajara cartel he founded in the 1970s, with Diego Luna reprising his role as the mysterious Félix Gallardo.

The show depicts how Félix Gallardo’s eloquence and strategic thinking helped him attain a swift rise to the apex of the Mexican drug cartels. 

For a man of which not much is widely known about, Luna reveals in this exclusive interview with mitú how he was able to dive into his character.

When preparing for this role, Luna said there wasn’t as much research material about El Padrino (Félix Gallardo’s alias) compared to the personal stories of other real-life personalities, such as El Chapo. 

“The good thing for me in playing this role is this man was a very discreet person, he understood the power of discretion,” Luna says.

It was important to see what people said about him—what people say or feel when they were around this character, this perception of him helps a lot. I had to do research and see what was a common answer—people talk about how intelligent and precise and strategic he was, and that’s how I wanted to portray and build this character,” Luna told mitú over the phone. 

Season 2 picks up after the murder of DEA agent Kiki Camarena, with Félix Gallardo enjoying political protection at his palatial home in Mexico.

It’s evident in the beginning scenes of this second season that his rags-to-riches story is starting to unravel and a bit of paranoia is starting to set in that he may have a knife (or gun) at his back at any moment. 

A running allegory used by the characters’ dialogues of the Roman Empire’s eventual collapse and Julius Caesar’s ultimate end foreshadows what we all know will happen to Félix Gallardo—his drug empire will eventually collapse in a smoke of cocaine dust. 

From crooked Mexican politicians and cops to ranch hands trying to make extra money delivering cocaine across the border, the show demonstrates the complicity among the cartels and how far the cartels’ reach.

“Narcos: Mexico” attempts to show that good and evil isn’t always black and white. The story highlights the gray area where even those committing corrupt acts are victims, Luna explained. 

“Some of the characters that take action are victims of the whole system,” Luna said in Spanish. 

The side of Mexico shown in “Narcos: Mexico” has been criticized by some as a side of Mexico stereotypically seen in the media.

However, Luna sees it as a side of the country that is real and must be discussed in order to move forward.

“When this season ends, I was 10 to 11 years old [at the time.] That decade was actually ending. It’s interesting to revisit that decade as an adult and research that Mexico my father was trying to hide from me [as a child],” Luna explained.

Luna says that this type of storytelling is important to understanding the fuller picture of Mexico.

The need for this type of storytelling—the stories that put a mirror up to a country to see the darkest side of itself—is vital, regardless of how complex it is to write scripts about all the facets of a country marred by political and judicial corruption. 

“In this case the story is very complex, it’s talking about a corrupt system that allows these stories to happen. We don’t tell stories like that—we simply everything. With this, I had a chance to understand that complexity. The journey of this character is a presentable journey. Power has a downside, and he gets there and he thinks he’s indispensable and clearly he is not,” Luna said. 

Outside of his role on “Narcos,” Luna is a vocal activist and is constantly working to put Mexico’s art and talent on an international stage through his work, vigilantly reminding his audience that Mexico has culture waiting to be explored past the resort walls of Cancún and Cabo. 

“The beauty of Mexico is that there are many Mexicos—it’s a very diverse country. You have the Pacific Coast that is beautiful and vibrant and really cool. By far my favorite beach spots in Mexico are in Oaxaca, and all the region of Baja California. You also have the desert and jungle and Veracruz and you have all the Caribbean coast and the city is to me a place I can’t really escape. Home is Mexico City, and it will always be where most of my love stories are and where I belong,” Luna said in a sort of love note aside to his home country. 

As much as Luna can talk endlessly about his favorite tacos in Mexico City (Tacos El Güero for any inquiring minds) and the gastronomic wonders of its pocket neighborhoods such as la Condesa, he also wants the dialogue around Mexico’s violence to be shown under a spotlight, as searing as it may be. 

“We can’t avoid talking about violence because if we stop, we normalize something that has to change,” Luna said. 

Perhaps “Narcos: Mexico” can bring some introspection and change after all. Let’s hope the politicians are watching.

READ: ‘Narcos: Mexico’ Season 2 Picks Up Where We Left Off With Félix Gallardo And The Guadalajara Cartel