Rita Moreno, 85, steals the show in the new Netflix remake of the sit-com “One Day at a Time,” which started streaming last week and is being hailed by critics nationwide.
The show follows three generations of a close-knit but struggling Cuban-American family sharing an apartment in Los Angeles.
Moreno plays Lydia, the clan’s flamboyant, opinionated, and sometimes overzealous matriarch. Lydia’s daughter, Penelope (Justina Machado), a nurse, has recently left her husband, with whom she served and suffered in the Afghanistan war.
In his absence, she depends on Lydia to help her raise 14-year-old Elena (Isabella Gomez) and 12-year-old Alex (Marcel Ruiz), who are keen to test their elders at every turn.
Hank Stuever, the TV critic for The Washington Post, says Moreno “excels at the role, luxuriating in an abuela’s opportunities to convey a rich sense of culture and faith to those around her, while getting most of the big laughs.”
“Lydia’s endearing stubbornness lends ‘One Day at a Time’ its most funny and most meaningful moments.”
Over the past seven decades, Moreno’s work has won her an Oscar, a Tony, a Grammy, and two Emmys. She is perhaps best known for her role as Anita in the film adaptation of West Side Story, in 1961, and for her six seasons on the cast of The Electric Company in the 1970s.
The original “One Day at a Time,” which aired on CBS from 1975 to 1984, was set in Indianapolis and starred Bonnie Franklin as Ann, a divorced white mother of two headstrong teenaged girls, Julie (Mackenzie Phillips) and Barbara (Valerie Bertinelli). Ann’s mother didn’t live with the family, but she figured prominently in many episodes.
That show was developed by Hollywood legend Norman Lear, who also produced the hits Sanford and Son, All In the Family, Maude, The Jeffersons, and Good Times.
Lear, now 94, is a consultant to the reboot, which is the brainchild of Cuban-American actress and writer Gloria Calderón Kellett.