Friday, February 8, 2019

REVIEW: 'One Day at a Time' - Penelope and Elena Share Powerful Stories About Sexual Harassment in 'Outside'

Netflix's One Day at a Time - Episode 3.02 "Outside"

When Penelope discovers Alex's secret Instagram account, his crass posts spark an intense family discussion about consent and harassment.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Netflix's One Day at a Time.

"Outside" was written by Gloria Calderon Kellett & Mike Royce and directed by Pamela Fryman

This immediately presents as a powerful episode revolving around the kinds of discussions parents need to be having with their children at this moment in time. Penelope is absolutely horrified to discover Alex's private Instagram account and learn what he has been doing. She sees a young boy who is demeaning to women in order to amuse himself and his friends. It's gross and childish while also being incredibly hurtful. The entire family sees the picture of Alex groping his new girlfriend's breast. They immediately see it as something very problematic. They understand that he put this girl in an awkward position where she felt like she had to laugh along with it or be labeled as the crazy one in the situation. But all of this is also just a gateway to even more profound conversations happening about the many ways this tricky subject of appropriate romantic behavior is changing in the modern world. Penelope and Schneider pride themselves on being allies who understand the concerns that the younger generation is raising. Penelope appreciates that she has empowered her children to ensure that they create a better world than the one that she had. However, things are still very unfortunate in the present as well. It's absolutely horrifying to listen to Lydia as she explains what she sees as romantic even though everyone else sees it as problematic. She is a woman of a certain generation who loves getting attention on the street. She flaunts her sexuality in every aspect of her life. She is very proud of her good looks. She loves when men validate it for her. However, she doesn't immediately accept that that's not something that every woman enjoys and appreciates. It's something that is perfectly fine for her. It has still warped her view of the world though. As such, she is the one giving Alex the toxic advice of not taking no for an answer. He keeps asking Chloe out until she finally agrees to do so. Now, it's unclear just how much of this new relationship will actually occur onscreen. The audience doesn't see them together or the picture that stirs up this entire conversation to begin with. That doesn't take away from the powerful lesson that needs to be learned either. Alex believes that he can just ignore all of this because his good looks can carry him so far in life. That has gotten him so much attention and appreciation so far. However, he can't just ignore these issues simply because they probably won't lead to any consequences for him. He needs to be aware. His family will require him to do so in order for him to avoid being the guy who kidnaps a girl just for a grand romantic gesture barefoot in a field.

But the conversation pivots into an even more brutal place when Elena and Penelope share their own stories of dealing with harassment. Elena and Syd remain strong as a couple. In fact, there is a solid subplot running throughout this episode in which Elena tries to find a better term than girlfriend to call Syd because they identify as non-binary. It's cute that they land on Sydnificant other. It's a play on words while still conveying everything that is special about this relationship. However, it's still scary listening to Elena as she details a recent experience they had out in public recently. They were holding hands and enjoying life as a couple. And then, they were followed by a group of guys who thought it would be funny to tease them into kissing each other for their own pleasure. It was so uncomfortable and scary because they didn't know what would happen. They did the smart thing and avoided a confrontation. However, it's also forced them inside. That's not healthy for their relationship either. Penelope is eager to get them out of the house. But she also doesn't now the extent of the damage the world has done to her child. That inspires her to share her own story of being assaulted by her commanding officer in the army. She appreciated the bond that they had. He was her mentor who got her a solid job in a trauma unit. She worked hard and believed that paid off with this position. However, he expected to be thanked sexually even though Penelope never once gave him that impression. She may have had a moment of rousing anger to get out of that situation. However, she too remained quiet because she didn't want to lose out on the opportunities that had already presented themselves to her and her career. She didn't want her life to change simply because this happened to her. But that was the trauma she has had to carry. She has internalized this. She is so strong. But she doesn't know how to process these emotions either. It's freeing to share them with the family. It brings everyone together in a show of support. Sure, none of them are perfect. They still act impulsively when it comes to their feelings of love. However, their intentions remain pure as well. That creates the hope that the future will be much better because of the conversations that are now taking place like this.