The coronavirus pandemic limits the ability for television shows to film as normal so instead of an episode using human actors, POP network’s One Day at a Time turned its latest episode into an animated one. The animated format didn’t stop the inclusion of politics, though. In fact, politics consumed the entire episode.
In “The Politics Episode,” which aired June 16, Penelope Alvarez (Justina Machado) and her Cuban-American family are expecting conservative relatives from Florida to visit them while they are in town for a baby’s baptism. Penelope and the family discuss different ways to handle when the relatives’ conservative views inevitably clash with the family’s liberal views.
There are fantasy scenes that run the gambit from snarky quips on subjects like global warming to imagining actually breaking out in physical fighting over which point of view is correct. A new character is introduced, Tio Juanito (Lin-Manuel Miranda), who gives Penelope’s teenage son Alex (Marcel Ruiz) a $20 bill every time he says something favorable to Cubans or conservatives.
Finally, Penelope’s daughter Elena (Isabella Gomez) offers some tips on how to talk to cousin Estellita (Melissa Fumero), a conservative with completely opposite views than those held by Penelope. Two scenes play out in Penelope’s head on how the two would speak to each other. One scene shows a conservative Estellita explaining why she supports the president, the other scene shows Penelope’s counter arguments.
Estellita: Let’s say I’m trying to get to San Diego. There’s a train going to New York and a train going to Phoenix. Neither one’s ideal, so I pick the one that gets me closer to where I want to go. That’s how I feel about this president. Whatever else happens, he’s going to appoint Supreme Court justices who are going to finally protect the lives of unborn babies. Is this guy perfect? No. Do I want him to come over to our house for dinner? God, no. But be honest — politicians are all terrible in some way, so you have to find the ones who will do what you want. And come on, you’re telling me your guy is your first choice? Everything you ever dreamed of? I don’t think so.
Look, our parents sacrificed so much for us to be Americans. So when I hear about free college and free health care, my shield goes up because that’s what Castro promised. We all know how that turned out. And I don’t care about the president’s personal life. I care about what he’s gonna do so I can keep my personal life. The world is a scary place,and there’s hard decisions to be made, and we don’t like to think about that, but it can’t always be about your feelings and wanting to be nice to everybody. That’s why, as much as it hurts my Christian heart, we can’t just say, “Everybody come in.”
That’s why we need a tough guy. He may be a bully, but he’s our bully. And he won, so get over it. It’s not my fault that he was opening cans of whoopass while all your candidates majored in gender studies. The world may be crazy right now, but you and I are safe. Because he’s keeping us safe.
When Penelope counters in the next scene, you’ll notice that she uses liberal talking points about everything from a hurricane in Puerto Rico to the coronavirus pandemic. President Trump is to blame for everything, though his name is never actually spoken.
Penelope: Wow. I am so stunned that we are looking at the world and seeing such different things. You think he keeps you safe? He mishandles every crisis that comes his way. Look at Puerto Rico. A hurricane, earthquakes, the whole island without power. And that guy comes and he throws a bunch of paper towels, and then he’s like, “Bye!” Now imagine something happening on a global scale. Something so huge, it completely shuts everything down, and we’re stuck waiting for someone to lead us while we watch episodes of our favorite TV shows, but now they have to be animated. I know, it sounds crazy, but look into my eyes and tell me that that’s the guy who will get us through it.
Remember when we used to joke about this stuff? “I’m a crazy liberal, you’re a stuffy conservative, ha ha ha.” I miss that. Us being on opposite sides isn’t new. But now it’s different. This guy made it different. People used to actually try to hide their racism. But the president made it cool again! We have to stand up for one another now more than ever. That’s why we need to say black lives matter, trans lives matter, brown lives matter.
When he calls Mexicans drug dealers and rapists, you think that doesn’t affect you? Do you think if your son was in that Walmart where the guy said he was there to shoot all the Mexicans, he would have stopped to ask if Flavio was Cuban before pulling the trigger? He wouldn’t have cared. Because the president told him immigrants are dangerous and don’t deserve to be here.
You want to keep us safe? How about not deporting people who fought for this country. Who served with me, who risked their lives for you? Crazy idea — what if, when people came to this country, we were like, “Oh, are you fleeing a horrible situation? Please, come on in, it’s all good! Love your food, love your music. Anyway, we’re gonna give you a little help. Oh, God, you’re doing amazing! You’ve actually made this place better!” Oh, wait, that’s not a crazy idea. That was literally us when our family fled Cuba! How quickly we forget!
America is great because we don’t just fight for ourselves. We fight for people we will never meet. Just like when our parents came here. Strangers organized their trips, arranged for them to be safe. Strangers. We can’t benefit from the kindness of strangers and then turn our backs on the ones who need us to stand up for them. Because that’s what kept us safe. And that’s what’s beautiful about this country.
The charge that the president is racist and the implication that his supporters are, too, isn’t anything new from the left. It isn’t even anything new to politics since the left always calls Republicans racist, no matter who is in office. Even during a pandemic, the script doesn’t change.