Elena Alvarez, One Day at a Time
Elena Alvarez (Isabella Gomez)
One Day at a Time is a sitcom centered around a Cuban family: newly single Penelope Alvarez, and Amy Veterinary Corps, her two children, Elena and Alex, and her mother, Lydia. The show often tackles sexism, diversity, religion and immigration issues.
At the start of the show, Elena was weeks from turning 15, the captain of the debate team at school and presented as a feminist and activist. In the pilot “This Is It”, she refused to have a quinceañera because she considered it a misogynist cultural ritual, but ultimately agreed for her mother.
There were subtle references to Elena’s sexuality throughout the season: she refused to wear gender specific sneakers, and took off her makeup after trying it for the first time, because boys were starting to talk to her and it was the last thing she wanted (1×02 “Bobos and Mamitas”).
1×07 “Hold, Please” Elena finally admitted out loud that she liked girls: “Do you have any advice for being the weirdo in the family? Explaining that you don’t want to pick a boy to be an escort to your quinces because you don’t even know if you like boys?”. She asked her younger brother Alex (who didn’t understand it but thought it was no big deal) not to tell anyone: “it’s not that I’m embarrassed, it’s just that I’m not sure”.
She briefly dated a boy from school, before realizing that she liked him, just not “in that way” and that she didn’t think she could ever fall in love with a boy. She finally came out to her mother and grandmother in 1×10 “Sex Talk”: “What I’m trying to say is that when I talk about love, I see myself, someday, loving a woman”.
The show also dealt with her mother’s journey of acceptance (1×11 “Pride & Prejudice”). While her mother was very supportive with Elena, she admitted in private she felt weird, and the episode focused on her realizing she was fine with it and only needed some time to process.
In the final episode of the season, Elena also came out to her father, and walked out at her quinceañera wearing not a traditional gown but a white suit. Her father rejected her and left her alone for the father-daughter dance, and her mother stepped in to take his place.
The show drew a lot of praise for Elena’s coming out arc:
Senior entertainment strategist at GLAAD, Megan Townsend, called Elena’s story a “great example” of what the organization wants to see on screen. “Representation of LGBTQ young people is incredibly important. These portrayals both help real LGBTQ youth to recognize they aren’t alone, (and) also foster understanding and accelerate acceptance in their peer groups.”
The show based her character in part on executive producer Mike Royce’s recently out teen daughter and Michelle Badillo, a 24-year-old member of the writing staff.
Badillo says Royce and executive producer Gloria Calderon Kellett “both come from the idea that you should write stories that are diverse, and you should have people in the room who are diverse who have had those actual experiences. They asked a lot of questions, and they let me tell my story.” – USAToday.
One Day at a Time was renewed for a 13 episode second season.
No female love interests
Relationship story arc with a woman: No
Male love interests:
- Josh Flores (Froy Gutierrez, guest, 4 episodes)
Relationship story arc with a man: No
Male love interest after being identified as a lesbian? No
Filter Relationship Arc:
Storyline during sweeps? No
 A relationship story arc is defined as explicit, developed on screen, and lasting more than 3 episodes. It is listed as questionable or subtext if romance is only implied, mentioned instead of shown on screen, part of a dream sequence, or otherwise not explicit for the viewer.
 Sweeps episodes air in February, May, July and November, the periods when advertising rates are set. A character is marked as "sweeps" when there is a very limited number of episodes that address their sexuality, all air during sweeps period, and the storyline is otherwise ignore/dropped.