While the humor died down on One Day At A Time Season 4 Episode 2, the episode still delivered quality content and meaningful lessons.
There were some exciting moments, but after a strong season premiere, "Penny Pinching" mellowed a little. Despite this, they made the episode with great care.
The main discussion was money, and more specifically, Penelope's rocky relationship with it. So a careful and sensitive approach to this topic was critical.
While One Day at a Time nailed this part, you cannot help but wish there was a little more humor to make it more exciting, to balance out the seriousness of the episode.
The Alvarez family went for dinner to meet Alex's new girlfriend, Nora. After a wild, unexpected end to the evening, Penelope and Alex addressed the subject of money.
Penelope embarrassed Alex because she fought with their server for charging them full price for items they should have gotten at a discount.
We can tell that money is a touchy subject for Penelope, and there's a lot she has to unpack to feel more confident with her finances.
Alex: I can't believe you embarrassed me in front of Nora like that. For thirteen dollars, and a brownie that the waiter definitely spit on.
Penelope: So what, you want to impress her by making her think you're some big shot who doesn't care about money?
Alex: No, I want to impress her by making her think I don't have a crazy mother.
Penelope's family did not recognize this. They know Penelope has a difficult time spending money, but they did not help her. The closest to help she got ws from Schneider, who tried to convince her to change her attitude.
Alex, Lydia, and Elena went about their lives -- Alex wanted to buy sneakers, Lydia had to pick up a case of crabs for dinner, and Elena had an Overwatch match to attend.
They do not have the same spending issues as Penelope does. It does not mean they are careless with their money, but they seem to be more secure in their financial standings, even though Penelope is the one who brings in the income.
But Penelope did not address her issues. She thought her behavior was normal. She refused to change her ways until she had to -- her couch broke in half, and she got forced by Schneider to purchase a new one.
And even at the furniture store, Penelope tried to back out of buying a new couch. At that point, it is alarming -- the sofa broke, and she would still rather use half a sofa that leaks rather than buy a new one. Even though she has the money.
But Penelope does not think she has a problem.
Strangely enough, Penelope's fear is not crazy. She only recently started earning a higher salary, when she became a nurse practitioner.
But part of Penelope is so afraid that if she splurges on one thing, she will go broke because even though she is making more money than before, it does not exempt her from poverty.
"Penny Pinching" aired at a perfect time. People are struggling now more than ever, especially since most of us are unable to work.
One Day At A Time Season 4 Episode 2 reminds us of the financial anxieties many of us face because of the virus.
And while none of that is happening on the show, most of us can relate to Penelope's complex relationship with money.
"Penny Pinching," tells us that we are not alone. One Day at a Time consistently covers relevant topics to our society, and they do a great job. Kudos to them!
Penelope: Everybody relax, I was fine!
Alex: I know it's good to save money. But maybe the first time meeting my girlfriend isn't the right time to threaten to burn this mother down.
One Day at a Time Season 4 Episode 2 reached its climax when Elena's storyline converged with Penelope's.
She made it back to the apartment with Lydia, Alex, and Leslie -- who tagged along on their errands because he had nothing else to do.
As soon as they entered the apartment, we immediately knew something was wrong. Something bad happened, and it must relate to how Elena, Alex, and Lydia spent their money.
It turned out, they have not spent money yet, but they were about to, since their car window shattered and their car door broke off.
Elena: So when we get there, you can just hang out in the car.
Leslie: Well actually, I was hoping to join you for the match.
Elena: Do you know anything about esports?
Leslie: Do you know anything about loneliness?
Imagine everyone's surprise when Penelope's response was, "it's only money." It was hard to believe that Penelope could change that fast, but based on the shakiness of her voice, she had not.
Penelope was already fearing the worst. She thought they were going broke, because that was her initial reaction.
She did not show her fear until Elena mentioed that someone stole her laptop from the car.
Everything butst like a dam, as Penelope went off the rails. She screamed at Elena, and she was furious at her, but more than anything, Penelope was angry with herself.
She was upset that she splurged on a new couch when there will be car repair costs. The cost of Elena needing a new laptop.
Penelope didn't scream because she blamed Elena; she screamed because she blameed herself for letting her guard down for just one day.
Eventually, Penelope talked about why she is terrified of spending money, and the truth hit close to home -- she could not afford their rent, and for a while, they had to live with Lydia, at her old place.
Too many of us have struggled with poverty at some point during our lives. The fear of being unable to afford rent or groceries is not far fetched. Penelope is not out to lunch.
But Penelope also knows that even once she has more money than she did before, a full-price meal at a restaurant is not going to put her back into poverty.
So listen, I'm sorry I got so upset. But I need you to understand where I'm coming from. Money and I have never had a great relationship.Penelope
It is important to have the right balance when it comes to finances. It is also important to be aware of those around you, and be more sympathetic if someone is used to having less than you are.
Yes, Schneider, that was directed at you.
The cost of fixing the car and buying Elena a new laptop was way more than Penelope expected, but Elena saved up from her job working for Schneider -- a savings method she learned from Penelope herself.
That was when Penelope knew they were going to be okay. Through her overly cautious money spending rules, her kids have learned the value of it and even learned to save appropriately.
If Penelope could teach them that, then she knows they will make it through any financial hurdle life throws at them. They are family, and most importantly, they have each other's backs in times of trouble.
"Penny Pinching" ended on a funny note, finally providing the humor that lacked a little throughout.
While the episode was not as entertaining and funny as usual, it still offered a valuable take on money issues.
Now it is your turn!
What are your thoughts on "Penny Pinching," Fanatics? Did you think there was enough humor to balance the serious scenes, or should there have been more? Did you think their take on financial issues was well thought out, or did they miss the mark?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
And if you feel like watching an episode again, you can always watch One Day At A Time online right here at TV Fanatic!
Sarah Novack is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.