The Alvarez family may seem on top of their game, but One Day At A Time Season 4 Episode 5 proved that it is never as easy as it looks, especially if you feel less than perfect.
On "Perfect," Alex struggled with those feelings -- and by doing so, delivered a powerful message on success versus failure.
While "Perfect" was not as funny as some of the previous episodes, it still proved its worth by hitting the audience hard with the reality of fearing the unknown -- failure.
The episode sent this message through two separate storylines. The first being Alex and his new fashion design venture.
Alex needed five hundred dollars to take the class, but initially, he did not want to tell Penelope why he needed the money. He was afraid of his family, laughing at him, but his fear ran more profound than that.
Alex: So I figured that if I'm not gonna be great, it's better not to do it, right?
Penelope: No. You gotta keep doing it.
Alex: You already said I could quit.
Penelope: Yeah, that's when I thought you hated it, but now that I know you love it, I expect you to work until you're miserable. You can't be afraid to fail. You think I'm gonna love you any less because you're not perfect?
Alex: I mean, I'd rather not find out.
Alex was scared of being mediocre, especially in comparison to his sister, mom, and grandmother. He even said it himself towards the end of the episode.
He was afraid of being made fun of because all along, Alex's biggest insecurity was feeling average.
His family has accomplished great things -- Lydia escaped Cuba and made a life for herself in America, and Penelope went back to school and became a nurse practitioner. Elena was in the process of applying to Yale, a top school in the country.
So Alex could not initially tell his mom why he wanted to take a fashion design class. She might have laughed it off because it would be inferior compared to Elena's, Lydia's, or Penelope's achievements.
Penelope: Alex, relax. You only took one class, it's okay not to be perfect.
Alex: Not in this family! I mean everyone here is killing it! And a badass! And a strong independent woman!
Alex's fears only worsened when he discovered he was terrible at sewing, an essential skill needed for fashion design.
He quit his class because if he could not automatically be good at something, then he would always be average. If he faced failure, then he would never live up to be perfect like his family.
Thankfully, Penelope had a serious conversation with her son, and it was this discussion that delivered a valuable lesson -- a fear of failure will guarantee failure. If you are not good at something, you get back up, and you keep trying until you become better at it.
It's okay to be bad at some things. Dare to suck! It's the first step to getting good. And if you love the fashion thing, you have to keep going back, and not be afraid to be bad at it for a while. Because you'll get better. We're all learning. It's a process.Penelope
As for Alex's fear of being seen as ordinary by his family, well, it was anything but that. Penelope, Lydia, and Elena love Alex for who he is. They will not think of him as less or love him any less just because he has to practice something he wants to do.
Penelope and Alex's heart-to-heart hit the audience emotionally, but not without a satisfying end to Alex's storyline. Even if "Perfect" was not as funny as some of the more recent episodes, it was still meaningful.
Well done, One Day at a Time!
While Alex was struggling with his fashion design class, Avery and Schneider's storyline also revolved around the vulnerability of failure. They were afraid that their relationship would fall apart after their baby is born.
Especially when Leslie tells them his marriage disintegrated after the birth of his child.
Leslie's presence led Avery and Schneider to their very first fight, over Ruckus, a human-sized clown Leslie gifted to them.
After his initial reaction, Schneider decided he wanted their baby to have the clown, as a friend. Avery was shocked and refused to force their baby to endure the clown's creepy presence.
Their argument lasted until their first ultrasound, proving that it was more than just about the clown.
Ever since Leslie brought up his disastrous marriage, Schneider and Avery have been walking on eggshells around each other, afraid of falling out of love once their baby arrives.
They were scared that they would turn out to be like Leslie -- lonely and desperate for human interactions.
Despite their strong relationship, Avery and Schneider could not stop fighting because they gave in to their fear of failure. They subconsciously accepted that they would drift apart once their child arrives.
But Avery and Schneider did not even try. Their baby would not arrive for several months, and they both worked hard to get to where they are now.
They are not like Leslie and his ex-wife. They realize this, especially once Leslie tells them at the ultrasound that his marriage disintegrated because his wife cheated on him.
Avery and Schneider were so afraid of failing their relationship that they allowed fear to control their relationship, instead of working hard at it.
Because hobbies are not the only things that need hard work, relationships need them, too.
Schneider: I'm sorry I got so worked up about Ruckus. I was such a lonely kid, I would have loved to have a buddy. Anybody.
Avery: Now you have a buddy. Me. And our baby doesn't need a creepy stuffed companion, 'cause they'll have us.
To have a successful relationship, Avery and Schneider have to work at it. They may disagree sometimes, but ultimately, if two people want to be together, they can make it work.
What a beautiful reminder. Thanks, Avery and Schneider! We know they are soulmates.
Now it is your turn, Fanatics!
What did you think of One Day at a Time Season 4 Episode 5? Did you appreciate the message? Did you like that they favored valuable lessons over hilarious jokes? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
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.