Warning: The following contains spoilers for the season two finale of One Day at a Time. If you haven’t finished your binge yet, you might want to bookmark this page and return once you have. Proceed with caution!Raise your hand if the One Day at a Time season two finale moved you to tears.In the Netflix comedy’s final episode of the season, an emergency surgery necessary to prevent a stroke left the usually-vibrant Grandma Lydia (played by the always-vibrant Rita Moreno) confined to a hospital bead in a medically-induced coma. Shot like a one-act play, each of the other main characters came and went, getting their opportunity to say what they needed to say to the feisty Cuban immigrant in case she never woke up. To say it was emotional is an understatement.
Though the season ultimately had a happy ending, with Lydia pulling through and making it to her naturalization ceremony, finally becoming an American citizen alongside Canadian ex-pat Schneider (Todd Grinnell), it was certainly a nerve-wracking episode—especially when Lydia’s beloved Berto (Tony Plana) arrived for one last dance before taking her to the great beyond. When she finally told him “Not yet,” the screams of relief from the studio audience only echoed our screams of relief at home.While we were biting our nails at home, the players involved were being put through the wringer as well. “It was a heavy week on set for me,” Isabella Gomez, whose Elena shared one of the more emotional moments of the episode at Lydia’s bedside, told E! News at Netflix’s 2018 Q1 junket in NYC. “Justina Machado‘s a genius and she has her emotions right here and she’s just like, ‘And sad! And angry! And I’m this way!’ For me, I have this weird thing where once I process the scene too much, I can’t do it anymore. When it’s that emotional, it’s like my body shuts down and it’s like, ‘You’re hurting yourself.’ So it was a weird combination of ‘I want to rehearse this as much as I can, but I also want to make sure it’s fresh for the audience.’ And it was also so hard to watch everybody else, so it was a hard week.”
For Machado, who proved why she’s ODAAT‘s MVP when it came time for Penelope to get her monologue on, the experience was surprisingly enjoyable. “I loved it. It was great. I loved that ride because it was like a play,” she told us. “But we had a lot of rehearsal and we had a lot of protection. So, it wasn’t as hard when we got in front of an audience because we only did it once or twice. So we rehearsed the heck out of it in order for it to be that way. I was excited about the finale.”Much like the first season, season two of ODAAT tackled several timely and important topics, ranging from immigration, racism, PTS and depression, and LGBTQ issues, all while making us laugh and fall more deeply in love with this Cuban-American family at a time when the call for greater Latino representation in entertainment is at an all-time high. The show’s impact on that front is not lost on Machado.
“You never get tired of talking about it, seriously. Because it’s such a beautiful show. It’s so important,” she said. “I’ve said this many times. It’s a universal story told through a Latino lens and we’re helping to change the Latino narrative. And that is incredibly important to me. And people get to see themselves up there. We sound like them, we look like them. And I feel like anybody could watch our show and find some sort of representation there.””I hope they walk away with hope,” Gomez told us when asked what she wants the main takeaway from season two to be. “I hope they see that their situations are not uncommon, that they’re seen and heard and other people are going through it. And that it will get better, and especially with representation, that conversation’s happening and things are moving forward.”For more from the pair, be sure to check out the video above!One Day at a Time, which also stars Marcel Ruiz and Stephen Tobolowsky, is now available to stream on Netflix.