I’m almost halfway through with Season 2 of One Day at a Time, and something happened at the end of Episode 6 that I need to shout about for a minute. But first, a little history.
I loved the original ODAAT. I watched it as a kid, and in college, when I booted up my computer it played the theme song, because I was that cool. Why no, I didn’t date much in college. Why do you ask?
And you may think that my big draw to this show was a crush on one of the strong female characters, but you’d be wrong. It was this guy.
No, not a crush, weirdos. It as more of an…admiration. The swagger. The confidence. The jeans and vest and cigarettes rolled up in the sleeve of his always-crisp-and-clean white T-shirt. The tool belt. The key ring.
This. This was my aesthetic. I even tried to get my grandmother to name the stray cat on her porch after him. It didn’t work, though, because Grandma thought Schneider was a stupid name for a cat and “Tiger” was so much better. So unimaginative.
I knew it was weird. This isn’t how I should want to dress, you know? That’s not what little girls should be. And I definitely shouldn’t be taking my mom’s cigarette packs or the candy cigarettes we got at Hall’s Mart out the ridge and rolling them up in my sleeve. I knew it was just another one of those things that made me different. And not necessarily in a good way, at least by everyone else’s standards.
But I thought it. And I did it, when no one was watching. And it felt…good. I felt alone, but I felt more like myself than when I had to wear a dress or my uniform skirt. And I will say I was lucky — except for the uniform part, my parents really didn’t force me to dress a certain way. I was always allowed to make my own choices, often from hand-me-downs from my brother, which worked. But letting an 8 year-old roll up a pack of Winstons in her sleeve pushed the boundary a little too far, I guess.
Today, after I watched that amazing Episode 5 that made my gay heart explode into a thousand tiny pieces over the nerdy relationship that Syd and Elena started (complete with proper pronoun usage from Elena’s family), I decided to watch another episode. And at the end, there it was.
Even though I was spoiled that it would happen (I really need to learn how to mute hashtags on Twitter), I started to cry.
I am almost 41 years old. I’ve been out for decades. I am married to a wonderful woman, and I do what I want and dress how I like. I deal with the staring when it happens because I don’t fit someone’s mold of what a woman should be. But seeing Elena dressed like that? Seeing her as what I wanted to look like? It got me.
Maybe…maybe I wasn’t the only one.
Maybe I wasn’t the only 8 or 10 year old kid who looked up to a nontraditional idol as their swagger/clothing/wardrobe goals.
Maybe there was another little kid in West Virginia who wanted to put on a tool belt and play handyman instead of playing a different kind of dress-up involving an actual dress.
Maybe I wasn’t as wrong or different as I thought back then.
Maybe my different was actually good.
I was nowhere near as self-aware as Elena is, so I don’t always see myself in her. It look me much longer to come out, and even longer still to actually date someone who deserved me. But Elena’s “look at me — I’m butch” moment?
Yes. Yes, you are. Yes, I am, sometimes.
It’s different — I am different — in the best possible way.
Thank you for that, ODAAT. This is a show that would have changed my life as a kid, so for all of the lives you have changed, will change, and are changing, thank you.
Are you also enjoying ODAAT? Have you had moments of on screen representation that have spoke to you? Sound off below!
One Day at a Time Season 2 is now streaming on Netflix.
Monica is a queer fangirl who lives in Pittsburgh with her wife and cat. She cohosts a Wynonna Earp podcast called There’s Something in the Heir, her favorite Buffy episode is “Doppelgangland,” and one of her favorite TV couples is Ben and Leslie. You can find her shouting about strong female characters and queer representation @lesbiyinzer on Twitter.