I was watching One Day at a Time’s second season and I realized two things about Lydia and Schneider. It’s always seemed like Berto’s death happened when Penelope was very young but that’s not true. In the flashback episode we see that Berto was alive and well by the time Elena was born which is only 14ish years before the pilot episode. Meaning that Lydia must’ve lost Berto sometime in between and was living alone in the apartment.
Secondly, in the finale we learn that Schneider went to rehab like five times before truly getting sober. He was only able to stay clean because Lydia came to visit him.
And I can only imagine how that visit came about.
Just imagine Lydia, sitting alone in her apartment. It’s so empty and quiet. The love of her life has died, her daughter has re-enlisted taking her husband and daughter with her. She’s lonely.
And one day she needs something fixed so she goes to talk to the landlord but he’s not there. All the tenants know about Schneider’s addiction and rehap. The gossip mill is strong and he’s not exactly private about it. This is the fifth time he’s been to rehab since Lydia moved in, but it’s also the first time she feels the need to actually check on him.
So she packs some food and goes down to the rehab.
She’s known Schneider for years now. She knows how big his personality can be and she expects nothing less when she gets there but she’s not prepared for what she sees. Rehab Schneider isn’t the same landlord that she knows. He’s quiet, and sad, and alone… just like she is.
She sees him and she sees herself.
She also sees exactly what she needs at that moment… someone to care for.
It becomes a weekly thing for the two of them. All through his rehab she keeps visiting, bringing him food, delivering gossip about the other tenants and Penelope. For a while there it’s the only thing besides church that gets her out of the house.
And at first Schneider has no idea what to make of this. He’s barely spoken to this woman before that day. And when he learns about Berto and how she lost him, he can only assume that the only reason she’s visiting is because she’s just that lonely.
Funny thing is… her visits help. Seeing this small, Cuban woman walk into this rehab center, bringing him food and promising cures helps him want to stay sober. It’s more than his father - or any of his stepmothers- have done during any of his stays. He grows to care for Lydia like the mother he never had.
And when he finally gets out of rehab, he makes himself a promise. He’ll stay sober this time. He has to. For her.
Okay, I just gotta address Schneider and Victor, and the way One Day At A Time handles addiction, because this is so goddamned important to me and no one else has made this post yet.
So, Schneider and Victor are both addicts. Schneider is an alcoholic and was addicted to cocaine and probably some other drugs. Victor is also an alcoholic and has abused prescription pills. But they handle it in vastly different ways.
Victor thinks he can handle his problem on his own. He doesn’t seek out professional help because he doesn’t think he needs it. He thinks he can still have a few beers before bed. He barely even acknowledges that he has a problem. Plus, he distances himself from family support, and fights with Penelope when she encourages him to get help. Victor is arrogant about his addiction. For Victor, getting help is admitting weakness, and he’s too macho and egotistical for that.
Schneider has been in rehab six times. That’s 6 times he actively sought out help. They play it for laughs–he failed to stay clean 5 times–but addiction is hard, and Schneider didn’t give up on his recovery. He tells Penelope about how he came to terms with the fact that he can never drink again, which is such a hard thing to realize. He talks about Lydia visiting him in rehab, and how much her support meant to him. He hangs out with Alvarezes because they make him want to stay clean. They give him a reason to stay clean.
I love that One Day At A Time chose to show two different ways of handling addiction, one that is blatantly toxic and leads to cyclical behavior, and one that leads to healing and growth. Addiction is hard and people don’t like to talk about it, but as someone who’s experienced it firsthand, I can’t tell you how much I love this plot point.
I feel like we don’t talk about the moment where Penelope says that she shouldn’t need her meds and Schneider compares that to his glasses and she tries to dismiss it because glasses are such a common accommodation and he takes them off and asks if she wants to go for a drive to prove his point enough