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Tear Jerker / One Day at a Time (2017)

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"Hello, Penelope. It's me, Penelope."

  • "Quinces". First there is Victor's rampant homophobia after Elena tells him she's gay. Then at the ending of the episode, right as the father-daughter dance starts, Elena looks to where Victor was sitting only to see an empty chair. Becomes a Heartwarming Moment when the rest of the family (and Schneider and Dr. Berkowitz) dances with Elena instead.
  • Carmen's story in "Strays" and subsequent departure. It's extremely hard to watch, especially now with it becoming more and more real with each passing month of Trump's presidency. Makes it all the harder because it's real life.
  • The flashbacks to right after Elena's birth in 2001 are played for laughs with bits like Penelope's parents making a fuss and the younger Schneider. But then Penelope flips on the news to hear of a plane crashing into a building in New York and you realize which day in 2001 it is...
  • Penelope tries to go cold turkey from her anti-depressants, ending up recording a gut-wrenching and possibly suicidal message about her inability to feel anything that convinces her she really does need them.
    • Earlier in the episode, Penelope's Kick the Dog moment, when she lashes out at a concerned Schneider, saying he "had to get hooked on drugs just to become interesting." He looks like he's been slapped, and just walks out on her.
    • Lydia visits her pastor to ask for advice about Penelope's situation, and he gently scolds her for her disapproval of Penelope taking meds. Lydia promptly breaks down in the confession booth out of guilt, saying that if she could, she would take Penelope's pain from her.
  • In the Season 2 finale:
    • Lydia goes into a coma, and unlike the typical excuse for treacly melodrama when sitcoms do a story like this, it really does feel like the show might actually kill her off, with every bit of emotion being fully earned. This makes it all the more tear-jerking when she ends her dream of her late husband by announcing she won't be joining him just yet, to thunderous applause from the audience.
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    • Everyone's scenes where they're talking to Lydia are a combination of heartwarming and funny. Penelope breaks down and pleads for Lydia to wake up, even if just to continue their argument. Alex does her nails and talks to her about church to act like everything's okay. Elena talks about why she gave up speaking Spanish and how she regrets it and realizes she and Lydia are actually rather similar in personality. And we finally discover why Schneider is so close to the family Lydia visited him in rehab, made him food and comforted him and ended up being the driving force behind him achieving sobriety. It also turns out that he hangs around the Alvarez home so much because having them around makes his sobriety easier and he considers them all family.
    • This line from Dr. Berkowitz:
    I know Berto is the love of your life. I get that. But I think you might be the love of mine. I hope that's okay.
  • In "Locked Down," when Penelope explains to Lydia why she doesn't want a gun in the house. It's very heavily implied she's scared one of the kids could use it to kill themselves — or that she herself might harm herself with it. It becomes a lot sadder when you remember Penelope's line in "Hold, Please" about someone in her unit who "did something stupid".
  • Penelope decides to break up with Max because he wants kids but she's not comfortable having another kid and as much as she loves him, she doesn't want to deprive him of the chance to be a father. It's clear that the decision causes her a lot of pain because she does love him.
  • In season three, Schneider's father visits, which goes about as well as expected. Schneider finally stands up to him and argues against the decision to turn the apartment building into condos, which would force out the tenants, Alvarezes included. Because family's everything and he considers them his family.
    • His father's visit also leads to Schneider relapsing after eight years of sobriety, which results in a downward spiral that ends when Alex finds him passed out on the floor of the laundry room. The family helps him sober up and he breaks down in front of Penelope about how bad he feels about it and how he's sorry for disappointing them. It ends in Penelope hugging him and accompanying him to an AA meeting.
  • Elena gives a speech at her father's wedding on how much she loves him. In private, she tells Alex she still feels angry about Victor not handling her being gay well. She gives a speech on her real thoughts about how much it hurts and crying over it with Alex giving her a hug.
    Elena: I'm Elena Alvarez. You might remember me as the girl who was abandoned by her dad in the father-daughter dance of her quinces. Hi. How you doing? Nice to see you. Papi, I know you're trying. That doesn't erase all the bad stuff that happened, and everything's not okay yet. And today, it was me making sure everybody was comfortable, and me saying nice things about you, and me showing up for you on your big day when you didn't show up for me on mine! [crying] I should not have to be doing all of the work. The bigger person shouldn't have to be the kid. Anyway, Nicole seems really nice. Congrats.
    • Then at the reception, Victor admits to the party how he wasn't a nice guy to his family and openly apologizes to Elena for what he did. He then has the overdue father-daughter dance with her.
  • Penelope finally calling her mother out for her constant criticisms of her.
    Penelope: You’re always comparing me to you, because you think you’re so perfect, but a perfect mom doesn’t make her kid feel like this!

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