One Day At A Time & Its Non-Binary Representation

Thus far, I have yet to find genderqueer representation in any of the on-screen media that I have consumed. Whether that be because it was so slight as to be unnoticeable, or because there was none to be spoken of, the character of Syd in One Day At A Time is the first time I saw myself on screen. To say that it was a profound moment in my existence, would be accurate.

If you follow me on Twitter, then it is no secret that I am a massive fan of the Netflix television show One Day At A Time. I have been counting down the days since I binged the previous two seasons until I could watch another one. As the third season premiere is one day away, I felt it more than appropriate to discuss my thoughts and feelings on a non-binary character being added to the diverse group of previously established characters. That is why I love ODAAT; the show, which in and of itself is a work of art, also includes non-binary representation within it.

Syd, the aforementioned character, is brought onto the show and introduced in a way that allows for the education of those, who are not familiar with others who utilize “they” and “them” pronouns. As it is a sitcom, there are jokes made, but the heart of it all lies with the respectful execution of this plotline. The fact that the effort was made for someone to accurately portray my existence made this show even better than it had been before Syd existed.

As with all aspects of life, there are some who have raised concerns about Syd being identified as Elena’s girlfriend. Although I can understand why there has been criticism, I also am aware that in my own life, I still have family refer to me as “girl” or “mija”, rather than other words that would describe who I am. I think that this decision is another layer, which adds reality to a show made to represent so many groups of people, whether that be age ranges, ethnicities, or LGBT+ individuals.

While I cannot speak for the other ground-breaking portions of the show that do deserve all of the praise, I do have opinions about Syd. In short, I adore them and acknowledge that their mere presence in the show itself is a sign of the times and a beacon of hope that others notice those of us who are non-binary too. I am grateful to live in an age where One Day At A Time exists. I only hope that other forms of media will take note, and include us for the right reasons too.

Disclaimer: All opinions are my own, and I receive no endorsement or monetary gain from this post.

Also, despite the surname I carry, which I adopted upon marriage to my spouse, I am not Latinx, but merely a caucasian LGBT+ person. I lay no claim to the culture, but I still enjoy learning about it, all the same.

To See and Be Seen

Imagine viewing a show far removed from your comfort zone or interests because you had been searching for months or years, and it was the only one, or one of a small handful of options, that had the exact plot line you hoped for. Perhaps this occurred because it portrayed it well, or maybe happened to include it at all. Such is the life of at least a portion of the marginalized around the world, who aspire to see themselves in all forms of media, including television or movies.

While I know I cannot speak for anyone other than myself, as a person who is a part of the LGBT+ community, up until the past few decades alone, an infinitesimal blip on the life span of chronological time, there were slim pickings for content that did not demean who I am, or exclude me at all. Furthermore, despite inclusion within certain current series or films, there have still been cases of mediocre or damaging forms of diverse representation for the sake of feigning relevance or enlightenment. It is disheartening, and depending on the character depiction, can be dangerous to our community, or others that I am not a part of, as a whole.

To add insult to injury, there are certain shows or movies that have committed egregious acts, such killing off the single person of color or queer character, as well as, queer baiting the audience to drum up ratings. These sort of habits only add to the dwindling list of media that would have drawn more viewers of all identities and shades, were it not for the fact that the marginalized were treated as no more than token accessories, or punch lines to jokes that only bigots would laugh at.

Nevertheless, since the turn of the century, and certainly within the last decade, there has been progress. But, to those of us who are similar, but have separate experiences, depending on who we are, the options may still be limited. Whether that be because of sexual orientation, gender identity, or skin color, despite the advances that the film and television industries have made, there is room for much growth.

To be seen in media is to be seen by the world. By the deliberate exclusion of those of us who have been relegated to the blanket term of “other” or “wrong” by society, this can be isolating, when it seems on all fronts elsewhere, we are already fighting to be heard by those who do not understand or care about us to begin with. In the future, I look forward to reaching a point where those of us who hope for our own brand of good representation, will not be forced to watch something simply because that is all there is to choose from.