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  • Writer's pictureYehudit Zicklin-Sidikman

Empowerment, Boundary Setting and Consent in Pop Culture, Part 3 - One Day At A Time

Updated: Dec 17, 2020

I'm not at all surprised that the next positive example of empowerment, consent, and boundary-setting in pop culture is from a show connected to Norman Lear.

For well over thirty years, the shows he's produced have dealt with all sorts of difficult and taboo topics.

And now, in his reboot of "One Day At A Time," he's done it again.

In "Outside," the second episode of the third season, Alex's mother Penelope discovers inappropriate photos of his girlfriend on his Instagram account.

Alex doesn't understand what the problem is, and claims that his girlfriend thought the photos were funny.

His sister Elena asks, “Did she? Or did she feel like she had to laugh because she didn’t know what else to do with your hand on her boob?”

And that leads to this groundbreaking scene:

The episode also includes an explanation of the term "enthusiastic yes:"

What we can learn from this:

Above all else, this is definitely a scene about "TELL." The sharing definitely helps everyone in the room heal, but it goes beyond that.

These issues are complicated, and by hearing each other's stories, everyone comes away with a greater understanding of each other and the world.

Lydia starts to understand why her story about kidnapping isn't romantic. Penelope starts to understand why Elena likes staying home.

And Alex starts to feel remorse about posting the "harmless" photos.

But even with all of that understanding, the episode doesn't end neatly.

After sharing a story about being sexually assaulted during her time as a medic in Afghanistan, Penelope says:

“If you don’t say something, you carry it around inside. If you do say something, you carry it around outside.”

“If you don’t say something, you carry it around inside. If you do say something, you carry it around outside.”

Right. And that's why we need to see more of these conversations in pop culture. We need to take away the stigma so that "carrying it on the outside" won't be so hard.

What I might change:

Honestly, I don't think there's much I'd do differently in the scene itself.

But I do wish that this conversation had continued into future episodes. I absolutely second Elena's "Teach men not to rape!" What's missing is the conversation about empowering people to stand up to the various types of violence the characters were describing.

Unfortunately, the show has been cancelled. But One Day At A Time has paved the way, so I'm hopeful that we'll see those conversations in other TV shows.

I'd love to hear your examples of similar scenes in other TV shows.

< Part 2 - Supergirl | Part 4 - P.S. I Still Love You >

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