Pride Month Character Spotlight: Elena Alvarez
Welcome to the sixth article in our Pride series for the month of June! Each day we will be highlighting a different LGBTQ+ character who we think is a great example of representation, dynamic characterization, and overall badassery. Check out the rest of the series here.
With Roseanne cancelled, you may be looking for a sitcom to watch about a working class family dealing with real American issues. Well, look no further than One Day at a Time (ODAAT,) the rebooted Netflix original. And ODAAT is where we find today’s Pride spotlight: Elena Alvarez.
From the beginning of the show, Elena, played by Isabella Gomez, is a spirited teen with enthusiasm for social justice. Whether she is starting a composting initiative in the cafeteria or fighting with her grandmother (played by the marvelous Rita Moreno) about the misogynistic history of the Quinceañera tradition, Elena always has a cause and is always full of passion.
About halfway through the first season, Elena realized she may in fact be attracted to girls. For the rest of the season, the show explores the process of Elena coming to terms with her sexuality and subsequently coming out out to her loved ones. Sometimes it goes well – surprisingly her very Catholic grandmother accepts it by arguing with herself for about 20 seconds. Sometimes it takes a day or two, and sometimes, unfortunately with the case of her estranged father, she is completely rejected. All of this is an incredibly realistic portrayal of what it is like to come out. It is a constant process and it is always a risk. Luckily, when it comes to her immediate family, (and Schneider the landlord, of course,) they are incredibly loving and supportive, which allows her to be out and proud and even begin a relationship in the second season.
Syd is introduced in the second season as a member of Elena’s feminist gamers group. After a bit of an awkward start over cookies with Elena yelling “Gay! Me, gay!” and Syd responding excitedly, “Me gay, too!” the two develop a close romantic relationship and even do a couples cosplay of the Fourth Doctor and the TARDIS.
Syd is a force of Pride themself as they are one of very few characters in media to use they/them pronouns. But more than that, Syd is funny and sweet and brings out a playful, goofy side of Elena. A particularly great moment is when Syd “promposes” to Elena by singing a parody of “We Didn’t Start the Theory” featuring shoutouts to bell hooks and Notorious RBG.
Elena is a compelling and dynamic character who is a great example of queer adolescence. Her story is a great beacon of hope for other teens going through a similar process.
Do you have a character spotlight suggestion? Leave it in the comments down below!