"We are Cuban. We don't get divorced. We die"Lydia Riera is a main character on the Netflix Original Series One Day at a Time. She is portrayed by Rita Moreno.
—Lydia, This Is It
Lydia Rivera is the mother of Penelope and the grandmother of Alex and Elena. She values her beauty and fitness. She is a dance instructor and does yoga. The only person who has ever seen her without makeup is Elena. Lydia is a devout Catholic and finds inspiration in the pope. Her husband, Berto, passed away, but she still talks to his "ghost" and remains loyal to him. She is what is said to be the heart of the family, she brings them together. Although Lydia is a devoted Catholic, she is very accepting of Elena and her sexuality. She was very obstinate at her daughter leaving for Afghanistan, and said she prayed everyday for Penelope's protection. Her daughter said that they fought because of it, but when her mom was in the hospital, she realised why her mom was opposed to it all along.
Lydia is originally from Cuba, but came to America at 15, in 1962, with her brothers and sisters, all except Blanca. Blanca was her older sister (19 years) but died before Lydia could ever see her again, of the "flu". She says that she has never regretted coming to America but wishes she had seen her sister one last time. Lydia is immensely proud of being Cuban and strongly protective of her connection to Cuba and her Cuban identity. She said that when she came to the US, she didn't speak the language and experienced racism, and didn't feel welcome at moments. She struggled to give up her cuban citizenship, because of her deep connection to it. However, after Elena convinced her to get naturalised, she realised that she didn't have to stop being Cuban, but had an immense amount of love for America. She became American with Schneider.
She was hospitalized after Penelope found her in her room. She was visited by Berto's ghost and offered the chance to go to heaven with him. She told him not yet.
Lydia clearly has feelings for Leslie but refuses to admit them, claiming they are just "friends". However, she was very jealous of his "relationship" with his date. When Dr. Berkowitz confronted her about it, she said that she could never give him as much love because Berto is the love of her life and her soulmate. However, when she was in the hospital he told an unconcious Lydia that he didn't care and that for him she was the love of his life.
Lydia and Alex have a very close relationship, and she considers him her other half. She and Elena are very close too, however she is often snarky towards her and their ideas differ greatly. None the less, they love each other very much and Elena regrets not speaking Spanish as much with her grandmother.
Memorable Quotes Edit
”I’m going to spoon you.” (When she walks into Penelope’s room wearing her pajamas.)
“Okay, shh!” (When she was going to “spoon” Penelope.)
“Keep your voice down.” (To Penelope at a church.)
“No, no. Just me.” (While getting everyone to shut up at Dr Berkowitz’ birthday party.)
“Hey, you guys!” (While trying to get everyone to pay attention to Penelope at Elena’s quinces.)
“The room is yours.” (When everyone looks at Penelope after she says previous quote.)
"Leslie and Lydia, Leslie and Lydia, we're just good friends!" (Whilst she was talking to Lupe and Dr Berkowitz)
"You don't know where Julio spends his time." (While comforting Penelope after she woke up from a nightmare.)
"The condiment or the dance? I am equipped for both." (To Schneider after he said he had a salsa emergency.)
"Jesus and Santa were cousins, everybody knows this!" (While Penelope and Elena were debating whether or not Elena should have a quinces.)
- Lydia hasn't spoken to Tia Mirta in 20 years because she thought Mirta stole her scarf, which Alex later finds in a living room drawer