Viva Cuba is the ninth episode of season one of One Day at a Time.
Elena gets a congratulatory letter that leaves a bitter taste in her mouth. For a school project, Alex interviews Lydia, who reveals a family secret.
Alex Alvarez asks Lydia Riera why she is so happy and she says its because she dreamt of their grandfather. Schneider arrives wearing a Che shirt which upsets everyone. He takes it off and apologizes. Lydia hugs him and gives Penelope a look as she touches his muscles. Penelope arrives home from work to the kids eating with Lydia. Alex tells Penelope that he choose Cuba for his project. Elena Alvarez tells them that she is a finalist for a writing program. Penelope asks how much its going to cost her and Elena says its all expenses paid. Penelope says that they have to make room on the Alveraz Museum because she needs a visual memento of what Elena did. Alex says to remove the shadowbox with their baby teeth in it. Penelope Alvarez says that they're saving that to make a necklace for his bride to wear one day. The kids freak out and Penelope and Lydia laugh because they think that they are serious.
Penelope is in a good mood at work. She tells them it is because Elena is up for a competitive writing program. Penelope says that she's so proud of her. Doctor Berkowitz says that he had a dream to be a singer. Scott says he wanted to play in the X Games. Doctor Berkowitz asks Penelope what her dream was and she says she wanted to be a doctor. She says its okay that it didn't happen though because life took her a different way. Scott says that that really bums him out. Alex is recording Lydia talking about how she escaped from Cuba. Schneider tells him that he needs a bigger camera because this is a huge opportunity for him. Alex says that he'll make a movie and they agree to start filming the next day. Penelope comes home and tells Elena that something came in the mail for her. She gets accepted to the Voices of America but as the diversity candidate. This upsets Elena because she thinks that she only got accepted for being Cuban. She says she has to think about if she's going to accept it. Lydia steals the letter and frames it to be put on the Alveraz Museum.
Doctor Berkowitiz asks Penelope to look over lyrics that he wrote. Penelope tells him that she likes the Ham parody song. He tells her that it's never too late for her to do what she loves. Penelope asks what it would take for her to be a doctor. Doctor Berkowitz tells her that she'd have to take the MCAT, go to medical school, have a residency, and a fellowship. It would take her eleven years before she becomes a doctor. This disheartens Penelope. Schneider is setting up the camera for Alex's movie. He has Penelope and Elena acting in his movie. Elena is upset because Alex is stereotyping them and Penelope tells her that she needs to get over being selected as the diversity candidate. Elena tells her that she e-mailed the program and told them no she wouldn't be attending. This makes Penelope mad because she has a chance to pursue her dreams and she isn't taking it. Elena storms off. Lydia makes her entrance dressed in costume. She sits down and tells her immigration story. Alex is in awe of his grandmother who took care of her sisters when they came to America. The whole conversation upsets Lydia who goes to her room.
Penelope goes to see Lydia who is looking at old photos. Penelope asks if she wants to talk about it and that she'd love to hear her whole story. Lydia tells her about her older sister Blanca and how she wasn't able to come with them to America. She tells Penelope that she died when Penelope was little. Lydia says that everyday she wishes that she hadn't listened to her sister and that she wished she had looked back. Penelope hugs her and Lydia says she's happy that she left because she made Penelope. Penelope gets up and opens the curtain to reveal Elena, Alex, and Schneider who were listening. Elena tells her that she's going to take the diversity spot and that she's going to make them remember that she's Cuban. Alex apologizes to Lydia for making her relive her past. Lydia tells him its okay and that she's ready to film again.
Alex, Penelope, Elena, Schneider, Lydia, and Doctor Berkowitz watch the final product. Everyone claps. Alex tells them that he got an A+ on his script. Penelope tells them that she has an announcement and that she's going to go back to school to become a nurse practitioner. Lydia tells Doctor Berkowitz that she and him are just friends.
- Justina Machado as Penelope Alvarez
- Todd Grinnell as Schneider
- Isabella Gomez as Elena Alvarez
- Marcel Ruiz as Alex Alvarez
- Stephen Tobolowsky as Leslie Berkowitz
- Rita Moreno as Lydia Riera
- Coming soon