Call me Hedwig because I’m here with the message that the rom-com renaissance is thriving and here to stay. Just about last week, we got to see a brand new reimagining of 2005’s Mr. & Mrs. Smith, and it turned out to be a very lukewarm thriller that couldn’t hold my attention for more than 10 minutes at a stretch, which was honestly deeply disappointing. So, when I went into One Day, I had no expectations. I suppose, with the absence of massive star power (both the leads are fairly new), it’s easier to judge a show for exactly what it is rather than being a pretentious prick about it (I said what I said). As lame as it sounds, One Day really made me realize how much the world has changed over the last two decades and how “friendships” have changed over the course of time. One Day isn’t a new story; in fact, it’s a tale as old as time, and I myself am getting bored of writing those words to describe anything heartfelt, which is quite a shame. It’s a classic case of “right person, wrong time,” and yet I found it oddly refreshing. Maybe I’m just getting old and wrinkly, so anything with a little bit of heart in it is enough to make me feel all gooey inside.
One Day follows the friendship and lives of Emma and Dexter, two people who found each other on the night of their graduation. I suppose for the longest time, all we’ve been getting is teen drama when it comes to the romance genre, and so a realistic portrayal of love is almost impossible to come across. If you’re a cinephile with a penchant for romance movies, don’t come at me. Of course, there’s the occasional period drama (extremely romantic) and the soap operas. This is why I think One Day is quite the Kohinoor of the present-day rom-com. It’s not original, but it’s quite pretty. The English show follows a 20-year friendship and romance between two beautiful people who can’t get enough of each other. The show spans from the late 1980s to the late 2000s; those who’d been there might even call it a golden age at this point. I guess the show really highlights in neon the many differences between the world then and now. Emma and Dex are like night and day; she’s a bookish nerd with a plan to change the world in the future, whereas he’s the handsome bloke that everyone wants to sleep with and has plans only for the next day, not the next 10 years of his life.
The show does a fantastic job of presenting both types of people in a non-judgmental fashion. We love a nerdy girl with a passion for teaching just as much as the guy who works in media on a whim and then falls off the tracks. Derailment is a difficult subject, but if portrayed rightly, it does hit the right spots. You know what I mean? Now, although this is a romance show, and we love a bit of love, there’s a deeper and more generous love in Emma and Dex’s friendship. Something I don’t remember seeing in a really long time. Yeah, we’ve got a bit of pining here and there and some heartbreak, but it’s the way they support each other and care for each other that really makes this show a massive hit for the likes of me. I do have the urge to send handwritten letters to my friends now (sigh, the signs of a great show, I suppose).
This is a show about growing up; at least the one thing that hasn’t changed is the wanderlust and power of youth. I do wish I had seen this in my early 20s; at least then, I’d have the chance for hope, but alas, I’ve accepted my fate. The show plays out like snippets of memories from every year on the same date, from 1988 all the way through 2007. One Day simultaneously makes you feel like soulmates exist and that the thought of soulmates is naive and, for lack of a better word, plain stupid. It’s a “seize your chance and don’t let go” kind of story that will have you violently smiling and then shedding thick tears (the only mascara should be in Dex’s eyelashes). Despite the melancholy in this story, it has me oddly optimistic, which is truly a rare occurrence. I’m one to always see the glass half empty, but Dex and Emma’s story tells me there’s a lot to look forward to in life.
If you told me Ambika Mod and Leo Woodall were real-life best friends, I’d believe you without batting an eye. The chemistry between these two is too real; I could almost see the waves in the air. There’s passion, hurt, pining, love, and endearment all in their eyes. It’s also the little gestures between these two that make this show work, like when Emma places her head on Dex’s shoulder while they lie down for a picnic and becomes tiny like a child while he looks massive beside her. The music is delightful, and I did feel like I got to see a lot of England and even some of Europe with these two (at least I got to do it vicariously). Even at their most despicable moments, I felt for both of these characters—a simple kind of feeling. The supporting cast is fantastic, and everyone does their role in the most convincing manner. Jonny Weldon’s Ian is a character that is memorable, specifically because of some of the dialogue he’s given. I suppose it’s the fact that a person like him can be seen too, especially in such a story.
Ultimately, One Day is a show that’ll have you feeling again if you’re stoic, or it’ll get you all charged up to love if you haven’t in a while, or maybe it’ll just give you a good time. Maybe one day you’ll think about it and pick up a hobby you left off or dial that one friend you lost touch with. Or maybe it isn’t so deep, and you’ll probably make a TikTok about how this show showed you how boring life was between the 80s and 2000s and how you’re glad you were born now and not before. I don’t know, but I think you can find out by watching this show. If you can’t tell already, this show’s got me quite sentimental, and I’d give it a sentimental 4 out of 5.