Why It’s Important for Netflix to Save One Day at a Time

Lupe and her two kids share a tender moment.
Lupe and her two kids share a tender moment. Netflix
click to enlarge Lupe and her two kids share a tender moment. - NETFLIX
Lupe and her two kids share a tender moment.
On Wednesday afternoon, One Day at a Time showrunner Gloria Calderon Kellett tweeted that she had just left a meeting with Netflix where she learned some troubling news about her original series: it was once again in danger of being canceled. Why? Low viewership.

Kellett’s full tweet read: “NEWS: Met with @Netflix about @OneDayAtATime S4 / They made clear that they love the show, love how it serves underrepresented audiences, love its heart & humor, but...we need more viewers. They'll decide soon. / I wish I felt more confident / WHAT CAN YOU DO? Tell friends to watch!”

Within a day, fans and celebs alike rallied to Kellett's side. So much so that #RenewODAAT was trending Thursday. And now, here I am, telling you to watch the damn show!

If you’re not familiar with it, One Day at a Time is a remake of the popular 1970s sitcom by the same name that followed a white divorced woman raising her two daughters. Kellett turns the show on its head and gives it a Latin twist — a divorced Cuban-American mother and war vet raising her family in the early 2000s. At its core, it follows the traditional sitcom structure: conflict, funny banter, and resolution all wrapped neatly within 20 minutes. But it’s so much more than that.

As a Cuban-American myself, I have a few issues with the show — how the entire primary cast is played by Puerto Ricans and a Colombian, rather than actors of Cuban descent, for one — but you can’t win ‘em all. The bigger picture is more important here, and that is representation.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched this show and been left in tears — both from laughing and from crying. Lydia, played by the oh-so-talented Rita Moreno, reminds me so much of my own Cuban grandmother who passed away in 2007. She nails what it’s like to be a Latina grandmother right down to the mannerisms (we Cubans, in particular, have a tendency to speak with our hands).
click to enlarge Funerals are still a cause for celebration in the Latino community. - NETFLIX
Funerals are still a cause for celebration in the Latino community.
My own mother, who came to Miami from Cuba when barely a teenager, often walked by the television while I was watching the most recent season, its third, which dropped earlier this month. Although she would constantly comment, “No puedo resistir esa mujer” in reference to Justina Machado's Lupe character (sorry Justina), she would linger and stay to watch a scene or two. (And, Justina, she would still laugh at some of your jokes even though she won’t admit to it.) As a Cuban, my mother did get very excited when she saw Gloria Estefan in the season three premiere, and nodded approval when I told her fellow guest star Melissa Fumero was also of Cuban descent.

My dad, on the other hand, is a man of few words. He would hear the Spanglish emanating from the TV, turn his head, and sit quietly next to me for a full episode or three.

We Cubans are a prideful people. We like to see ourselves on TV. When we see ourselves represented properly in the media, it fills us with a sense of place that is not easy to put down into words. It’s a feeling that seeps into your bones and makes you think, Maybe I do belong here after all. Especially for people of the diaspora, who often already feel out of place, it’s comforting to know you're not alone. And shows like One Day at a Time provide that comfort.

Plus, the storylines tackled are conversations worth having. There’s the character of Elena coming out as gay to her Latino family; Alex being caught dabbling in drugs (it was just marijuana, but for any Latina mom, that’s enough to set her off); and even anxiety and depression. These are topics that are hard for Latinos to talk about, but One Day at a Time puts them out there and forces you to stop and think.

We need more of this on our televisions.

Give yourself a break from Friends and let One Day at a Time be your in-the-background-while-you-do-chores show for a while, I beg you.

And despite the show taking place in California, there’s talk of Lydia visiting Miami at the end of season three. So maybe Kellett will take her show on the road and we’ll get more Miami moments in season four. But only if you watch! And Gloria, if you need some recommendations on which Cuban-American actors should guest star on season four, may we suggest Chrissie Fit, Ana Villafane, Jenny Lorenzo, and more Gloria Estefan, please.
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Carolina del Busto is a freelance writer for Miami New Times. She nurtured her love of words at Boston College before moving back home to Miami and has been covering arts and culture in the Magic City since 2013.