When it debuted on Netflix 2017, one might not have expected One Day at a Time to become a beloved cult series. The show, a remake of the Norman Lear series of the same name from the 1970s that starred Bonnie Franklin and Valerie Bertinelli, showed up on Netflix in 2017. It was executive-produced by Lear himself, who is now in his 90s, though it was created and run by Gloria Calderón Kellett and Mike Royce.
The new One Day at a Time adapted the original’s premise about a single mom at the head of a family, while switching up a few key things: It moved the action to Los Angeles’ Echo Park neighborhood, it made the family Cuban-American, and it dealt with 21st-century social issues.
Justina Machado starred as Penelope, an Army veteran, and single mom, and her children were Elena and Alex (Isabella Gomez and Marcel Ruiz). The screen legend Rita Moreno played the Cuban-born, frequently dancing grandmother, Lydia, while the building super Schneider was played by Todd Grinnell as a recovering alcoholic, trust fund hipster.
One Day at a Time had episodes about depression, anxiety, alcoholism, gay teenagers, and many other topics, but it avoided the type of smugness and insufferableness often associated with “woke” entertainment. In fact, in combining great character work with political salience, it was doing something a lot like what Lear himself has been doing in the sitcom world since the early 1970s.
The show ran on Netflix for three seasons, building up a passionate but too-small audience, until it was canceled after Season 3. The show was then revived by Pop TV — the first-ever canceled Netflix show to return on a network — and aired seven episodes this spring, including one pandemic-produced animated installment. The show even got a brief run on CBS, a corporate sibling of Pop TV and the network that aired the original Lear show:
But sadly, Pop TV said last month that it would not be moving forward with the show, and this week, One Day at a Time’s creators and Sony Pictures Television threw in the towel, announcing that the series is officially over.
Sure, it’s sad that the show is over. But despite some of the worst circumstances, this outstanding show continued for four seasons. Be happy that we got them.
CULTURE (counter, pop, and otherwise) and the people who shape it.