Hyde watched as a group of friends made their way through the halls of a high school in the TV show she was watching. She couldn’t help but hear the voice in the back of her head question why in this group of six, not one looked like her. This was something she hadn’t noticed as a kid, but as she got older and continued watching movies and TV shows, she couldn’t help but wonder why she wasn’t being represented on the screens she was watching.
In 2020, there are still certain groups of people who are underrepresented or misrepresented in the media. As reported by Los Angeles Times, a study found that among 1,200 popular films released between 2007 and 2018, out of 47,000 roles, only 4.5% went to Latinx actors. That’s what makes show One Day at a Time so special. The show, with a full main cast of Latinx actors, continues to make headlines for its effortless portrayal of a lovable family and the things they all go through.
The show, a reboot of a show from the 70s with the same title, first aired Jan. 6, 2017 on the streaming network Netflix. The original show, airing on CBS from Dec. 16, 1975 to May 28, 1984, was about a divorced mother who moves from her home with her daughters to give her daughters the life and freedoms she didn’t have when she was a young woman.
The reboot explores the story of the Alvarez’s, a Cuban family living in Echo Park, California. Lydia (Rita Morena), the charming grandmother, immigrated from Cuba, a story she often tells in the show. Penelope (Justina Machado), her daughter, works as a nurse practitioner and is veteran and single mother of two children, battling PTSD during the show. Elena (Isabella Gomez), Penelope’s daughter, comes to terms with her sexuality and explores a story of independence, love and self-acceptance. Alex (Marcel Ruiz), Elena’s sister, learns what it means to be a young Latinx boy in California and Schneider (Todd Grinnell), the family’s landlord and neighbor, learns the importance of friendship and family during the show. The show also introduces Syd (Sheridan Pierce), a non-binary character who begins a relationship with Elena. Through these characters this show is able to show topics audiences face everyday and shine a light on each story.
“I think before working on this show, I may have taken for granted how extraordinarily well as a cisgender white guy...I was represented on television.” Todd Grinnell, who plays the landlord Schneider, said. “And to see the amount of people who come to see our shows and contact us on social media and say ‘I’ve never seen myself on television until One Day at a Time’ has been staggering for us and really touches me and really makes me feel like we’re doing something important.”
After the show was cancelled by Netflix following its 3rd season (the streaming platform claimed the show did not have enough viewership), fans took to social media to express their feelings. The hashtags #SaveODAT, #saveodaat, and #RenewODAAT trended worldwide as fans and the cast alike shared their feelings online. The show’s renewal was later announced as picked up by PopTV, where new episodes now air every Tuesday at 9:30ET/5:30PT.
Based on conversations by fans on Twitter, almost every character on the show is dearly loved; the audience has been able to watch the characters’ stories from the first season and now to the fourth, watching them grow as individuals and as a family at large. One particular character much of the audience adores is Schnieder, the landlord, who’s story of sobriety is explored on the show.
“Schnieder and I are both sober people, so that’s interesting to me [...] First I felt a little vulnerable talking about that and bringing that to the character but really it’s been pretty amazing to share that and share that experience with Schnieder.” Grinnell remarked.
The topic of sobriety is one the audience is first introduced to when we learn about Schnieder’s sobriety chip.
“It’s incredibly important.” Grinnell states about Schnieder’s sobriety chip. “We have a responsibility in making this show that all the communities we represent, we represent them accurately. And because I am a member of a group of sober people at large, it's incredibly important to me that we represent that storyline accurately and fairly, and with honor and respect.”
One Day at a Time was the first show I watched where I felt such an emotional connection to the stories being told and to the characters themselves. A single episode can bring me to tears and have me laughing the next scene. The dialogue and dynamics between different characters is another thing I love. There are relationships like those of Elena and Alex, two siblings who learn over the course of the show to understand each other; or the relationship between Penelope and Schnieder who are best friends, always sticking by each other and learning important lessons from each other; or the relationship of Penelope with herself, where she goes on a journey of self acceptance and learns to do what’s best for herself.
“What really drew me in about this show was not only the comedy and Rita Moreno’s dancing skills, but also the message and portrayal of the importance of family whether that be biological or more personal.” Jedida Santana, a fan of the show expressed.
This sentiment of loving the show because of its representation and messages is one that resonates with many fans of the show as well.
“I think I consider One Day at a Time one of my favorite shows because I love the fact that I'm able to watch a show that feels relatable to me in a sense.” Santana shared. “Not only being a growing teenager and being Latino, but also experiencing life with my own family in my own small apartment.”
So far the new season has been nothing short of amazing. The first episode of season 4 does a great job of introducing all the characters to new fans and reintroducing them to the old ones, with a jab at Netflix slipped in as the cherry on top. Though the iconic theme song is no longer present in full, the show still has the same charisma it had while on Netflix, the only change being Alex’s hair. One Day at a Time is a show that reaches all people and audiences in a way not many shows today are able to.
“I think this show really tries to portray a story that not only highlights or ‘mentions’ issues or individual differences, but tries to create a deeper understanding that these things are a part of life, a part of who we are but also knowing that understanding doesn’t just stop there, it’s a continuous process and form of life.” said Santana.