One Day at a Time was probably the closest I’ve ever come to seeing my family represented on TV. I’m a Latina lesbian, who like many other Latinx people has lived in a multigenerational household with their family at some point. But now, the show has been cancelled for a final time.
The original show, which starred Justina Machado and Rita Moreno, followed a Cuban-American single mom living in Los Angeles with her mother, son, and daughter. In Netflix's rebooted version of the original 80’s sitcom, that daughter, Elena, played by Isabella Gomez, came out as gay in season one. Her coming out arc, as well as getting a nonbinanary partner later on, was hailed as some of the best queer women representation on television.
Elena was a fresh breath when it comes to queer Latina representation. She was young, she wasn't sexualized, and she was played by a Latina actress. She had struggles and triumphs, she had a partner, she had a loving family who was there to support her when her less loving family members didn’t — as we saw in a particularly crushing episode with her father.
She was like me. And now there are even fewer characters like me on TV.
After three seasons on Netflix, the series was cancelled and moved to CBS. Now, after a truncated season there due to the ongoing global pandemic, co-showrunners Gloria Calderon Kellett and Mike Royce announced yesterday that they had exhausted all efforts to find the show a new home or expand its run at CBS.
“It’s officially over,” Calderon Kellett posted on Twitter. “But there will always be 46 episodes that we got to make that live FOREVER,” she added, “And to you, our loyal fans. We loved making this for you. Thank you for watching.”
Despite being a huge critical success with a 99% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, an 8.2 score on IMDB and a bunch of Critics Choice Award nominations, the show never really found its footing on CBS, thanks in large part to the quarantine. The fourth, and now final season was shortened to just six episodes because of the pandemic and CBS announced they wouldn’t produce any more episodes.
The real shame here belongs to Netflix, who cancelled the show in the first place at the height of its popularity, and held up potential deals that could’ve brought the show elsewhere for a while. Because they created the show, Netflix would have had to sign off on any deals that brought the show to a rival streaming network.
One Day at a Time was important, not just because it showed a character like me, but because it did so on a show that my whole family loved. This was something my mom, my siblings, my aunties and uncles, and my grandma could all watch and enjoy and see a queer Latina being loved and supported. Thank you to the creators, crew, and cast for such a wonderful journey.