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One Loss At a Time

One Day at a Time on Netflix

Critically acclaimed. Ground breaking narratives. Plus, the indomitable Rita Moreno. Despite the accolades, star power, and a bevy of recent support on social media, Netflix decided to cancel the promising show, One Day at a Time, citing lack of viewership in an apology that the twittersphere considered…lacking. Leaving us thinking, pero like, why?

The show, which first appeared in our Netflix queues in 2017, starred Justina Machado and Rita Moreno. Backed by an effective supporting cast, these two women delivered hilariously fierce performances that highlighted the struggle and triumphs all Latinx families face living in America. The comedy also helped bridge the divide for generation Y and millennials who might have been unfamiliar with Rita Moreno’s previous work, or her status as an icon. For many of us, we were able find laughter, and ultimately ourselves in the show’s story. Feeling seen is powerful so saying goodbye is bittersweet. To hear our reyna say it herself:

The program, a reboot of the Norman Lear 1975 television series by the same name, was very intentional in its efforts to bring marginalized characters and narratives to the forefront. Using its combination of situational comedy while tackling serious issues facing the Latinx community (such as homophobia, alcoholism, single motherhood, generational trauma, racism/xenophobia, and immigration), the show became a little engine that could, fighting season after season to justify its existence to top executives.

With the promotional mechanism for Latinx programming constantly fighting to be bigger and better (think of Narcos: Mexico) in order to compete in the marketplace, we are struggling to see these nuanced stories with smaller budgets rise to the surface or gain the level of traction that shows like Modern Family, which features some Latinx characters as overt stereotypes, obtain. Still, we are left to wonder how these rankings are determined. Jane the Virgin and On My Block survived, but One Day at a Time not being renewed stands out, especially when show’s like troubled Aunt Becky’s nostalgia driven Fuller House, still get to light up our queues. Netflix has not disclosed what the viewership numbers were, and honestly, we may never know.

Going forward upcoming projects will have to be aggressive in fighting for their share of the one-size-no-longer-fits-all-market. For future scriptwriters and show runners, one thing is clear: crafting real stories will be the key to maintaining integrity in our narratives because our families are not cookie cutter. The realities of generational assimilation, complex socio-economic struggles, legacies of abuse, and mixed status families are all part of the subtext. As studios continue to try to cash in on this wave of Latinx media, we will have to deal with each setback by seeing it as an opportunity. In fact, the team behind One Day at a Time, are already mounting lobbying efforts to have an alternative network pick up their show. Maybe it’s not a loss, after all.


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