Norman Lear’s New ‘One Day at a Time,’ with Latin Flavor
Latest addition to Hollywood's reboot love affair, but with strength
If you thought the multi-camera sitcom filled to the brim with laugh tracks had been retired in favor of more dry and modern comedies, Norman Lear would disagree. “One Day at a Time” is a new sitcom produced by the veteran television creator (“All in the Family,” “Sanford and Son,” “Maude”) that follows a working-class, Cuban-American family in Los Angeles.
Produced by the 94-year-old Lear, the show premieres on Netflix on Jan. 6 and works as a reboot of the ’70s sitcom of the same name, also from Lear. The show follows a three-generation family living under the same roof, the mom a divorced military veteran who is working to provide for her family.
The series is the latest addition to Hollywood's reboot love affair. Along with currently airing reboots with new casts and updated concepts like "Lethal Weapon" and "The Exorcist," "Charmed" was just announced to be in the works as an upcoming CW series. The show, which starred Alyssa Milano, is about three witches who fight evil forces together. In the same fashion as "One Day at a Time," the reboot will have an entirely new cast and is rumored to revolve around more relevant social issues regarding women's rights.
The series stars a top-notch cast, including Justina Machado and Academy Award winner Rita Moreno — and Lear's name seemed to be the most appealing thing attached to the reboot during the making of it. "Two words: Norman Lear," Moreno, whose previous credits include "West Side Story" and HBO's "Oz," told USA Today about her decision to move into the role of a grandmother on a sitcom.
"America should do a far better job caring for its veterans. 'Thank you for your service' doesn't do it," Norman Lear told LifeZette.
Lear's goals remain bigger, as they always have with his sitcoms, which often pushed perceived social and cultural boundaries. "I emphasize the common humanity. To laugh at them and live with them for a half hour is to share in their humanity," he told USA Today about the program's focus on a Cuban-American family.
With this family front and center, social issues are on the mind of the makers; the program may work as a platform to discuss topics that will divide conservative and liberal viewers. "Now that we're going into a new [presidential] administration, I think it's going to be even more relevant," Moreno said regarding the show's issue-based storylines.
Among those issues? The 15-year-old daughter of the program finds her upcoming quinceanera to be a decaying sign of patriarchy, while the mother (Machado) argues with her boss about equal pay for women.
However, for every issue that may draw a line with viewers, there are some that will be shared interests among working-class Americans. One of them is the veteran status of Machado's character and the central role it plays in the program. One episode will reportedly follow a hassle she has when trying to receive a medical referral from the Veterans Administration — an organization that both sides of the political aisle can agree needs reforming.
Got Your 6, an organization that works to improve the way veterans are portrayed in the media, even gave the show its "Certified 6" stamp of approval, which is only awarded to programming that depicts military veterans in a fair and honest light.
"America could and should do a far better job caring for its veterans. 'Thank you for your service' doesn't do it," Norman Lear told LifeZette.
"One Day at a Time" may be a platform that tackles uncomfortable social issues that won't always be friendly to the impending administration (see Moreno's words) — but it certainly can be seen as a major cultural shift in television, a cultural shift that ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey predicted would happen in the wake of Trump's election. The television executive revealed while talking at the Content London media summit that Trump's victory revealed a frustration with an underrepresented working class in America, and programming would likely work to fix that.
"One Day at a Time" may come from the typically liberal Lear, but it's a show very clearly about a working-class American family. Hollywood may crow about diversity, but Latin Americans and military veterans are incredibly underrepresented in programming — two staples of the characters in the new Netflix program.
"One Day at a Time" is an intriguing new step for Netflix. While both a nostalgic look back at the laugh track-infused sitcoms of Norman Lear, it's also a step forward for Hollywood in many ways. Despite any political slants in the show, it's one about a working-class, military family — try finding that anywhere else on TV.