When Netflix canceled the sitcom One Day at a Time in March, there was an outcry from the show’s legions of fans on social media.
The fans, along with TV critics, rallied in an effort to save the show, but were told by Netflix that the show didn’t have the level of popularity needed to continuing producing it after three seasons.
Those same fans are now celebrating after Pop TV announced Thursday that it is picking up the show and a fourth season will air come 2020.
Based on the Norman Lear classic, this reimagining is built around a Cuban American family. The cast features Justina Machado and Rita Moreno, and the show deals in an honest and funny way with real issues like immigration, sexuality and mental health.
When the show returns in 2020, it will be in a more traditional TV consumption format — one episode per week — meaning fans won’t be able to stay up all night and binge it.
But this is exciting for both co-showrunner Gloria Calderon Kellett and Lear since production of the entire season won’t have to be complete six to seven months before air time, allowing the show’s writers to react more quickly to current events.
In this case, that’s likely to be the heat of the 2020 presidential race, to which Calderon Kellett says, “this family will have things to say about that for sure.”
Calderon Kellett spoke with NPR’s All Things Considered and described the cancellation and subsequent new lease on life as “an emotional roller coaster.”
She says that everyone involved in the show felt fortunate when the news of its return came out.
“I mean, shows are canceled every day, and no one cares,” she says. “And it really speaks to our fan base. And they really extended that love. They were relentless, and we’re so grateful.”
Calderon Kellett, herself a Cuban American, says she wanted to make the show for her 14-year-old self, because when she was growing up, she didn’t see people who looked like her on TV.
“Growing up, I did not see my family on television, and I had to see myself through the lens of other characters, which is what many people do, especially people of color in this country,” she says.
Calderon Kellett says she wanted to “provide a conversation with the Latinos in the country” and the show has allowed that.
“I think there has been a real starvation of representation in many communities of color, not just Latinx,” Calderon Kellett says. “And it’s important to not feel that you’re erased from the American narrative. It’s important for people to see themselves in some capacity represented.”
In addition to having more Latinx representation in the media, Calderon Kellett says the stories and issues the show covers resonated with the audience.
“I think what people responded to in our show was that ultimately, it’s about love and acceptance,” she says. “We have an LGBTQIA-plus character who is embraced by her family after some trials and tribulations that everyone goes through in an honest way. But that conversation — a lot of people saw themselves, a lot of people — not just like Latinx people — saw themselves represented in that show.”
The sitcom also shows the immigrant experience in Lydia, played by Moreno, who on the show is an immigrant from Cuba who becomes a U.S. citizen.
“A lot of people from various backgrounds really saw their grandparents or their parents reflected in that character,” Calderon Kellett says. “I think that representation is important when you’re feeling like there’s a country that’s not speaking to you completely, that your complete erasure makes you feel unseen.”
It’s shows like One Day at a Time that make people feel seen, she says, and the show’s return is also a part of that.
“Certainly, the return of the show makes the Internet feel like their tweets and their voice was heard,” she says. “I think that’s really empowering for a community to say, oh, my gosh. We — they hear us. Maybe they’ll see us, too.”