By Polo Munoz, Managing Editor/Publisher
There are some icons in the TV sphere that inspire bold and intrepid content. In many cases Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming channels by their very format allow and encourage filmmakers to be more free to explore and experiment, and there are some creatives that also paint a picture that is thoughtful, insightful and thought provoking… and very uncomfortable for many people.
When One Day at a Time, the 1970’s version, was first pitched, the networks did not want a divorced woman to be the lead, Norman Lear, the creator just said that if that was not allowed, him and his producing partner, would simply not do it. The network caved in and we have the show which first aired in 1975 and whose last episode was in 1984. The new iteration of ODAT is now again breaking ground and expanding horizons.
The new creators of this updated version of One Day At A Time, Gloria Calderon Kellet and Mike Royce have taken the lead from the show’s Godfather, Norman Lear, to tap into the personal stories of the folks around them. Their stories are not only authentic, they are also compelling and thrilling. The human condition, sadly, in many ways does not change. We are still wrestling with issues that Norman’s iteration addressed and tackled. He fears that this will not change and sadly we will still be having the same conversations hundreds of year’s from now. The importance of this show is not exaggerated as it is important to counterbalance the volume of negative and insensitive portrayals of people that are not considered the main stream or acceptable, people of color, the poor or the urban working class in a big city.
The example of folks like Ms Calderon and Mr. Royce set, is that we can make a difference not by what we say, but by what we do. The show, which is back on its 3rd Season on Netflix, will be specially thoughtful and gritty, uncomfortable and unapologetic. One of these episodes is their strong choice to keep true to the story of Elena Alvarez, the lesbian daughter. The writer of this episode, Michelle Badillo, reached into her own experiences and created a moment that would have help her be healthier about the natural evolution of a relationship, in this case, the relationship between Elena and Syd and they decided to make sure they presented a very sweet and forthcoming picture of a healthy, loving and thriving relationship between those two girls. Although, this time, “One Day at a Time” is about a Latino family, it affects all of us the same way “Good Times,” “The Jefferson,” “Sanford and Son,” “Maude,” and all the other shows Norman was very much a part of as creator and writer. As those shows did, this, our “One Day at a Time” gives us a glimpse into a world we just don’t know and helps us feel empathy and compassion for the people they represent, or at the very least make us laugh and enrich our day.
There are a handful of folks that are trying to create a better world through the stories they tell. They want us to learn to be more open, more compassionate about how we treat others and to be more accepting, and they are using their shows to model that behavior. In a world where many folks keep looking at “others” only through their experiences and limited knowledge, these shows are a critical and poignant way to tackle our daily prejudices and sarcastic dismissal of those “others.” May be, just may be, the entertainment industry is growing up and we are the beneficiaries of it.