One Day at a Time creator Norman Lear and cast member Rita Moreno penned a guest column in the Hollywood Reporter calling upon fans and media outlets to support representation and inclusivity over profits in the entertainment and showbiz industry. The two talents have been working in the business for longer than many of us have been alive, and have a perspective and breadth of experience that has led them to be especially critical of Netflix’s decision to cancel ODAAT. They offered a bit of data to reassure their audience to hear them out: “183, our combined age, the Jew and the Puerto Rican.”
“When you find a show you fall in love with, something that matters to you, something that makes you laugh louder and love harder, share it,” wrote Lear and Moreno. “Scream from the rooftops and swing from the chandeliers talking about it. Join your voice with others before, not after.” At times, their statement veered into resentful abuelitos territory, chastising us modern day media consumers for taking our entertainment options for granted. “In our day, new technology was a ‘remote control,’ needed to navigate only between the big three — yes, only three: ABC, CBS and NBC.” They are, however, right.
Rather than shaking their fists at the current state of entertainment — attention spans have waned, platforms have become oversaturated, profit has become king — Lear and Moreno instead indicated that they wanted everything that the modern age has to offer: they want to see the data. “As elder statespeople of a business that continues to evolve, we find ourselves struggling to understand the irony of living at a time of supposed transparency — you can find anything on the internet — yet we have no understanding of the data that ultimately led to the cancellation of our beloved show.” Netflix has only recently made slivers of its viewership data public.
“It wasn’t that the show failed to serve underrepresented audiences or address real-life issues with heart,” the pair continued. “We’re told by critics and fans alike that our show was ‘smart, funny, and, most crucially, empathetic toward people who rarely get such attention and consideration.’” These qualities explain how the show became so beloved among people, regardless of whether they identified with the Latinx community. “[Yet,] because of the data, we’re on to ‘next.’”
Netflix Originals VP Cindy Holland didn’t share numbers, but insisted in an interview earlier this week that the decision to cancel the show was difficult but justified. “One Day at a Time had a core, passionate but pretty small audience that didn’t materially grow season over season. Frankly, we were looking for reasons to try to continue to say yes, and we just got to the point where it was hard to find them — other than knowing we loved the show and that it had a small core audience.” Holland explained that the numbers weren’t as high as they would have liked for even a second season, comparing ODAAT to other inclusive and representative shows that have hit the ground running. “[At] some point, you have to make the difficult decision to say goodbye and try to look for other stories to tell and invest in that hopefully will garner larger audiences.”
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