And we should all be furious.
Last year, after Fox unfairly canceled Brooklyn 99 and viewers bombarded the internet with a rallying cry that would have made any Les Miserables fan proud, I thought networks took note of the outrage and learned to use more than an outdated ratings system when deciding whether or not to renew television shows, especially for ones that offer more representation than a 1990’s GAP ad. Given that Netflix canceled One Day At A Time after three acclaimed seasons that amassed a vocal following on social media, it seems the answer is a resounding I GUESS FUCKING NOT.
“We’ve made the very difficult decision not to renew One Day At A Time for a fourth season. The choice did not come easily — we spent several weeks trying to find a way to make another season work but in the end simply not enough people watched to justify another season…And to anyone who felt seen or represented — possibly for the first time — by ODAAT, please don’t take this as an indication your story is not important. The outpouring of love for this show is a firm reminder to us that we must continue finding ways to tell these stories.”Netflix Twitter
Netflix’s Twitter PR statement tells us a few things about ODAAT’s cancellation: viewership numbers continue to reign supreme and diverse shows with smaller but loyal fanbases aren’t where they want to spend their money. Of course, this is Netflix’s prerogative. It is a business after all, and the bottom line is the easiest way to make any financial decision.
However, for a show like ODAAT that is so integral in telling stories that mainstream television tends to gloss over, making such a decision because of the bottom line feels harmful for the minorities these shows represent. Moreover, the timing of ODAAT’s cancellation is especially damning for Netflix given their recent ad campaign claiming to “Make Room” for more diverse storytelling.
I suppose a show helmed by Gloria Calderón Kellett, a Cuban-American woman, and starring several Latinx actors, including the inimitable Rita Moreno and the always charming Justina Machado, while aptly tackling issues such as racism, immigration, mental illness, and sexuality, simply wasn’t diverse enough to “make room” for in the Netflix slate.
In completely unrelated news that definitely has no bearing on the canceling of a show like ODAAT, Netflix also managed to renew streaming rights for Friends, an extremely diverse television show that’s been off the air for 15 years, in a whooping $100 million deal. Oh, and The Ranch has another 20 episode season releasing this summer. I know this even though I don’t watch The Ranch because of the giant ad for the show that appears every time I log into Netflix.
Meanwhile, I’ve no idea why ODAAT didn’t hit the necessary viewership numbers given that the show’s marketing budget seemed on par with the likes of other well reviewed, yet canceled, fan favorites like Sense8 and The Get Down.
For fans, ODAAT is so much more than a comedy sitcom that follows a Cuban-American family’s daily life. Despite having a laugh track and set design reminiscent of sitcoms popular throughout the 80’s and 90’s, ODAAT makes smart use of the nostalgia to draw in viewers so that its writers can tell stories relevant to the modern American family. Even though it’s a comedy, and a well-written one to boot, ODAAT doesn’t shy away from the difficult moments.
To this day, no show has so accurately depicted the devastating truth of depression as well as season two’s “Hello, Penelope.” Elena’s coming out story remains one of the better LGBTQI narratives on television, especially with inclusion of her non-binary Syd-nificant other. ODAAT reminds viewers that addiction isn’t solved in a half hour format; it’s an ongoing battle that addicts like Schneider fight against for most of their lives and the impact of such events have lasting consequences. We need shows like ODAAT who give voice to the realities of racism and sexism in America and show that kids even as young as Alex come to face to face with discrimination and can be shaped by it.
Again, ODAAT is so much more than a comedy sitcom.
The good news is that ODAAT fans aren’t giving up on the show and neither is the cast and crew. While Netflix may pass on the series, Sony still has the option to shop ODAAT to other networks, which is what saved Brooklyn 99 last year from the unforgiving bottom line. Additionally, #SaveODAAT has been leading Twitter trends for much of the day, garnering support from several celebrities including his Highness himself, Lin-Manuel Miranda.
ODAAT has a long road ahead of it and given the current Hollywood struggle between the Writers Guild and talent agencies that is sure to have a lasting impact on the industry, the timing may not fall in ODAAT’s favor. That being said, there’s something every fan of ODAAT can do to help:
Or, you know, flood Netflix’s email with their own “Make Room” campaign and a gif of Abuelita dramatically opening a curtain.