Netflix is rebooting One Day at a Time, the quintessential ‘70s Norman Lear show about a single mom raising her two daughters with a distinctly feminist slant, in a time that showing both those things on television was a little revolutionary. This time around, though, the family will be Cuban-American, with the god Rita Moreno cast as the grandmother (even though she’s already rocking a perfect 2016 update on original mom Bonnie Franklin’s pageboy).
The series, Deadline reports, will mimic the structure of its predecessor—the tale of a struggling a single mom and her two kids, plus a hapless building superintendent/sexy handyman named Schneider—but with very 2016 updates. The mom will be ex-military; the eldest daughter (originally played by Mackenzie Phillips) will be a social radical; the youngest daughter (originally played by Valerie Bertinelli) will be a son. The show is being reimagined by Gloria Calderon Kellett (How I Met Your Mother) and Mike Royce (Everybody Loves Raymond), which hopefully bodes well; Lear was a sitcom god and One Day at a Time was a feminist classic, so expectations will be high.
The original series began in 1975 and would run through 1984, a pretty commendable nine-season run that saw numerous cultural and political shifts in the US. Its run through the ‘70s, though (all those earth tones and bell bottoms and giant collars!) was probably most definitive of the series: again, showing a divorced single mom on television was something of a radical act, consistent with all Norman Lear-developed, progressive television. (He was also responsible for All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Maude, Good Times and Sanford and Son, among others.) And, as with all those shows, the theme song was a total jam:
When Bonnie Franklin died in 2013, her obituary in the New York Times touched upon how important One Day at a Time was to mainstreaming second-wave feminism—and how Franklin fought to keep the show as realistic and feminist as possible:
In interviews. Ms. Franklin said she had refused to do anything that might diminish her character’s integrity. In particular, she said, it was important for Ann not to rely on a man to make decisions. But each year she found herself fighting the same fights.
“And I’m not working with insensitive men,” she told The Boston Globe in 1981. “But the men who produce and write the show still don’t believe me when I present them with the women’s point of view.
“After seven years,” she continued, “I just want to say, ‘C’mon guys, I’m an intelligent person, why don’t you just trust me?’ I’m so tired of fighting. But you can’t give up.”
Pat Harrington, the actor who originally played Schneider, died last week, on January 6. His own Washington Post obituary discussed how he, too, had a hand in making One Day at a Time as feminist as it was:
As the character was conceived, Schneider was a married man and an unrepentant adulterer who used fake maintenance problems to enter women’s apartments. Mr. Harrington, however, doubted that such an unpleasant type would fit in a show filled with far more likeable people.
On Mr. Harrington’s insistence, Schneider was recast as a bachelor with a comically grandiose sense of his appeal to the opposite sex. “At first, Schneider was pretty much a lecher,” he told People magazine. “I made sure that got changed to ‘amorous.’ It bespeaks a certain respect for women.”
Netflix has ordered 13 episodes of the One Day at a Time reboot, Deadline reports.
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