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After New Season Pickup, 'One Day At A Time' Showrunner Looks Ahead


And finally today, we're going to talk about the sitcom "One Day At A Time." It's a reimagining of the Norman Lear classic. This time, though, the show 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.


JUSTINA MACHADO: (As Penelope Alvarez) When did you - no, you talk.

ISABELLA GOMEZ: (As Elena Alvarez) It's just I realized that if I was going to be into a boy, it would be Josh. I mean, he's cute, and he's sweet, and he's such a gentleman. But I feel more when I look at a picture of Kristen Stewart than I do when I kiss him.

MACHADO: (As Penelope Alvarez) No wonder you saw those "Twilight" movies so many times.


MACHADO: (As Penelope Alvarez) Definitely wasn't for the quality storytelling.


MARTIN: The show won a passionate following, and there was a huge outcry back in March when Netflix was canceling the show after three seasons. Well, this week, the phoenix rises again. Basic cable channel Pop TV announced that they would pick up the show for a fourth season. Here to tell us more about the show and its future is "One Day At A Time" co-showrunner Gloria Calderon Kellett.

Welcome. Thank you so much for joining us.

GLORIA CALDERON KELLETT: Well, thank you for having me.

MARTIN: So I wasn't sure whether it was condolences or congratulations.

KELLETT: (Laughter).

MARTIN: I guess it's both.


MARTIN: It's been kind of a roller coaster, huh?

KELLETT: It's been an emotional roller coaster. But also, we felt so fortunate. I mean, shows are canceled every day, and no one cares. And it really speaks to our fanbase. And they really extended that love. They were relentless, and we're so grateful.

MARTIN: Tell us a little bit about what you love about this show and why you think that it has achieved the following that it has. What do you think other people love about this show?

KELLETT: Well, I think initially for me, it was - I wanted to give a show to my 14-year-old self that never existed. 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.

So at first, it was really just I wanted to provide a conversation with the Latinos in this country because I always felt like, oh, I could change some hearts and minds if people just came over and sat in my living room and talked to my family. And so this is really the way of doing that. And partnering with Norman was so essential because that's what he's been doing since the '70s.

MARTIN: Now, you know, on Netflix, the show could be binged. I mean, you could watch every episode in one sitting. Now that - am I right that it's going to - that the...

KELLETT: Be once a week.

MARTIN: Yeah, be once a week...

KELLETT: Yeah, more traditional.

MARTIN: ...In a more traditional consumption pattern. Do you - does that change anything for you - the way you'll think about the show?

KELLETT: Well, I think what's exciting about it is, you know, Norman's big frustration with doing it on Netflix was that we would finish the show six to seven months before it was released. And he was so used to the old CBS model - because all of his shows were on CBS - where he could react much more quickly to things that were actually happening in the news.

So this allows us that opportunity, which I know Norman and Mike Royce and I - Mike Royce being my partner in this - we're all very excited that we're a little closer to air, so we can be a little bit more timely than we were in the past, which is exciting.

MARTIN: Which is kind of amazing because you're going to be airing in the midst of the 2020 presidential election.

KELLETT: That's right. That's right.

MARTIN: Kind of might be some things going on, maybe...

KELLETT: Oh, I think so. I think...

MARTIN: ...You might want to talk about. I don't know.

KELLETT: I think this family will have things to say about that for sure.

MARTIN: Before we let you go, I just can't help but wonder what this is like for you as a - you know, a woman, a Latina, you know, at a time when there are so many conversations that you probably have had in your head for years that are now playing out in real time and that other people are trying to participate in. And I just - I'm just kind of wondering if you think that what's happened to "One Day At A Time" is some kind of a metaphor for something, and if so, what? I know that's a lot to put on it. But I just wonder, does it - does what's happened here say anything bigger, you know?

KELLETT: I think it does. I think it does. I think there has been a real starvation of representation in many communities of color, not just Latinx. 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.

And I think what people responded to in our show was that ultimately, it's about love and acceptance. 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.

And also, the immigrant experience - Lydia is an immigrant from Cuba. She just became a citizen. And a lot of people had - from various backgrounds really saw their grandparents or their parents reflected in that character. And I think that representation is important when you're feeling like there's - you know, a country that's not speaking to you completely, that your complete erasure makes you feel unseen.

So these types of shows, I think, carry a little extra water because it's making people feel seen. And certainly, the return of the show makes the Internet feel like their tweets and their voice was heard. And I think that's really empowering for a community to say, oh, my gosh. We - they hear us. Maybe they'll see us, too.

MARTIN: That's Gloria Calderon Kellett, co-showrunner for the Pop TV show "One Day At A Time."

Gloria Calderon Kellett, thank you so much for joining us. Congratulations. Can't wait to see what you do next.

KELLETT: Thank you so much.


GLORIA ESTEFAN: (Singing) This is it. This is life, the one you get, so go and have a ball. This is it. Straight ahead, and rest assured you can't be sure at all. So while you're here, enjoy the view. Keep on doing what you do. Hold on tight, we'll muddle through one day at a time. So up on your feet. Somewhere... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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