The revival of One Day at a Time on Netflix has introduced the throwback spirit of Norman Lear television to a fresh socially-minded audience with an affection for binge-watching. The new series breathes new life into the series with a Cuban American family and, like Lear sitcoms before, it tackles topics on the forefront of society including gun control, mental health, and immigration. Lear, who was welcomed to the Contenders stage with a standing ovation, was joined by showrunners Gloria Calderon Kellett and Mike Royce as well as star Justina Machado to talk to moderator Dominic Patten about the show and what’s in store for season three.
Royce admits that they never set out to do an “issues show.” He said “we are living in a time when issues are embedded in our lives” so having storylines about hot-button topics was unavoidable. More than that, Royce says that the ODAT writers room is filled with people living dramatic lives.
“We are living in a different time and there has been a seismic shift,” adds Kellett. “We are able to reflect on [these issues] and how it affects this family.”
For season three, considering our current social climate, Royce said their writers’ room board was filling up with story ideas and Kellett says that there is definitely no shortage of stories.
For Lear, who created the original ODAT in the ’70s, he couldn’t be happier with the show. He said in all its “deliciousness,” it has all the humanity he hoped for. “We are just other versions of each other,” he said. He points out how Kellett, who is Cuban American, “delivers” all of the culture to the sitcom.
Despite the strides the show has made when it comes to inclusion and tolerance, Lear said “We have a long way to deliver the America I inherited.”