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It was a show that made the zany travails of a California-based Latino family relatable and universal, and the cast included acclaimed screen legend Rita Moreno.
So it was no surprise that hundreds of thousands of fans and supporters of the Netflix show "One Day at a Time" overwhelmingly responded to the company's tweet Thursday that it was canceling the sitcom after three seasons. The outcry went viral, with the hashtags #SaveODAAT and #OneDayAtATime trending on Twitter almost immediately after Netflix broke the news.
Not even award-winning TV legend Norman Lear understands why Netflix decided not to renew the remake of his 1970’s sitcom.
“I can’t thank Netflix enough and our partners at Sony enough for the three seasons, but I wish I could understand Netflix’s decision to not pick us up for a fourth,” Lear, who is one of the show's producers, said in a statement. “Is there really so little room in business for love and laughter?”
According to Netflix, “not enough people watched to justify another season."
There is no publicly available information about how many people have watched the show; Netflix is known for being secretive about its viewership data. In most cases, Netflix doesn’t even share this information with the directors and the stars involved in its productions.
In the past, the company has said that its business model is centered around its hundreds of million of subscribers, not advertisers — meaning that its user base, and not viewership, is Netflix’s focus.
“They [Netflix] claim that they don’t see numbers,” Alex Nogales, president and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, told NBC News. “I always find that hard to believe … which one is it? For years, they’ve been saying that they don’t care about numbers and now they do.”
NHMC has praised the show and mounted campaigns around previous seasons, calling for its continuation.
In a previous interview with CNBC, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said “our hit ratio is way too high right now. ... I’m always pushing the content team, ‘We have to take more risk. You have to try more crazy things.’ Because we should have a higher cancel rate overall.”
But "One Day at a Time" has generated fierce loyalty and support, in part because the show has received high marks for getting Latino representation right. It has also tackled issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and veterans' issues (the mom in the show is a military veteran), LGBTQ storylines (the teenage daughter comes out as gay), and cultural and racial stereotypes (the Cuban-American family's son is told to "go back to Mexico" by school bullies).
Broadway's "Hamilton" creator and actor Lin-Manuel Miranda essentially kicked off the social media campaign after tweeting: “‘Yknow, that Latinx audience is SO vast and SO underserved...if only we had a show that we KNOW would have a passionate, young fanbase…’ [said] Every TV exec everywhere. Us: Haaaave you met #ODAAT”
“I am heartbroken. The Latinx community NEEDS this show,” Fumero tweeted. “ITS A GREAT, FUNNY, & HEART FELT SHOW… SOMEONE SAVE IT! “
Showrunners Gloria Calderón-Kellett and Mike Royce, alongside the show's studio, Sony Pictures Television, publicly put out feelers about finding a new home for the show sometime this year.
“Good morning networks. I’ve met with you in the past & you’ve said ‘If only we had @OneDayAtATime’ Good news.... we can be yours! We can easily do a reset so that those not familiar with the show will get all the info they need. Call Sony. The fight continues,” Calderón-Kellett said on Twitter.
Shows have been "saved." Can “ODAAT” be next?
As people continue to #SaveODAAT, some have brought up instances in which television shows have been picked up by other networks after being canceled.
For example, country music TV show "Nashville" was picked up by CMT in 2016 after being dropped by ABC. Four years prior, ABC had dropped the comedy “Cougar Town,” which later found a new home in TBS. And last year, Amazon picked up “The Expanse” after SyFy canceled the show.
The most recent example is the comedy cop TV show “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” Fox decided to cancel the show after five seasons, but NBC picked it up for a sixth season.
This was a fairly easy transition because “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” was already produced by NBC’s studios, even though it aired on Fox.
In the case of “One Day At A Time,” it’s not that simple.
The show was distributed by Netflix but produced by Sony Pictures Television, which unlike NBC’s studios, is not affiliated to a TV network that could air the show. Instead, they would have to actively pitch the sitcom to a company that can handle the show’s on-air distribution.
Nogales really hopes the show gets picked up again.
“All it takes is one leader of that [media] company to say, 'this is a good show, let’s put it up,'" he said.
NHMC has referred to “One Day At A Time” as a guiding light, "a true north in an industry grappling with issues of diversity, equity and inclusivity." Groups such as the NHMC and others cite studies that show Latinos are underrepresented across all areas of the entertainment industry.
“Latinos are 18 percent of the [U.S.] population, but then when you look at the numbers in film and TV, they are just not there,” Ana-Christina Ramón, co-author of the UCLA diversity report, previously told NBC. “When Latinos are portrayed, they are often presented as criminals or immigrants, or in a one-dimensional fashion, so there is no way to counteract stereotypes if people are not interacting with Latinos in real life.”
While Nogales and others consider “One Day At A Time” a win for diversity and representation in Hollywood, he said the legacy of the Emmy-nominated sitcom goes beyond that.
“What you had is: a great showrunner (Gloria Calderón-Kellett, who is Cuban-American), quality writing by Latinos, quality acting by Latinos … Who’s going to argue that Justina Machado [the star of the show] is not an excellent actress?” he said. “The legacy is one of excellence, of what can be accomplished by Latino artists. It sets a standard for quality programming.”