A couple of days ago, when the news that One Day At A Time would indeed get a season 4, on Pop TV, was announced, I burst out crying at my desk. No ifs and buts about it, there were no dignified tears rolling down my face, I didn’t just tear up and have time to go hide in the bathroom so no one would see me weeping over a TV show. No, I just burst out crying, as if I had no control over my emotions.
I’ve waged poetic about this show before, so it would be inaccurate to say I didn’t know that this meant something to me. Of course I knew the show was not just good, and interesting, and important. I just didn’t know how much it had actually touched me, deep down, not till I was faced with the possibility of never getting it back.
The whole absence makes the heart grow fonder, and all of that.
A while back there was this hashtag floating around twitter, and people were sharing their experiences of the first time they saw themselves on TV. As a white Latina, I had spent my whole life identifying with the white characters on just about every show, without every really fully grasping that despite the fact that they might have looked like me, they didn’t speak like me, they didn’t understand me, and a bunch of them would probably not even like me for differences that I couldn’t control.
It wasn’t till One Day At A Time that the experience of seeing yourself on TV, really and truly identifying with someone, came true for me.
Moreover, the show helped me not only see myself, it helped me see my community as an identifiable thing, and it also, strangely enough, helped me catalog the subtle differences between each part of what really is a large and differentiated community, and appreciate the things that bind us together, and more importantly, the things that set us apart.
That isn’t really something that can be put on words, not a feeling that can be replaced by creating new characters, or making a token promise to diversity. Because the reason we invest, the reason we watch entertainment, is, ironically, not just to entertain us.
We watch to learn – about ourselves, and about the world. We watch to feel – familiar and unfamiliar things. And we watch to be reminded that our experiences aren’t are valid, that our voices are heard.
And that’s why the fact that One Day At A Time is coming back means so much. Yes, this is an objectively good and funny show, and yes, it touches on many issues, not just within the latinx community, but common to families of every kind, that should be explored.
But also, this show is centered in the kind of narratives we need out there, especially in a world that has had trouble embracing and celebrating differences.
In the end, we’re all, in many ways, Elena and Papito, Penelope and Abuelita, Schneider and Dr. B. And even when we aren’t exactly them, they still feel like our family.
Thank God our familia is here to stay.
One Day At A Time will return to Pop TV in 2020.