ENTERTAINMENT

'One Day At A Time' And The Future Of Latinx TV

We dive into Netflix's March decision to cancel "One Day at a Time," shining a light on problems with Latinx representation.

I didn’t watch “One Day at a Time” until it was canceled. 

On March 14, Netflix canceled the sitcom, centered around a Cuban-American family, after three seasons. I hadn’t actually heard about the show until well into its first season. It didn’t surface on my Netflix algorithm or any of my news feeds. In fact, I first heard about the series from my dad, who called, ecstatic, to share that the grandson of his neighbor from Puerto Rico was co-starring in “a show alongside Rita Moreno.”

But in mid-March my feed was ablaze with #SaveODAAT, so I picked up the show at Season 2. The top of Episode 1, “The Turn,” addresses a conflict between the family and their youngest son, Alex, to whom they give the endearing nickname “papito” (or, “young boy”). After a baseball game, where the family loudly chants “dale, papito, dale!”, Alex demands to be taken more seriously and be addressed by his *sniffs* grown man name. 

The moment shook me into a memory from a 2011 family vacation to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. My not-so-kid brother Rafael, who we call “bebo,” broke down into the same plea, goddamn nearly word for word. Bebo has it rough with a nickname that translates literally to “baby boy.” And while the boys put up a good fight, they don’t stand a chance against the inertia of Latin tradition. Because in the wise words of Justina Machado, “Yeah, no, we’re gonna keep calling you papito.”

I’m certainly not the first to celebrate the impact of minor plot points, character details or even set decor in “ODAAT.” And March’s #SaveODAAT was such a profound movement, rallying even those of us who admittedly hadn’t seen the series. But watching the series with its finality in mind is a sweet reminder of how intimate moments of representation can be. And one month later, the “ODAAT” fallout still has a lot to say about Latinx media in Hollywood.  

What does it take for a show like “ODAAT” to succeed? What does it say about how a gatekeeper like Netflix approaches its Latinx audience? And how do we move forward with narratives that engage the largest parts of the Latinx market? To hear more, watch the “ICYMI By HuffPost” conversation about “ODAAT” and Latinx representation in the video above.

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