‘One Day at a Time’ Prepares to Pop on New Network

A year ago, One Day at a Time, a bold rethinking of a vintage sitcom, was left for dead at Netflix. With Justina Machado and Rita Moreno in the cast, the reboot went for three seasons until Netflix announced its cancellation in March 2019.

Pop TV swooped in in June and resuscitated One Day at a Time. The new season premieres March 24, with One Day leading out of smash comedy Schitt’s Creek. Pop TV president Brad Schwartz said it’s the first time a streaming show has relocated to a linear channel.

“What might not be a hit show on Netflix could very well be the biggest show on Pop,” he said. “You’re dealing with different metrics.”

The original One Day at a Time, about a divorced woman with two headstrong teen daughters living in an apartment building, featuring a mustachioed superintendent who is quick to offer advice, was on CBS from 1975 to 1984.

Norman Lear created the show and relaunched it in 2017. Produced by Sony Pictures Television, the current One Day is centered around the Cuban-American Alvarez family. Machado’s Penelope is a veteran and the mother of two children, and Moreno plays Penelope’s mother Lydia.

While most reboots stay mostly true to their original template, critics found the One Day update timely and refreshing. The series got a stunning 98 on the Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer, including 100s for seasons two and three.

One Day at a Time is a show that radiates delight,” said The New York Times.

Co-creator and executive producer Gloria Calderon Kellett said the experience was positive at Netflix. “We were so creatively supported,” she said. “Netflix was really good to us.”

Critics and viewers alike howled when the cancellation came down. “We spent several weeks trying to find a way to make another season work, but in the end simply not enough people watched to justify another season,” Netflix said. Vulture called it a “betrayal.”

Comedies seem to have a tougher time breaking out on Netflix than dramas, and the platform’s younger viewers might not have connected with a multicam comedy whose original series they probably never watched.

“To hear it’s over is always a painful thing,” Calderon Kellett, who previously worked on How I Met Your Mother, Rules of Engagement and other comedies, said.

She said the reaction from viewers to the cancellation was “very moving.”

“Shows come and go and people are quite used to it,” she said. “I was very pleased and stunned by the outcry of fans.”

Rebooting the Reboot

Schwartz made his move on resurrecting One Day shortly thereafter. He said CBS All Access also went hard for it, but its status as an SVOD network, similar to Netflix (which retains the reboot’s first three seasons), prevented it from landing One Day.

Besides Schitt’s Creek, which was nominated for a best comedy Emmy last year, Pop TV shows include Florida Girls and Flack. Schwartz called One Day a perfect fit at the network, which he described as “a little comedy powerhouse,” with a brand that’s all about joy and happiness.

“Joyous comedies in dark times,” he said. “Shows that can take you away from it, and can make you cry as much as they can make you laugh.”

Pop is putting its marketing might into One Day. Schwartz said the entire network is behind it. “Sometimes it’s better to be a smaller network’s No. 1 show than it is to be a bigger network’s No. 12 show,” Schwartz said.

Part of ViacomCBS, Pop is promoting its new show across the corporation’s cable holdings, which includes MTV and Paramount Network. Schwartz described “an incredibly powerful portfolio of brands that we can use to break a piece of content through.”

Calderon Kellett appreciates the promotional push. “It seems like more than we ever got at Netflix,” she said.

One Day will lead out of the final three episodes of Schitt’s Creek. The series finale for Schitt’s April 7 will lead into a documentary about the comedy, followed by an episode of One Day at a Time. Calderon Kellett said there’s a lot of common ground between Schitt’s Creek and One Day at a Time, two family comedies that touch on inclusion.

“They’re very different shows, but they’re in line with each other,” she said.

Eyes On the Election

The new season has 13 episodes. Everyone has new relationship tangles to work out, said Calderon Kellett. There will be an episode dedicated to politics, and another focused on religion. “It’s a sexy year,” she said.

An awful lot has happened for One Day over the course of one year. “I’m glad we’re in a different place one year later,” Calderon Kellett said.

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.