A version of this story about Justina Machado first appeared in the Drama/Comedy/Actors issue of TheWrap’s Emmy magazine.
When “One Day at a Time” premiered in 2017, it was hailed by fans and critics for giving viewers a much-needed portrayal of an everyday Latinx family. Aside from their general likability and practically superhuman ability to talk through complex problems with patience and understanding, the Alvarezes didn’t really have anything exceptional about them. But in an era starved for meaningful depictions of diverse life on TV, the show felt new and refreshing and surprisingly urgent. Which is why it was so surprising when Netflix canceled the show after three seasons, saying viewership wasn’t enough to justify the cost.
“That happens a lot with our shows,” star Justina Machado said. “People say all the time, ‘I didn’t even know about that show.’ You know how many times I heard that about ‘One Day at a Time’?”
Machado pointed to Disney+’s “Diary of a Future President” and Netflix’s “On My Block” as two other ongoing shows that provide a positive, realistic Latinx perspective. Starz’s “Vida” just recently finished its run after 22 episodes, while ABC’s low-rated “The Baker and the Beauty” now finds itself in the same position that “One Day at a Time” did last year, seeking a home after being canceled by its original network.
“It’s not enough to make those pilots and put them on the air,” Machado said. “It’s not enough to let the show go four, five, 10 episodes and then say, ‘Sorry, we’re going to cancel it.’ We in Hollywood cannot say that we believe in all of those things and then not show it on screen. We have to back it up.”
“One Day at a Time” premiered its fourth season on Pop TV earlier this year, with at least five more episodes still to come, global pandemic permitting. “We in the industry can continue to say representation matters, but at some point the consumers have to get involved too,” Machado said. “We see the shows that we love and concentrate on those, but there has to be more. People out there who want to see themselves need to support those shows. And they need to say something when a show that they love isn’t there anymore.”
Thanks in no small part to the vocal online fan base that lobbied for the show, Machado remains optimistic about her show and the world it depicts. “I know how overwhelming and chaotic and crazy things are right now,” she said. “But one thing is for sure: Things need to change. It’s not a moment; it’s a movement. And I truly, truly believe that we’re headed in the right direction.”
Read more of the Drama/Comedy/Actors issue here.