Netflix Cancelling "One Day at a Time" is a Step Back From Diversity

Over the past decade, the entertainment industry has introduced a myriad of stories to audiences around the world, including stories of fantasy and supernatural orders, stories of medical and legal dramas, stories of adventure and horror, and more. Perhaps the most compelling stories are those of emotion and real life. Stories that capture the essence of our social and cultural realities. Stories that are able to invoke a sense of emotion, reality, and relatability among viewers. However, for the past decade our entertainment industry has neglected and overlooked diverse stories that reflect the distinct social realities that racialized groups experience on a daily basis. Netflix's recent cancellation of its original series One Day at a Time only further expands this belief given that it joins a number of other inclusive television series that were unfortunately faced with cancellation as well (e.g. The Get Down, Sense 8 etc).

Image via Screen Rant

For those who weren’t aware, One Day at a Time was a Cuban-American reboot of Norman Lear’s classic sitcom. The series followed the Alvarez family, who was headed by a recently-separated military mom who attempts to navigate a newly single life while raising two children with the help of her own mother and their building manager/family friend. Although officially established as a comedy, the series does not shy away from stories of tragedy and hardship. The writers have introduced storylines relating to gender relations, homophobia, sexuality, PTSD, drug and alcohol addiction, racism, and intergenerational dichotomies. Most importantly, this series focuses on Cuban heritage and family, a racialized group that is routinely ignored by entertainment platforms. The show proved to be much more than a simple family sitcom. It made audiences feel seen, loved, and admired. Essentially, it gave a voice to the voiceless and provided a foundation for stories that are constantly overlooked.

Image via ET

Its cancellation only further expands the neglect that entertainment platforms establish upon stories of diversity and inclusivity. Netflix claims that the reasoning behind the cancellation was due to a lack of viewers. However, it is critical to note that no advertising or promotion was established for the series upon the premiere of the new (and ultimately last) season. Yet the company continues to renew and promote shows that have proven to be controversial and socially misguided (aka 13 Reasons Why) and spend millions of dollars on shows–like Friends–that don’t even minimally compare in terms of content, viewership, and cultural inclusivity.

Given that One Day at a Time was a series that was loved and admired by audiences worldwide, we can only hope that a network will be willing to pick up the show and save it from completely leaving our televisions and our lives. Regardless of whether or not the series gets picked up, it’s time for the entertainment industry to think critically about the decisions they make when ridding the world of stories that are socially significant, especially to racialized communities that find themselves constantly neglected and overlooked.