Last June, One Day at a Time made TV history when it became the first series to move from a streaming outlet—Netflix, where it ran for three seasons—to a linear network: Pop TV, which picked up the sitcom three months after Netflix had canceled it.
Tonight, the show—a Cuban-American reboot of Norman Lear’s 1975 sitcom, starring Justina Machado and Rita Moreno—will debut in its new linear home for Season 4. One Day at a Time’s season premiere will be simulcast on ViacomCBS sibling networks TV Land and Logo. As part of last year’s deal, the season will also air on CBS after its Pop run. (Only six of Season 4’s 13 episodes were filmed prior to production being shut down amid the spread of COVID-19, and plans for the season’s second half remain up in the air.)
Executive producers and co-showrunners Mike Royce and Gloria Calderón Kellett spoke with Adweek about One Day at a Time’s new lease on life, adjusting to an ad-supported network (bring on the brand partnerships, they say) and how long they want the series to continue.
(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)
It felt like every year, you were fighting publicly to save the show for another season. Were you surprised by Netflix’s decision to cancel it?
Royce: We were surprised because we never in our hearts thought it could happen. They did a little bit of a job laying some groundwork, which is part of the reason we were on social media, like, “Hey, everybody!” But we didn’t know. Mostly spiritually surprised.
You were always optimistic on Twitter about saving the show, but in your heart of hearts, did you really think you would find another home?
Calderón Kellett: There was something in me that maybe was denial, that I just thought, “It doesn’t feel done.” And that just could be, anybody thinks that at the end of their show when they’re not ready, when they didn’t want to end it that way. So there was a part of me that was always optimistic, but it did feel like our show was on life support and every day we were like, “Do we pull the plug? Is it done? Do we weep and say goodbye again?”
Royce: We don’t want to string people along, but it’s still technically possible [that the show could come back], so …
Calderón Kellett: But then we did get that call that it was maybe going to happen, and then looking more likely. It’s not like there was one call that was like, “It’s happening!”
Royce: There was a day where it just turned a corner from, “This is a long shot, but it’s still alive,” to “This shit might happen!” It wasn’t anything definite, but the tonnage started to be like, “Wait a minute, we’re not fooling ourselves? That’s insane!”
What’s it like to be on a network that is incredibly excited about having you and promoting your existence, and going from being a small fish in a huge pond to being a big fish in a very small pond?
Calderón Kellett: I feel like Netflix was like the cool guy, this cool senior that was dating me that when we’d be in public, wouldn’t tell his friends he was dating me. But when we were alone, was so awesome. And Pop feels like the junior that’s not as well-known and is in the band, but he’s fucking telling everybody that I am his woman!
Will you structure the season premiere to welcome new viewers to the show who hadn’t seen it on Netflix?
Calderón Kellett: Yes. There is a delightful device that, for anyone who’s not seen the first three seasons, they can jump on board.