Rita Moreno Says 'One Day At A Time' Isn't Topical, But Here's How It Still Tackles Real Issues
One Day At A Time (creator: Gloria Calderon Kellett) is the modern-day reboot of Norman Lear's series from the '70s and '80s, which originally broke ground by centering on a divorced mother of two. The Netflix reboot is about a second generation Cuban-American family living in Trump's America. That said, don't expect to hear many direct references to political figures, policies, or headlines on the Netflix series. In an interview with Bustle conducted in the fall of 2017, actor/legend Rita Moreno talked One Day At A Time Season 2 and how the show continues to be daring and emotionally affecting (as well as uproariously funny) without needed to get hyper-specific about the political climate.
"Unfortunately we can't be topical because we don't go on for like six months," Moreno says about the filming schedule. The fact that they film so far in advance means that by the time they would address the news of the day, it would be old news. That's especially true in 2018, where news items tend to fade quicker than ever. However, the show does still take place solidly in 2017. "In terms of the presidency," Moreno says, "[we] can refer to that, because that's gonna be around for a while, but [the writers] decided even not to do that. There are a couple of references. No names or anything."
According to Deadline, Kellett said at a Television Critics Association event that fans will see how the election affected the family in terms of demeanor in Season 2. Though, like, you know that social justice enthusiast Elena either attended a Women's March or had a lot of thoughts about the lack of intersectional feminism in the movement.
But, One Day At A Time (editor: Patricia Barnett) doesn't need to name drop Donald Trump or Paul Ryan in order to be "topical," so to speak. Season 1 hit a lot of hot button issues in 2017, and the fact that it premiered around the time of the inauguration meant that those issues — particularly those surrounding immigration — were especially prescient in viewers' minds.
"It's kind of marvelous the way [the show is] balanced with so much humor and so much pathos," says Moreno. She brings up Season 1, Episode 5 "Strays," in which the family discovers that Elena has been hiding her friend Carmen in her room because her parents were deported. "It was heartbreaking," says Moreno. Other episodes deal with Lydia's own journey as an immigrant in this country, as well as sexuality, veteran life, and mental health.
"One of my favorite [episodes] is the one about the Catholic church," Moreno says about "No Mass," claiming that it was one of Norman Lear's favorites as well. "When I read the script," she says, "I thought, 'My God, they're actually gonna do this? Does God exist or not?'" That's one of the great things about working with Netflix, she concludes. "You can do things like that. Your characters can take positions... It covers a lot of ground."
As for Season 2, "it's more of the same wonderful stuff," Moreno says. "You cry and you laugh and you laugh a lot and then you cry a little bit or you tear up."
In 2017, and continuing on to 2018, it has become difficult to look at the stories told on television and in film without considering their social and political significance — particularly when these stories reflect values that and groups of people who are not being respected by those in charge. One Day At A Time (second assistant director: Susie Balaban, Season 2) is not relevant by coincidence. It's a window into a family that may or may not be just like your own, dealing with issues that are unfortunately always topical — even if they aren't trending topics.