“It’s a show about building bridges, really, in a time when we’re really building walls,” explains Gloria Calderon Kellett, the co-executive producer of Netflix’s “One Day at a Time.” The modern reimagining of Norman Lear‘s classic sitcom was cancelled earlier this year after its third season, triggering a massive social media outcry. In our recent interview (watch the exclusive video above), Kellett says that the audience reaction to its cancellation has sent a clear message: “I’ve seen through the outreach on Twitter what that type of storytelling has meant to the LGBTQ community, to the veteran community, to the Latinx community, and to communities of color period who are feeling themselves seen through the Alvarez family.
Kellett was the last person to join the creative team, a decision driven by the decision to put a Cuban-American family at the center of the show. Kellett reveals, “I think these three white guys [Lear and fellow executive producers Mike Royce and Brent Miller] sat in a room and said ‘if we’re going to do a Latino show, we better get somebody in here who can speak to that point-of-view.'”
The series, which regularly deals with serious issues like mental illness, sexual and gender identity, and addiction, walks a fine line between comedy and drama. Kellett says that the show’s multi-camera format helps the cast and crew work out the material, comparing it to workshopping a play. Kellett adds that filming the show in front of an audience helps in that regard. “The audience keeps you honest,” she explains. “It keeps us on our toes, and it makes sure that we are relevant in a way that when you’re shooting alone is just different.”
Besides serving as co-executive producer and showrunner, Kellett has also written and directed several episodes of the series. This year, she stepped in front of the camera to play Nicole, the new fiancee of Penelope’s (Justina Machado) ex-husband. The comedy of the situation lies in Nicole’s eerie resemblance to Penelope, which Kellett says led to her own father being confused. “It was hilarious,” Kellett exclaims. “It was just a comedy of errors– we had a ‘Noises Off’ scenario.”
Asked about the show’s future, Kellett acknowledges that the show’s future is still in limbo. But whatever the outcome, she hopes that the show gets some awards recognition, which Kellett acknowledges is difficult given the show’s earnestness amidst a “trend towards cynical, cool kinds of stuff.” She argues that such recognition would bring new eyes to this type of show. “It is vital,” she argues, “so that more shows like us can exist in the future.”
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