Now all we’ve got to do is get through Season 5, set to debut in January 2020. Three-time Emmy winner, Gloria Calderon Kellett, who co-created the show with Mike Royce, shared how they brought the second-season finale to a happy ending, how Norma was never really done with her family and why they haven’t considered bringing back Mayela from Season 1.
Why did you come up with the idea for One Day at a Time?
I was working on another project, so I was driving down the highway, and I saw a grocery store with all the fruits and vegetables and meats. I was thinking, there has to be a sitcom where a Cuban lady grows up, and she winds up living in this house, and her kids in this house, and she’s working in this house. I felt very drawn to the stories I was hearing about families as different as this.
What was it like creating that first season?
It was very exciting. When we started, we had just finished the movie Chelsea Walls. Mike and I were hanging out, and this very charming man came up to us and said, “You know, I heard you were looking for a new idea. Can I help you find one?” It turned out to be the pilot for One Day at a Time. We just loved the show. We loved that this female family was able to see past stereotypes and live a very normal, joyful life.
When the show was on the air, were you worried about TV’s reaction to this particular show?
For a while, there was a little bit of criticism. We were coming off a show like The Big Bang Theory, and we knew that an audience and a medium that valued, I think, slapstick comedy was gonna really appreciate our show. But critics and an audience that valued a certain thing like positive family television and something that had substance in it was gonna catch it a little bit. We certainly felt very good about the show at first, but not as great as we thought it would be. We continued to really keep an eye on the show. And once we brought back Justina Machado as Mayela and Rita Moreno as Lydia, I think the numbers got better every season. And when a show is a second half-hour sitcom like this, you try to work things out so it will run as a long-running show. In that first season, we did just a shortened number of episodes, and that gave us the opportunity to fix stuff if we felt things were falling apart in the show.