Sep 30, 2020
“So much of what we do is to humanize the Latinx experience in America.”
When One Day At A Time migrates from Pop TV to CBS on Oct. 12, it will become the only primetime show on broadcast television starring a Latinx family.
For Justina Machado, who plays the PTSD-battling military veteran and single mom Penelope on the reboot of the Norman Lear classic, that gives the show a special responsibility.
“The importance is changing the narrative that’s been put out about Latinx people,” Machado told an audience of ViacomCBS employees in a virtual panel. “We’re doctors, we’re lawyers, we’re immigrants, we’re hard-working Americans. We’re American. And that’s why it’s important to be able to see yourself represented when you’re not just the maid, the gardener, or the nanny. When you’re actually a person.”
Machado joined the rest of the show’s cast and executive producers for the online event, which ViacomCBS’ Somos Latinx Employee Resource Group organized to kick off Hispanic Heritage Month. The wide-ranging discussion addressed One Day At A Time’s impact on broadening the Latinx story beyond persistent stereotypes, its unflinching approach to social issues, and its universal appeal—and how all of these things underscored Lear’s enormous legacy of creating inclusive mass entertainment.
“So much of what we do is to humanize the Latino experience in America,” said co-showrunner Gloria Calderón Kellett. “To be able to put forward our stories from us, about us behind and in front of the camera in a moment where there is a lot of misperception about the Latino community, rights the wrongs that I think we have seen on TV for too long. We are largely stuck, unfortunately even in the year 2020, in a sort of narco-novela narrative, where that’s the only chance that people get to see us.”
The stars chafe at the idea that the show’s appeal would be limited because the cast is predominantly Latinx.
“Sometimes when people say, ‘well is it a Latino show, because I don’t know if I can relate to that,’ it’s really interesting, because I grew up only watching white shows and I related to all of them, because we’re people. This is a show about family and about love,” said Machado. “We’ve been portrayed as something you don’t understand, and that’s why it was so important to do this show.”