Earlier this month, @netflix announced that they would not be renewing One Day At A Time for another season, which caused a lot of outrage amongst viewers, myself included. Here is their original post:
Celebrities like Jamie Clayton and Ashley Blaine expressed their dissatisfaction through emojis while others were a lot more vocal about what they were feeling.
The main issue here is that there is a disparity between Netflix’s stated reason for cancelling the show and why people believed the show was cancelled. Netflix cited low viewership as a reason, but people are outrightly blaming them for being racist and insensitive in light of all the predominantly white TV shows that have been running for more than many seasons.
This is likely why the post announcing the cancellation of ODAAT is the second most commented post on the Netflix Instagram account this year, only second to a post that was literally calling for comments.
Here we see a similar occurrence on the @odaatnetflix account: their announcement post is their top-liked and top-commented post of the year. People obviously have a lot to say.
Is ODAAT really doing that badly?
Not quite, actually. ODAAT has received a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 4.5/5 on Vox, while other reviewing sites including MetaCritic, OprahMag, and IndieWire have given them glowing reviews. The show is clever, sensitive, funny, and manages to touch on very relevant topics like feminism, LGBT issues, race, drugs, immigration, mental health and so much more with just the right balance of gravity and light-heartedness.
It is hard to tell what the viewership on ODAAT is like considering Netflix does not have to release this data. The only times we see Netflix talking about viewership statistics is when a show does unbelievably well: for example, Bird Box was streamed from 45 million accounts within its first week of release. But the sheer scale of outrage upon cancelling the TV show must give some sort of indication as to how many people have been watching, and are personally invested in the series at stake.
Additionally, the show did not cost a lot to produce. Netflix forked out 100 million dollars to retain the rights to F.R.I.E.N.D.S, and I imagine that ODAAT did not cost half as much. The set is simple — barely straying from the living room and Penelope’s office — and it is a one-camera job. It is also filmed in front of a live audience so multiple takes are not at the team’s disposal. Anyone want to take a guess at how much the show costs to produce?
While we don’t have access to exact statistics, you can’t blame people for wondering: if Netflix was willing to spend millions renewing ‘white people shows’ like F.R.I.E.N.D.S and Fuller House, why couldn’t they renew a low-budget minority show for what would have cost far less?
Not only did the show address important issues, it also put Latina woman forth in the spotlight. The show centres on 3 strong, remarkable women who, in any other circumstance, would have been relegated to subsidiary roles. Between 2015-16, Latina women only got 5% of all speaking roles in Television & Film. The women in ODAAT, on the other hand, are the literal backbones of the series.
All these seem like brilliant reasons to keep the show going. So why didn’t they?
Unfortunately, we don’t have an answer. But what we can share is the heartwarming outpour of hope and defense that amassed on social media when fans got wind of the fact that their beloved show was to be cancelled.
I ran the hashtags #renewODAAT and #saveODAAT through our platform to ascertain the scale of conversation that was generated in relation to the show and the news.
From this chart we can see that the conversation began at the end of February, perhaps when information of a potential cancel leaked and made its rounds on the internet. However, it was only after the official announcement by Netflix that these hashtags went viral on Instagram.
In the month of March alone, these hashtags have reached an audience of 23M people. While not all of them are necessarily dedicated viewers of the series, we can assume that the number of people who are outraged at the cancellation lies within that range. How is that insufficient to warrant a Season 4?
It is no secret that Netflix still struggles with a representation issue. Sure, we see the immigrants and the Blacks, the LGBT community and the drag queens, the East Asians and South Asians, but these are not the shows that are being displayed on the landing page, nor are they the ones that receive a lot of publicity. The only time we saw shows starring Black people in a near endless scroll on the website was during Black History Month. Once that was over, we were back to passively consuming television replete with racial and sexual majorities.
We don’t deny that shows like Fuller House, F.R.I.E.N.D.S, Modern Family and the like are funny and entertaining in their own right, but haven’t they been going on for far too long, couched in layers of privilege and nonchalance towards real world issues? We want intelligence and representation and we have it! So why are we bumping those down in favour of the norm?
I only just started watching One Day At A Time and already I’m in love. I’m sad to see it go, but hey, maybe it’s not too late to #saveODAAT.