As the Latinx community remains wildly underrepresented in media — making up only 8% of series regular and recurring roles in scripted television, according to GLAAD’s “Where We Are on TV” report for 2018-19 — one way that statistic is being boosted is by producers working with known IP.
As “One Day at a Time” co-creator Gloria Calderón Kellett puts it, “There’s so many shows out there that you need a little something extra to make people check you out — whether that’d be a movie star or an already existing IP that you’re going to put another spin on.”
The original “One Day at a Time,” which aired from 1975 to 1984, centered on a white single mother raising two daughters. However, the new version, which originated at Netflix but will continue on Pop TV, puts a Latina single mother who is raising two teenagers and living with her mother at the center of the story.
“One Day at a Time” is certainly not alone in utilizing a classic brand to shine a light on Latinx characters. In 2018, CBS ordered a new “Magnum P.I.” procedural with Jay Hernandez taking on the titular role, while the CW’s “Charmed” centers on a trio of witchy Latina sisters and its “Roswell, New Mexico” follows an undocumented Latina. Two upcoming shows are continuing the trend, too: reboots of ABC’s “Revenge” and Freeform’s “Party of Five.” The latter takes on the plight of family separation after the parents are deported to Mexico.
But while brand recognition can help cut through some of the clutter in an increasingly competitive television landscape, it doesn’t guarantee an audience.
“If it’s really just an expansion or a remake of what was done in the past without any real connection to the themes and the social relevance of today, I don’t think those get picked up or are things that will move forward,” says Jeff Frost, president of Sony Pictures Television Studios, which produces both “One Day at a Time” and “Party of Five.”
What makes the difference is having something unique to say. And that is often why bringing a new cultural perspective to a specific premise works so well.
“Is there a reason to retell the story now?” is something Amy Lippman, who co-created both the original and upcoming reboot of “Party of Five,” says should be an essential consideration for this kind of storytelling.
For Lippman, the reboot only works this way because of a timely take and organic ties to the original IP. “My intention was to look at something that was going on in the world and think, ‘Wow, that has a really interesting echo to a story I told 25 years ago about kids who are trying to raise themselves,’” she says. “That’s what’s happening in the world right now.”