“One Day at a Time”

This is it. This is it.

This is life, the one you get

So go and have a ball.

 

This is it. This is it

Straight ahead and rest assured

You can't be sure at all.




So while you're here enjoy the view

Keep on doing what you do

So hold on tight we'll muddle through

One day at a time, One day at a time.

For years and years and years it seemed as if all of the creativity we’ve viewed came from the movie industry. Movies were where you went to see something new and vital and challenging and television is where you went to see performers and writers and ideas that weren’t good enough for the movies.

Over the last decade that has changed. While The Curmudgeon doesn’t consume a whole lot of either television or movies, it’s clear that television is in the midst of a golden age – he’s seen it described as a “platinum age” because “golden age” is often a term used to refer to the days of Milton Berle and Sid Caesar – while movies are sadly atrophying. While television tries new ideas with things like Orange is the New Black, The Wire, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, The Man in the High Castle, and many others, movies seem stuck in a rather pathetic cycle of remakes, over-reliance on special effects, searching for and then milking “franchises” for whatever they’re worth, and cannibalizing the creativity of others, such as by turning bad comic books into worse movies.

one-day-oldThat’s why The Curmudgeon was so surprised to read recently that Netflix has remade the 1970s/1980s television series One Day at a Time.

To which his initial reaction was “Huh”?

Still, he remembers liking the original One Day at a Time so, now living in a household that functions in the 21st century and actually gets Netflix and other cable networks, he and his much better half sat down to give the new One Day at a Time a try.

one-day-newIt was just awful. He cringed for the first time in the very first minute and often thereafter. The show has been updated and refreshed in a few ways: the family is Cuban, it has a daughter and a son instead of two daughters, the mother is a veteran, the grandmother (played in an over-the-top, painful-to-watch way by Rita Moreno) appears to live with the family, and Schneider seems almost like a member of the family, a status he needed years to attain in the original.

Comedies are supposed to be funny, and this one so…wasn’t. One Day at a Time also had a message, but in this version the lead character spoke several times about the challenges of being a single mother. In the original, Ms. Romano didn’t talk about it: she lived it and modeled it every week. On this version they hit you over the head with it – constantly.

The day after viewing it The Curmudgeon spent some time with his sister and mentioned it to her, knowing that she, too, was a fan of the original. The Curmudgeonly Sister can be pretty perceptive, and she was on this occasion, observing that when One Day at a Time first aired in 1975 it showed us something we hadn’t seen before: a single woman, single of her own choosing, struggling to raise her children. But now it’s 2017 and we’ve seen this before, many times, so there’s just no point to remaking this particular show.

And she was right, of course. There’s absolutely no reason to remake One Day at a Time, no new ground to break. The folks at Netflix have been pretty adventurous about trying new ideas and doing them in new ways, so you have to wonder: is this what happens when a business becomes successful? Does it forget what made it successful in the first place and start going for safe instead, like Netflix’s remake, also unnecessary, of the series Full House?

Let’s hope that history won’t show that Netflix’s production of series like Fuller House and One Day at a Time marked the beginning of the end of television’s platinum age.

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