One Day at a Time (ODAAT)
Welcome to the Hanspostcard TV Draft. I hope you will enjoy it! Today’s post was written by Paula at http://paulalight.com
Welcome back to Paula’s Power Pop reviews and a big thanks to Max for putting these rounds together. I am having fun revisiting shows from back when, and one of my favorite shows in high school was One Day at a Time (the original series, not the 2017 reboot). The premiere aired on December 16, 1975, and the show ran nine seasons until May 28, 1984. It actually surprised me to learn that it went on so long ~ I did not catch all the later episodes in the 1980s. ODAAT was hugely popular for years and had a sweet spot in the CBS Sunday night lineup.
The premise of the show is that Ann Romano (played by Bonnie Franklin, RIP) navigates her new life in Indianapolis as a single mom to two teen girls, Barbara Cooper (played by Valerie Bertinelli) and Julie (played by Mackenzie Phillips, who was fired twice and did not appear in later eps). Pat Harrington Jr. (RIP) had a key role as their building superintendent, Dwayne Schneider. Back in the 1970s, Schneider seemed funny to me, but now he seems more like a creepy stalker always hanging around the girls’ apartment. Many things have changed regarding my perspective of the show, including believing that it was the height of romance for Mark (Boyd Gaines) to kidnap Barbara and not let her out of his car on their disastrous first date. Situations like these seem romantic in fiction, when you know the cute guy is a “good guy,” and the couple will up together, but in real life this would be totally cringe if not outright criminal. Anyway, in the 1970s, I identified more with Julie and Barbara, depending on the episode, but now I would identify more with Ann.
The original series focused heavily on second-wave feminism, which occurred during the 1960s to the 1980s. This is when women had achieved basic rights (somewhat), but still had to deal with workplace sexism, relationship roles, sexuality, and gender-based family issues. The show is not heavy-handed about these topics and relies upon on humor to smooth things along. I would say the writing ended up being tame overall, not really tackling big issues in a bold way, unlike, for example, All in the Family (which I will also be reviewing). Ann, Julie, and Barbara engaged in traditional, monogamous relationships with men, including eventual marriages for all three. This is not a criticism, just an observation. I enjoyed the show very much, back in the day.
Some of my favorite eps involve Shelley Fabares, as scheming businesswoman Francine, and of course the eps with the wonderful Howard Hesseman who just passed this January (RIP). He played Mark’s father Sam and became Ann’s love interest/husband (awkward!). One of my favorite episodes overall was “Airport” (S7, E2), where Barbara, Schneider, and Alex (the son of Ann’s boyfriend Nick, played by Glenn Scarpelli and Ron Rifkin, respectively) are all stuck at the airport waiting for Ann, whose flight has been delayed. Each of the three meets someone who seems like a romantic possibility, but none of them work out, so it is much more realistic than most sitcom plotlines. As a sidenote, Nanette Fabray (RIP) plays Ann’s mother Katherine, and she is the aunt of the aforementioned Shelley Fabares. Originally, Nanette’s last name was also spelled “Fabares.”
Whitney Blake and Allan Manings, a husband and wife writing team, created the show, and Norman Lear developed it. Polly Cutler performed the theme song “This Is It,” which played in the opening and closing credits. Jeff and Nancy Barry wrote the song. Bonnie Franklin and Pat Harrington Jr. each won an Emmy in 1984 for their performance in ODAAT, and Alan Rafkin won an Emmy in 1982 for directing the episode titled “Barbara’s Crisis” (S7, E15). Pat also won a Golden Globe in 1981, and Valerie Bertinelli won two Golden Globes, in 1981 and 1982.
Paula Light is a poet, novelist, flash fiction fan, cupcake connoisseur, mom, grandma, cat mommy, etc. Her blog can be found at http://paulalight.com.