An Open Letter to Netflix
This critically acclaimed show serves as a guiding light—the true north in and for an industry grappling with issues of diversity, equity, and inclusivity. Out of the mere 22 Latinx shows that have been picked up to series since 2000, “One Day at a Time” is by far the best received based on available Rotten Tomatoes scores. Humorous and smart at its core, audiences connect with the authenticity of Penelope (played by award-winning actress Justina Machado), an Army veteran and newly single mother of two. Unique to the 21st century reboot, however, is the intergenerational Latinx lens through which audiences view the show. Some of the issues the Cuban-American Alvarez family confronts are indeed unique to their heritage, race, and the current political climate, but others such as Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) are relatable to growing populations, and many are universal-fiercely familiar to all.
The resounding success of this show —in the media, by Hispanic and Latino communities, and in the mainstream— is due to the authentic representation of Latinos on screen. This result cannot be manufactured and is a direct correlation of what’s happening behind the scenes. With a writing staff that is half female and half Latinx, “One Day at a Time” showrunners Gloria Calderon Kellett and Mike Royce have created a team that is truly representative. A feat otherwise unheard of in Hollywood.
At 57.5 million, Hispanics and Latinos make up 17.8 percent of the nation’s total population and are the second-largest racial or ethnic group behind white Americans, but are grossly under-represented in television and film. Currently, Latinos hold only 5.8 percent of speaking roles.
Representation behind the camera and on screen is not simply a moral responsibility-it affects the bottom line as well. Latinos are 72 percent more likely to stream video than any other group. A recent UCLA Hollywood Diversity Report found that Latino households enjoy watching shows with minority ensemble casts and average television ratings, and global box office results are highest for TV shows and films with relatively diverse casts. Youth, in particular, are more likely than most millennials to consider their cultural heritage as an influence on their decisions of what television shows to watch.
By 2050, Hispanics and Latinos are projected to account for over 30 percent of the U.S. population—a significant growth driver that marketers can no longer overlook.
From the writers’ room, through to the cast and the crew, “One Day at a Time” has set the gold standard for equitable and positive representation. But it is high time that Latinos are represented equitably and positively throughout the television industry. While writers, directors, and producers like Kellett and Royce are doing their part to tip the scales, we need Netflix’s continued support of shows that Hispanic and Latino communities embrace.
Through “One Day at a Time”, Netflix is not only proactively shifting the public narrative of Latino Americans, but simultaneously setting the standard for positive and equitable representation of Latinos in television. That is why we request your continued support and urge you to renew “One Day at a Time” by moving forward with season three.
Centro Comunitario de Educación
Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute
Mexican American Women’s National Association (MANA, A National Latina Organization)
National Hispanic Leadership Agenda
National Hispanic Media Coalition
National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts