TV

9 Life Lessons Learned on 'One Day at a Time'

by Tamara Palmer 10:05 AM PST, January 06, 2017
Photo: CBS

An American television classic is about to get a fresh remix for a new generation. 

One Day at a Time, the groundbreaking Norman Lear sitcom about a divorced mother of two, is being rebooted for Netflix, with season one premiering on Jan. 6. The show, which originally ran for nine seasons between 1975 and 1984 with stars Bonnie Franklin, Mackenzie Phillips, Valerie Bertinelli and Pat Harrington Jr., is now set in Los Angeles with Justina Machado and Rita Moreno as the matriarchs of a three-generation Cuban-American family.

MORE: 'One Day at a Time ' Star Pat Harrington Jr. Dead at 86

If the original’s bold storylines are any indication, the reboot of One Day at a Time will also give a current voice to countless struggling and striving families around the country and offer laughter through tears and tough times. Meanwhile, the most important life lessons learned from the original series still endure:

1. A great song is a timeless treasure.

Songwriter Jeff Barry penned the catchy One Day at a Time theme song “This Is It” in 1975. Originally performed by Polly Cutter and now expertly updated by Gloria Estefan, it features such wise lines as “This is it, this is life, the one you get, so go and have a ball … straight ahead and rest assured, you can’t be sure at all.” It’s still awesome advice.

2. Activism begins at home.

Single mother Ann Romano (played by Franklin, who passed away in 2013) receives an insanely high phone bill -- seriously, imagine $4,000 in mid-’70s money -- and starts writing City Hall and even the president to complain. When the Secret Service actually show up at her apartment door, it’s an amazing if exaggerated example of what kind of change voicing an injustice can have.

3. A teenager won’t always choose to have sex.

When Julie (Phillips) is pressured by her hunky boyfriend to go all the way, she ultimately decides that she’s not ready and tells Ann, “Tonight, I found out what being a woman really means,” which briefly scares the crap out of her mom until she says that she didn’t actually do it.

4. Jumping into a new marriage right after a divorce probably isn’t the best idea.

Soon after Ann divorces her husband and moves her teenage daughters Julie and Barbara (Bertinelli) into an apartment in Indianapolis, she rebounds into a new relationship with her younger lawyer David Kane (Richard Masur). When David pressures her to move to California and have more kids in season 2, she breaks up with him, bravely admitting to David (and herself) that she just replaced her ex with him and that they both deserve more. She knows she made the right decision but says, “I love you David, I’m scared,” right after he leaves.

5. Suicidal threats should always be taken seriously.

Melanie, a clingy new girl in Barbara’s class, won’t leave her alone -- that is, until a misunderstanding with Barbara and a boy over a date to a Grateful Dead concert drives her to take a handful of pills and overdose in a motel room. Barbara and her family rush to the hospital to learn that while the girl will be physically okay, her mother’s denial of her psychological state could have grave future consequences.

6. Ageism has been around for eons.

When an elderly neighbor is threatened with eviction, he makes hostages out of the family and their irrepressible apartment building super Dwayne Schneider (Harrington) and calls in a TV crew to broadcast his thoughts on how older people should be treated with more dignity and respect. 

7. Many chronic illnesses are hidden and misunderstood.

After Ann hires one of Julie’s classmates, Leslie, for a secretarial position, Barbara tells her mom that she has heard that Leslie is a druggie. It’s a suspicion that seems to be confirmed when Ann finds her dazed and confused in the office, but Julie later confides that Leslie has epilepsy and probably had a seizure, but is so ashamed that she would rather people think that she’s simply on drugs.

8. Women get heart attacks, too.

While it’s no secret that Ann can get easily stressed out, no one expects her to have a heart attack -- and when she does, it’s a wakeup call for mothers everywhere.

9. Surrogacy isn’t just for the ladies.

Goofy Schneider fancies himself a roguish gentleman who is good with the ladies, but he’s still taken aback when some of the building’s former tenants want his help to conceive a baby through artificial insemination. The OG One Day at a Time never strayed from controversial topical headlines, serving up plenty of drama with the laughs.

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