(CBS Local)- 45 years after Norman Lear’s original cast brought “One Day At A Time” to CBS, the show returns once more with a new cast and re-imagining of the story of multiple generations of a family all living under one roof. Starring Justina Machado, Rita Moreno, Isabella Gomez and Marcel Ruiz as the Alvarez family, the show tackles timely issues such as mental illness, immigration, sexism, homophobia and racism while making audiences laugh along the way.
The show, which aired its first three seasons on Netflix before being picked up by ViacomCBS earlier this year, premieres its fourth season on the network tonight with a doubleheader of episodes. In the first, “Checking Boxes” the show tackles the census with Ray Romano guest starring as a census taker who learns a lot more about the Alvarez family than he expected. In the second, “Penny Pinching”, Penelope (played by Machado), gets out of her comfort zone and buys something new.
As audiences prepare to see Season 4 of the show come to network television, CBS Local’s Ryan Mayer caught up with Moreno and Gomez to get their thoughts on what audiences can expect from the show.
RM: Rita, Isabella thank you for taking the time today. Season 4 coming up here on CBS and there’s potential for new fans to meet the Alvarez family and get to know them. What would you tell them to expect from this family?
Rita Moreno: Back-to-back episodes of One Day At A Time we’re bringing Norman Lear back to CBS! It’s like an anniversary. The first episode is so relevant you could just wet your pants. It’s about the census! Can you believe it? That’s the kind of writers we have, they are so up to now. It stars Ray Romano as the census taker. It has Gloria Estefan in it and she’s hilarious. You’re just going to laugh an awful lot. Hit it Isabel.
Isabella Gomez: We’re hoping that fans, like you said we’re going to get a whole new audience. But we’re also hoping our fans transfer over. And we’re also hoping that these new people get to see this family that is so diverse and has so many different opinions. It’s three generations, it’s so women led, it’s so much about women empowerment. But it’s also about all of these issues and topics that are current events that are currently affecting so many people in this country that people tend to shy away from and find taboo. We’re hoping to open up conversations while also making you pee your pants like Ms. Moreno said. (laughing).
RM: Isabella, I’ve read some of the things you’ve said about this character Elena and how you admire her resiliency and her determination. I wonder, as the audience tunes in here to see her journey in Season 4, what are some of the takeaways you want them to have as she continues to grow and learn?
Isabella Gomez: I want people to realize that a lot of the storylines around Elena are about her being LGBTQ and I just want more representation for that community that shows that they are full, layered humans. Their sexuality does not fully explain them and it’s not the only thing they identify as. I love that Elena is that. I love that she’s so layered and her sexuality is just one aspect of her. Hopefully that’s what people take away.
RM: Rita, for you, this is a show that takes on difficult topics, but it does so in a humorous way that provides you those laughs throughout….
Rita Moreno: What’s really special about One Day At A Time is that it takes on very difficult topics. One of which is coming up, about pleasuring yourself. I remember reading the script and going, ‘really? you can do this?’ But, what’s very special about this show is that it does that but it does so with such an enormous heart and such an enormous soul. Sometimes, I swear you could be choking on your laughter and you’re suddenly choking on tears. Because we have writers who are geniuses who can actually make that happen. I have to tell you, that’s very difficult. To be funny and then really, a second later say something that makes people laugh. That is skill. That is creative. And, we have all of that in spades. We are truly, truly, I mean we have trouble sometimes keeping a straight face. And we sometimes don’t talk about enough, we are extremely funny people. (laughing).
RM: You certainly are. And, this show also is about a Latinx family which is something we don’t see a lot on TV so Isabella for you, how much does that kind of representation really matter to have this show on network television?
Isabella Gomez: It means everything right now. Unfortunately we have gone through, well decades and decades, but especially the last few years where our community has been dragged through the mud. And, lies have been spread that have been really dangerous and have caused a lot of harm. So, to be able to get a Latinx family, which by the way we’re the only Latinx family on network this year which is incredibly unfortunate, it just means that we get to bring representation and hopefully gather enough of an audience that we can show the studio heads and we can show Hollywood that our stories not only matter but they are profitable and entertaining. And, that we are worth telling stories about.
Rita Moreno: In the final analysis, Norman Lear wanted to do a show that was universal. What is more universal than a family? Whether it is Cuban or Italian or Jewish, it’s still a family. It’s still a pain in the neck girl, sister who is a smartass. There’s the boy. There’s the grandmother who is all drama. There’s the woman who runs the family, Justina Machado, who is only brilliant and funny and breaks your heart. We have everything, everything you could want in a situation comedy. I don’t even like to call it a sitcom, it’s a situation comedy. It’s a great piece of life.
One Day At A Time premieres with back-to-back episodes tonight, Monday October 12 beginning at 9 p.m. Eastern Time on CBS.