One Day at a Time executive producers reveal the stories you never got to see
One Day at a Time (2017)
The duo spoke to EW exclusively to give the series a proper send-off, by detailing what they had planned for the characters viewers fell in love with across four seasons. The Alvarez family may not have received more episodes to tell their honest and thought-provoking tales, but its legacy lives on as the Latinx series that wouldn't quit.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How are you doing after the cancellation of One Day at a Time?
GLORIA CALDERÒN KELLETT: We're doing ok. Mike and I talk almost every day. We've been processing this for a long time. Every year we wouldn't know our fate. In a way, as we called all the actors yesterday, we didn't need to say much because we've said it all before. Everyone already knew. Just know that not one moment on this show was taken for granted.
MIKE ROYCE: Our whole experience working on the show always felt like we were waiting for something. We've never been safe. Since we've always been waiting, now it sort of hits like we're not waiting for something anymore. Even though it was expected, you can never truly prepare for a moment like this.
Is it true that your original contract with Netflix is what prevented the show from moving ahead elsewhere?
GCC: Netflix has actually been incredibly generous by allowing us to shop it and go elsewhere. So, no. That's not accurate. That may have been the case a year ago but things have changed since then. Sony has done an incredible job in continuing to fight for us and leaving no stone unturned. What I would love to tell people is that millions of people watched One Day at a Time and we had a beautiful fanbase. Then there are people reaching out to me asking me if I can make a One Day at a Time, while one already exists! For whatever reason, it started to feel like there was baggage.
What did you have planned for the characters if the show had continued?
GCC: Generally speaking, the next episode after "Supermoon," which is now our series finale — a pretty lovely finale — was going to be about Lydia's (Rita Moreno) disillusion with the idea that Elena (Isabella Gomez) can't get married in a church. Wilson Cruz was going to play a hot priest in that one. I'm sad we were never able to shoot this one because it talks to a lot of Catholic families who have people they love from the LGBTQ community.
For Elena and Syd (Sheridan Pierce), there's somebody else Elena found cute and she was having a difficult time understanding what that meant for her relationship. We had some really great stuff around that but I can confirm they do stay together! Elena ends up getting into Yale but decides not to go. That was the big surprise, she goes but doesn't feel at home there the way that she'd hoped. So she ends up going to UCLA instead. With the money, she saves she buys a car and she opens up some resources for Papito, as well.
We also had an episode where they go on a road trip to Yale to check out it out for Elena. Schneider (Todd Grinnell) has an RV that's decorated inside just like the Alvarez house.
What was going to happen between Penelope (Justina Machado) and Max (Ed Quinn)?
GCC: That was somewhat resolved. They were going to have a modern relationship where he goes and they stay together. She has this partner who is not always there but they're committed and not in an open relationship. Work keeps him really busy and Penelope has her family and her new job.
Penelope has a lot going on, too. She was coming to terms with the fact that her daughter is leaving. That her parenting journey, though never truly over, the bulk of it [is concluding, in a way]. I think about this with my kids, we only have a certain amount of time with you to mold them. So we wanted to explore what Penelope was feeling, all those big maternal issues. That's why we worked out what her love life was going to be and working her dream job so she could face that her daughter was leaving and that she only has a few more years with her son.
Her and Schneider really bond at this point because he's just starting his journey as a parent.
Tell us about the Schneider baby!
GCC: The baby is born! Penelope delivers Schneider and Avery's (India de Beaufort) daughter who they named Penelope. This baby becomes everybody's baby. They don't get married, at least not as far as what we had planned for this season.
MR: We were going to address in the road trip episode is that Schneider is still newly sober again. You're not supposed to go into a lot of life-changing events that soon and he was already in a relationship when he shouldn't have been and got a woman pregnant! So he's focused on being a good father and the challenges he faces. When she's first born, he doesn't know what he's doing and he can't sleep because he's so obsessed with not screwing up fatherhood.
One wedding we did get to see was Nicole (Calderón Kellett) and Victor's (James Martinez). Where are they now?
GCC: We were talking at one point about her getting pregnant and how Papito was going to deal with not being the baby anymore.
What's going on with Papito?
GCC: He and Nora (Raquel Justice) were still together and he was going to be dealing with his feelings about Elena leaving and how things are going to change between them. There was this sweet moment we had between them about how happy is he she didn't end up leaving because he would miss her.
MR: There's also the fact that Nora is now the woman in his life but Lydia has always been the woman in his life. In the New Year's Eve episode, he wants to go on a date with his girlfriend which is complicated because his grandmother is used to spending it with him.
You guys teased Lydia's death before, were there ever plans to kill her off?
GCC: NO!! Why would we kill her? No way! She and Penelope live a long life together in that apartment.
MR: Rita would kill us before that would ever happen.
GCC: But I can say that her future with Berkowitz (Stephen Tobolowsky), they're friends forever.
MR: There's an episode we've been trying to do for four years which was the Cuban New Years' episode and that was going to be a big one for Lydia. She was going to kiss Berkowitz! She also kisses Snyder but still. She kisses everybody but it was still a win for Berkowitz.
We never got the Valerie Bertinelli episode. What did you have planned?
MR: We always wanted to have her on the show but it was just a scheduling issue. She wanted to be on it, too. We got to work with Mackenzie Phillips and Glenn Scarpelli from the original and that was such a dream because I got to collaborate with people I watched growing up. They were so gracious, too.
GCC: We tried to have Valerie in the episode we had Marla Gibbs on where she would've been a neighbor in the building where Syd and Elena were trick or treating. Then we were hoping to have her be one of the Yale alumni, as well.
Would either of you be interested in revisiting with the Alvarez family in the future?
GCC: I think it's too soon to ask that. I would say never say never but it's not on my mind right now. What's on my mind right now is the community of people we were privileged enough to work with on this show and how do I make more stuff with them in the future. But if in like 10 years someone wants us to do one about Papito's (Marcel Ortiz) wedding, then sure.
MR: Wait a minute, are you pitching Papito's Place? In the Norman Lear tradition, that's what comes next.
This interview was edited and condensed for length and clarity.
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