Like many, I am devastated over Netflix’s recent cancellation of brilliant dark comedy Santa Clarita Diet. Starring Timothy Olyphant and Drew Barrymore, SCD is but one of a long line of Netflix originals cancelled in spite of critical acclaim. Santa Clarita Diet’s third season received rave reviews, scoring 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. American Vandal was Netflix’s most-viewed content of 2017. However, Netflix’s most notable cancellation this year was family sitcom One Day At A Time.
Netflix’s March announcement that they would not renew One Day At A Time struck a major cord amongst fans. Before long, #SaveODAAT was trending on Twitter, with celebrities like Lin-Manuel Miranda joining the crusade. I’m embarrassed to admit that prior to this, I had honestly never heard of the show, never seen a single promotional post. Curious, I decided to give it a go. Two minutes in, I was stunned to learn that not only did ODAAT take place in Echo Park, the Los Angeles neighborhood in which I currently reside, but literally ON MY BLOCK. All the shots in the theme song were of buildings I could see from my bedroom window.
Personal overtures aside, One Day At A Time was without faults. The show follows the family of Penelope Alvarez, a recently divorced army veteran and mother of two, coping with the trials and tribulations of what it means to be a Hispanic family in the Trump era. Right away, that’s something worth talking about: how often do we see female army veterans on tv, let alone a woman of color? Penelope’s mother, played by the iconic Rita Moreno, steals every scene she’s in. Her daughter, Elena, comes out as a lesbian and is the embodiment of the 21st-century feminist. The show openly confronts relevant issues, such as PTSD among veterans, Trump-era racism, and gentrification, all while managing to be laugh-out-loud hilarious. It’s warm, it’s genuine, and it couldn’t be more culturally relevant. Why, then, had I never heard of it? Why hadn’t Netflix done literally anything to promote it?
The streaming giant recently made headlines by coughing up a cool $100 million to keep Friends available on their site. The answer seems obvious: viewers stream the beloved old relic the most, but there are a million places to watch Friends, it’s not as though Netflix has a monopoly. The show’s been over for 15 years. Turn on any basic cable channel and I guarantee you’ll find a rerun within minutes. Go to any friend’s house and there’s a decent chance their mom has a boxed DVD set stashed away somewhere with Jennifer Aniston’s face beaming on the cover.
If it’s really about viewing numbers, why doesn’t Netflix put more money and effort into promoting the content they actually create, rather than resurrect a sitcom that’s quite literally as old as I am?
Moreover, Netflix now seems to value quantity over quality. One quick scroll through the “Netflix Originals” tab reveals a hundred shows I’ve never seen, or even heard of. Quicksand… Lucifer… Black Summer… where did all these come from? How many get lost in the growing quagmire of short-lived original content?
Netflix has become a deadbeat parent to its own shows: mindlessly popping them out, only to totally neglect their existence once they’ve arrived.
I don’t pretend to know anything about business, but wouldn’t it make more sense to have fewer shows whose quality can be readily attended to, to ensure the maximum amount of followers and attention? The likes of Santa Clarita Diet and One Day At A Time could have been cultural phenomenons if Netflix had spent a fraction of a second promoting them.
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