Last August, I wrote a post called Where Am I? An Ongoing Conversation on Representation to try and deconstruct the importance of the #RepresentationMatters and why I will never stop pushing for the impossible dream of seeing someone just like me on television or in film. I highlighted how frustrating it was to have to seemingly break myself into different identities just to feel like I can properly relate to anyone on a screen. One of the characters I listed was Elena Alvarez from the critically acclaimed show One Day At A Time. The show streaming giant, Netflix, decided to cancel 2 days ago because there weren’t enough people watching the show. I would call bullshit, but I am just too exhausted to do anything but feel sad and irrelevant.
It wasn’t just the lesbian Latinx teen who was everything I wish I could have been at that age. It wasn’t just the adorable queer couple who was just trying to figure themselves out, giving me hope for the multitude of queer kids out there who need Elena and Syd (Elena’s Syd-nificant Other) way more than I do. It was also the loud, proud Latinx family with the immigrant matriarch trying to live their version of the American dream. It was also the struggling mom with depression/anxiety and PSTD; a conversation that is so hard to have in any family, but for my personal experience, especially in the Latinx community. It was the little brother trying to find his place in the world with a big sister placing huge, almost impossible, expectations on his shoulders (Adiel, I love you and you know I’m still trying). The Alvarezes were a representation of the stories in my family. They were me. Where am I now?
I want to be mad. I want to rage. But all I can do is laugh at the familiar, bitter taste of disappointment. Of course the show was going to get canceled, that’s not at all surprising. My real surprise is that we were blessed with 3 seasons of a well-written story, an relatable story, that had the real conversations that everyone needed. Racism, classism, sexism, religion, homophobia, mental health, immigration, the list goes on.
One Day At A Time has a power behind it, a talent, that makes it shine brighter than the majority of shows Netflix is going to try and push at me. The bar is set really high, and the random new stories with an all-white, all-straight cast just isn’t going to cut it anymore. Although I doubt Netflix cares all that much, and really they showcased their indifference so well with this tweet:
“And to anyone who felt seen or represented — possibly for the first time — by ODAAT, please don’t take this as an indication your story is not important. The outpouring of love for this show is a firm reminder to us that we must continue finding ways to tell these stories.”
Whelp, I found that missing spark of anger. Hey Netflix? Are you kidding me? A show that for 3 seasons got high ratings on Rotten Tomatoes alone, with an enthusiastic and passionate fanbase was canceled by you because you claim that not enough people were watching. That tells me you don’t think my story is important. The outpouring of love came from US, not YOU. It must not have reminded you of anything because you CANCELED THE SHOW. You don’t care about our stories. We don’t need your false apologies, your indifferent play at pity. We need representation, which you took away. We need to not just be seen, but stay seen. That’s why representation matters.