When “One Day at a Time” started its run on CBS in December 1975, it became an instant hit and remained so for almost a decade.
In its first year, “One Day at a Time,” a sitcom about working-class families produced by the TV impresario Norman Lear, regularly attracted 17 million viewers every week, according to Nielsen. Mr. Lear’s other comedies were even bigger hits: One out of every three households with a television watched “All in the Family,” for instance.
Last week, a new version of “One Day at a Time” started on Netflix. Critics praised the remake for its explorations of single parenthood and class struggle, a theme that has faded from TV since Mr. Lear’s heyday.
Yet, well intentioned and charming as the new streaming version may be, there’s a crucial aspect of the old “One Day at a Time” that it will almost certainly fail to replicate: broad cultural reach.
The two versions of “One Day at a Time” are noteworthy bookends in the history of television, and, by extension, the history of mass culture in America. The shows are separated by 40 years of technological advances — a progression from the over-the-air broadcast era in which Mr. Lear made it big, to the cable age of MTV and CNN and HBO, to, finally, the modern era of streaming services like Netflix. Each new technology allowed a leap forward in choice, flexibility and quality; the “Golden Age of TV” offers so much choice that some critics wonder if it’s become overwhelming.
It’s not just TV, either. Across the entertainment business, from music to movies to video games, technology has flooded us with a profusion of cultural choice.
More good stuff to watch and listen to isn’t bad. But the new “One Day at a Time” offers a chance to reflect on what we have lost in embracing tech-abetted abundance. Last year’s presidential election and its aftermath were dominated by discussions of echo chambers and polarization; as I’ve argued before, we’re all splitting into our own self-constructed bubbles of reality.
Read more at The New York Times.