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One Day at a Time
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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that One Day at a Time (1975–1984) is a comedy that addresses the issues that were contemporary in its time, mainly relating to women and female adolescence. It's milder than some of today's TV sitcoms, but it's still a bit strong for younger viewers thanks to some mature themes including divorce, sex, virginity, birth control, drug use, and suicide, just to name a few. Whole-family watching can definitely open up doors for communicating about some of these issues with tweens and teens.
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What's the story?
Produced by groundbreaking producer Norman Lear, ONE DAY AT A TIME (1975–1984) is a classic comedy about a single mom raising her daughters during the height of the modern feminist movement. It stars Bonnie Franklin as Ann Romano, a recently divorced mom of two teenagers, Barbara and Julie Cooper (Mackenzie Phillips and Valerie Bertinelli, respectively). Now settled in Indianapolis, they live in an apartment managed by Dwayne Schneider (Pat Harrington), who enjoys helping them out when he can. Also offering her support is Jenny (Mary Louise Wilson), their next-door neighbor. From coping with financial woes to managing the struggles that come with raising young women, it offers a humorous look at what life is like for a modern, independent woman.
Is it any good?
The fun and engaging series deliberately mixes humor with conflicts that reflect the social changes initiated by the 1970s women's movement. This feminist undercurrent creates the foundation for stories that women -- especially single and divorced women -- can relate to, including reentering the work force, fighting for child support, and raising children alone. It also focuses on teen-oriented issues, including virginity, teen suicide, and drug use.
Despite the weighty subject matter, One Day at a Time maintains its comic edge with the help of traditional sitcom jokes and gags. Schneider’s distinct personality also creates lots of comic relief during the show’s more serious moments. Some of the goofier antics of Ann Romano's daughters, especially Julie, also lighten the mood. But it's the overall series' ability to address controversial topics head-on that makes it stand out among other TV comedies of its time.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the way TV reflects social issues. What does One Day at a Time and other classic shows tell us about what was going on in the world when they were originally on the air? Can we learn something about history and society from watching them? What about if the show were set in the past or the future?
What is the feminist, or women’s, movement? How does the media represent this movement in the United States? What are some of the stereotypes that exist about it and the people who participate(d) in it?
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