Prolific producer Normal Lear, famous for sitcoms such as All in the Family and Good Times, treated television audiences to another gem in the 70s, about a divorced mother and her two teenaged daughters. Offering the same trademark blend of tackling serious topics, while always keeping the laughs coming, One Day at a Time endeared itself to the viewing public for nine seasons and remains a beloved series to this day.
The heroine of the piece was Ann Romano, who divorced her husband of 17 years and moved with her daughters to an Indianapolis apartment. Ann felt that she had spent most of her life revolving around male authority figures and longed to test her independence. The first step was to get a job as an account executive in an advertising firm and the next step was to court a beau, David.
Julie and Barbara were Ann’s two daughters, played by Mackenzie Phillips and Valerie Bertinelli, respectively. Julie was a wild child and though Barbara was younger, she was often the more mature one. The two girls traversed the tail end of adolescence and all its pitfalls. The series didn’t shy away from controversial issues like suicide, sexual harassment and birth control. The relationship between mother and daughters wasn’t always smooth and the three women often got into shouting matches. But mom yelled because she cared and the girls eventually realized it too.
Another regular (and thoroughly unforgettable) character was Schneider, the building’s superintendent, who frequently dropped in to see the girls and fix small things around the apartment. Schneider couldn’t imagine why Ann would want to be without a man around the house and usually made clumsy overtures to her in the form of painfully awkward double entendres.
As the two girls grew up, they got married and both of them (and their husbands) lived with Ann off and on. Julie, Mackenzie Phillips’s character, had to be written out of the show a couple of time due to the drug problems the actress was experiencing. At the end of the series, Ann gets hitched to daughter Barbara’s divorced father-in-law and the new couple moves to London to begin a new life.
The series was tremendously popular, consistently placing in the Top 10 or 20 according to Nielsen ratings. After its cancellation, One Day at a Time aired in reruns for three more years and then moved to syndication. In 2005, the cast reunited for an hour-long TV special to reminisce about the good old days.
Now, we’d love for you to do your own reminiscing. If you were a fan of One Day at a Time back in the day, share your memories of this endearing sitcom in our comments section.