I’ve been without cable for a few years now. I only pick up about five channels on my antenna, and two of those channels are the nostalgia networks MeTV and Antenna TV, which serve as a sort-of Nick-at-Nite substitute now that Nickelodeon’s idea of “retro” is Full House and The George Lopez Show. Seriously?!? Give me Barney Miller and The Carol Burnett Show any day of the week over that horse shit.
So I’ve been watching a lot of nostalgia television lately, which isn’t such a bad thing– there’s just something about old TV shows (the good ones, anyways) that can’t be matched by today’s programming… there are certain intangibles that even the best shows of today can’t quite touch. Nostalgia is one of those intangibles, and my brain’s hippocampus was recently kicked into overdrive when I caught the catchy theme song for a show I had completely forgotten about: One Day at a Time.
“This Is It” – the show’s opening credits
One Day at a Time was the brainchild of television super-producer Norman Lear (All In The Family, Sanford and Son, The Jeffersons, Maude, Good Times, etc.) and this program toed the typical Norman Lear line as a progressive sitcom unafraid to tackle serious social issues of the day. Airing from 1975-1984, the show followed the trials and tribulations of recent divorcee Ann Romano (Bonnie Franklin) as she re-discovered her identity as both a woman and an individual while single-handedly raising two teenage daughters who looked nothing like her: Julie Cooper (Mackenzie Phillips) and Barbara Cooper (Valerie Bertinelli). Well, maybe she didn’t raise the kids “single-handedly,” as the sleazy yet endearing building Super, Dwayne Schneider (Pat Harrington), took on the role of protective father figure in the absence of the girls’ actual father. Of course, hijinks ensued.
Seriously… do these people look even remotely related?
I have it on good authority from both of my parents that One Day at a Time was the first television show I truly enjoyed watching because I was apparently in love with Valerie Bertinelli. When I was a toddler, I could be throwing a fit or crying my eyes out for whatever reason, but as soon as Valerie Bertinelli showed up on screen, I was soothed. Beauty truly tamed the beast, and I would immediately silence myself and reach out to the TV screen, mesmerized by Valerie’s very Bertinelli-ness. I had quite the taste in ladies when I was two-years-old, and I wasn’t alone, either, as rock legend Eddie Van Halen saw the same thing I did and MARRIED Ms. Bertinelli when she was only twenty years old. TWENTY YEARS OLD!!! Yikes.
My first crush: Miss Valerie Bertinelli
The premise of tonight’s episode was the 36th birthday of mother Ann Romano, who finds herself coming to terms with the notion of being “middle-aged.” Barbara is of course of no help whatsoever to her mother when she tries to reassure her with the statistic that the average life expectancy nowadays is 72 (you can watch the expression on Barbara’s face change as she does the math and realizes her mistake). As I’m watching this particular episode, I can’t help but focus on the fact that I myself am older than Ann was in the show. So if SHE feels old, well, how in the hell am I supposed to feel? At least Ann has a family to show for her 36 years. I have exactly diddly squat.
the fam’ learning a valuable life lesson, no doubt
But I know I shouldn’t get discouraged. Rather, I should listen to the lyrics of the show’s theme song:
So up on your feet– somewhere there’s music playing.
Don’t you worry none, we’ll just take it like it comes,
one day at a time.
This is it. So straight ahead, and rest assured, you can’t be sure at all.