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Series / One Day at a Time (1975)

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One Day at a Time is a classic sitcom that ran on CBS from 1975 to 1984.

The show centers around Ann Romano (Bonnie Franklin), who moves to Indianapolis to begin life anew after a rocky divorce along with her teenaged daughters Julie (Mackenzie Phillips) and Barbara (Valerie Bertinelli), and the trials they face adjusting to new life. Oh, and their Casanova Wannabe super named Schneider (Pat Harrington Jr.) joins in the wacky adventures.

One of the many hit sitcoms developed by producer Norman Lear in the '70s, the show is probably best remembered nowadays for its theme song, a preponderance of Very Special Episodes, and the offscreen travails of Mackenzie Phillips.

A remake of the series debuted in 2017 on Netflix.


This series has examples of:

  • Almighty Janitor: Dwayne Schneider, the apartments' friendly superintendent who offers unsolicited advice, and acts as a second fatherly figure to Julie and Barbara.
  • Amicably Divorced: Ann and her ex for the most part.
  • And Starring: The opening credits featured "and Valerie Bertinelli" from season 5 on (with "as Barbara Cooper/Royer" added on starting with season 6). But fan favorite Pat Harrington Jr. (already "as [Dwayne] Schneider" back in season 1) also needed prominence, and when they added big-name new regular Howard Hesseman he needed to be featured too. So the season 9 credits ended up as "STARRING [all caps] Bonnie Franklin; Howard Hesseman; starring [lowercase] Pat Harrington Jr. as Schneider; Boyd Gaines; Mackenzie Phillips [temporarily]; Michael Lembeck; Nanette Fabray; and starring Valerie Bertinelli as Barbara Royer."
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  • Automobile Opening: The title sequence (starting with the third season) opens with a sweep over rush hour in downtown Indianapolis.
  • Berserk Button: Schneider does not like his middle name being mentioned.
  • Big "OMG!": Ann Romano turns it into a Catch Phrase. She didn't say it loud, but she did draw it out: "Ohhhh, myyyy goooood..."
  • Bratty Teen Age Daughter: Julie, whose antics were matched by Mackenzie Phillips' offscreen behaviour.
  • Calling Parents by Their Name: In an episode where Barbara is going to a local college, Ann surprises Barbara by signing up for the same class. When Barbara sees her, she calls her "Ann" instead of Mom and pretends they just know each other from school rather than let everyone else in class know that she's her mother. (It helps that, due to the divorce, they have different last names.) Ann reluctantly goes along with it.
  • Casanova Wannabe:
    • Schneider.
    • The 1980 episode "Endless Elliot" sees Barbara harassed by a fellow high school student. Watching the episode today, it's a reflection of how times have changed; these days, he'd be charged with stalking and given a restraining order, but in the late 1970s and early 1980s (long before awareness of stalking was even a thought), the girls and Schneider merely come up with a Zany Scheme to get him to go away.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Schneider.
  • The Couch
  • Cousin Oliver: Alex, when Barbara grew up.
  • Credits Montage: After the show had been running long enough that the original moving-to-Indianapolis opening no longer fit, the show switched to a title sequence featuring clips from earlier episodes.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Barbara.
  • Drop-In Landlord: As the super, Schneider could, and did, let himself in and hit on Ann any time he felt like it. After a couple of seasons, the ladies started taking this in stride, because Schneider was all talk.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Dwayne Florenz Schneider.
  • Fiery Red Head: Ann.
  • Funny Answering Machine: The family is going away for a Christmas vacation so they borrow an answering machine for the duration. The girls decide to record their greeting to the tune of "Silent Night":
    Leave your number when you hear the bee-ee-eep
    U-unless you are a creep
  • Handyman: Schneider, who behind his Casanova Wannabe exterior is a good friend to Ann and her daughters.
  • Hey, Let's Put on a Show: The first time it was to save their building; later they put on a show as a charitable gesture meant to entertain the people at the local Senior Citizens' center every New Year's Eve.
  • I Ate WHAT?!: Ann is mixing a bowl of what looks like cake batter. Barbara enters the kitchen, dips her finger in the bowl, and takes a taste. Finding what she ate delicious, she asks Ann what's in the bowl. Ann's reply: "A facial."
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: The Season 3 episode "Barbara's Friend" is about a classmate of Barbara's who is desperate to make friends and makes her her mark. When an exasperated Barbara tells her to go away and leave her alone, she attempts suicide.
  • Long-Runner Cast Turnover: This series is infamous for the many main cast members and characters coming into and out of the Romano household; almost all of them several episodes into a season.
  • Multi-Part Episode: The show practically lived on this trope, to the point where single-part episodes began to feel rare.
  • No Indoor Voice: Ann in particular, but everyone else too. This has to be one of the loudest sitcoms ever.
  • Odd Name Out: In "Ave Romano", when announcing to Max, Barbara and Mark that a man claiming to be a relative of her late husband Michael is coming to visit, Grandma Romano notes that Michael had three brothers, Arturo, Fabrizio... and Bob. Max indirectly lampshades this when iterating all three names.
  • Panty Shot: The cast puts on a show for some folks at a senior citizens home. Ann, dressed in a little girl's outfit, lifts the back of her dress and shows off frilly-seated panties after she finishes her number.
  • Poorly Disguised Pilot: The very last episode, in which Schneider moves into a boarding house full of wildly eccentric tenants. Schneider and Barbara are the only series regulars who appear.
  • Put on a Bus: David Kane, who moves to Los Angeles in Season 2.
    • The Bus Came Back with David Kane in "Indianapolis Story" at the end of Season 5, when he stops by Ann's apartment, stays for the night, and fakes a sprained ankle while waiting for an outgoing flight to New York.
  • Reunion Show: In February 2005.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Julie is bratty and rebellious; Barbara is sweet and obedient.
  • Snowed-In: A Christmas Episode has Ann and the girls getting snowed in at a mountain cabin with no heat.
  • Standardized Sitcom Housing: The Romano apartment.
  • Thematic Theme Tune: "This Is It", composed by veteran Brill Building songwriter Jeff Barry and his wife Nancy.
  • Title Theme Tune
  • The Unfavorite: The girls' father when drunk tells them openly that Barbara has always been his favorite. Angst ensues.
  • To Be Continued: As a series with numerous two-parters, this pretty much became a show motto.
  • Visit by Divorced Dad
  • Why Waste a Wedding?: Julie ends up marrying the best man.


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