On March 14, 2019 Netflix cancelled One Day at a Time, the beloved sitcom about a Cuban-American family in East LA acclaimed for addressing topics like LGBTQ identities, colorism and mental illness. Netflix’s Twitter announcement adopted a concerned voice that acknowledged and dismissed the show’s loving fans, who reacted to the news with a #SaveODAAT social media campaign. Fans and Latinx organizations had already taken action on 2018 to urge the company to renew the show. The cancellation of ODAAT sent a conflicting message about their commitment to Latinx stories. On February 28, Netflix released a promotional video (“Make Room”) celebrating diverse voices whose stories found room in the streaming platform.
Representing “Latinidad” is Mexican actress Yalitza Aparicio, the face of Netflix’s expensive award campaign for the film Roma (Alfonso Cuarón, 2018) and the second indigenous woman nominated for a Best Actress Oscar. Fan reaction in social media shows that Yalitza has been embraced by Latinx communities, especially after her trailblazing cover photo in Vogue Mexico went viral on mid-December 2018. For fans, Yalitza has become a symbol of indigenous pride whose beauty defies the Eurocentric ideals privileged in portrayals of Latinx in the media, including ODAAT and Netflix’s Mexican content. Yalitza’s fans in #CentralAmericanTwitter see her as someone who, like Central American migrants, has had to overcome the racism and colonial legacies in Mexican culture. Her star-making story also fits aspirational narratives.
The choice of Yalitza Aparicio for an English-language video that appeals to US identity politics is notable since she became famous through a predominantly Spanish-language Mexican “art house” film that Netflix did not produce. Imitating a scene from Roma, the video switches to black-and-white to show Yalitza dressed as Cleo, a domestic worker, laying down next to the glamorous Nigerian-American actress Uzo Aduba, touching hands in a gesture of solidarity. Latinx fans, however, have primarily celebrated the media images that show Yalitza Aparicio in color, thriving in photo spreads and red-carpet events, like Latinx undocuqueer artist Julio Salgado's homage, inspired by her fierce appearance on the Bad Hombre magazine cover. Will Netflix “make room” for stories featuring the image of Yalitza favored by fans? Netflix’s content, marketing and reaction to #SaveODAAT show the challenges of identifying and catering to the diverse fans brought together as/by Latinx identity. Interestingly, Netflix has been appealing to Spanish-language telenovela fandom, using the genre to portray diversity (Afro-Latinidad in Siempre Bruja) and to link their content to a Pan-American/Latinx melodramatic kinship (2019 Mother’s Day promo).