'One Day At A Time' Is Making An Animated Episode During The Coronavirus Shutdown

One Day at a Time has managed to survive cancellation and network changes, with the beloved sitcom getting saved by Pop TV after getting dropped by Netflix. But even the acclaimed reimagining of Norman Lear's classic sitcom couldn't avoid the industry-wide production shutdowns amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Like all other live-action Hollywood productions, filming on the current fourth season of One Day at a Time was suspended in mid-March. But the ever-resilient family comedy is coming back for a special episode during the shutdown — as an animated episode.

Deadline reports that One Day at a Time is developing a special animated episode during the coronavirus shutdown that will air this spring. The idea came from One Day at a Time executive producer/co-showrunner Gloria Calderón Kellett, whose husband is a cartoonist, and fellow executive producer/co-showrunner Mike Royce. The two pitched the idea of a special one-off animated episode to One Day at a Time's producing studio Sony Pictures TV, and got the green light.

The episode will center around the visit of Penelope's conservative family. In the episode, "Penelope dreads that with the election coming up, they won't be able to avoid fighting over politics. The Alvarez family spends the episode discussing strategies of how to get through it, illustrated through fantasy sequences," according to Deadline. The cast will all voice their characters and be joined by celebrity guests. Jonas Diamond, Executive Producer and Co-Owner of Smiley Guy Studios in Toronto, will be overseeing the animation.

The episode was always intended to be a special episode about the election, but the original idea was to produce it live-action with "fantasy elements" created by VFX. When the pandemic shut down TV and film productions across the world, the creators decided to make it a fully animated episode that was not part of the arc of the season.

"In my 97 years, I've never known of a multicam comedy to animate a single episode as a special. Even this I get to experience," said ODAAT executive producer Norman Lear.

However, the concept is not entirely new to Sony TV. The company also produced the Dan Harmon single-camera comedy Community, which also did an animated episode in the vein of the show's meta-pop culture themes. However, there's nothing narratively that lends to One Day at a Time, a traditional family sitcom about the Cuban-American Alvarez family, doing an animated episode. But it is a clever way of going around coronavirus-required shutdown aside from making a virtually-filmed screenlife episode like CBS' All Rise. Animation is the one industry that is still running smoothly during the pandemic, as most of its processes can be put together from home.

The mid-season finale of One Day At a Time, which was the last episode filmed before the production shutdown, airs March 28, on Pop TV and will simulcast on TV Land. The animated episode will air on April 14.