A television series with Latina’s in the main roles has stoked some strident controversy. The new Eva Longoria production, Devious Maids, written by Marc Cherry have inspired comments on HuffPost and Twitter ranging from “…a wasted opportunity…” to “sell-out,” and “haters.”
Chingaó, (‘damn it’) what a lot of ruido (noise). But, you know, it’s good ruido, healthy.
I have to admit, that when I first heard of the upcoming program (when ABC was considering it) I immediately thought of the late great Lupe Ontiveros who was often cast as a stereotypical maid, a lá Rosalita in Goonies. Second thought, this better not be another caricature of Latinas. Thirdly, when will film depict Latinas in roles that are multifaceted and realistic for most of us?
The answer to the third thought: we have to write our own stories and support making these films (like Bless Me Ultima, Cesar Chavez film, and others that were crowd funded).
But back to Devious Maids (DM). Tonight I found the pilot episode of DM on Lifetime On Demand channel-it debuts on June 23, 2013. I wanted to know what ‘side’ of the triangle I would be on: boycott, embrace, ignore.
Okay, only one way to decide. Watch the show and make up my own mind.
The five maids:
- Zoila (Judy Reyes-Scrubs) is a caring mother raising a teenaged daughter, (Edy Ganem) Valentina. They both work for Mrs. Delatour (Susan Lucci), who attempted suicide because her young pool boy amour wouldn’t introduce her to his friends because she’s “…over 40.” Her son, Remi Delatour, moves back in to help his mother. Valentina falls in love with him. “Rich boys don’t marry their maids,” Zoila says.
- Marisol (Anna Ortiz-Ugly Betty) “…doesn’t have an accent, she sounds like she went to college…has attitude,” whines the new trophy wife Mrs. Stafford. Marisol is assertive, pragmatic, and carries a secret.
- Carmen (Rosalyn Sanchez-Rush Hour 2) is a “…pretty girl with an agenda,” one titled, “I’m going to be a Superstar.” Confident, self-assured, a little manipulative, she works on staff for Alejandro, a famous Latino singer.
- Rosie (Dania Ramirez-Heroes) is a maid and a nanny. She cares for her boss’s baby while missing the young son she left behind in Mexico. She hires an immigration lawyer. Her phone call with her son is especially moving and well-acted.
So far, the women seem like chingona’s, in their workplace and in personality.
This is what I liked about Devious Maids (DM’s):
- The premier episode had an intriguing beginning (a murder) sets up the ‘whodunnit’ question. One of the DM’s will investigate the murder.
- The DM’s were varied, without falling back on stereotypical Latino cartoony characters. No Gloria Delgado-Pritchett (Sofia Vergara) accents.
- Issues of rich vs. poor, prejudice, class distinctions, immigration, sexism, infidelity (I could go on, this is just a taste) are presented.
- Their names are other than Maria or Lupe, and there are no exaggerated mannerisms for comic effect.
- There are some very funny scenes along with a couple of poignant moments.
To be fair, I didn’t like a few things either:
- The clothes the maids wear to clean house are ones I’d go out for coffee in: nice jeans, wedge sandals, blouse and cardigan.
- All of them are skinny, and under 40 (except for Judy Reyes, but she looks -40). Where are the curves?
- The maids look homogenous: morena, brunettes, petite. Where are the rubias, the Afro-Cubans, the indias?
- The maids employers are caricatures: rich, white, (except Alejandro), entitled.
- The glamor shots of the maids at the beginning of the show. It’s so 2005, as in Desperate Housewives, and its spawn, Real Housewives of Orange County, Beverly Hills…Do something fresh, get more creative.
I follow a few television series: The Big Bang Theory (I love nerds), Grey’s Anatomy, Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife, and Mad Men. They all peek into the lives of people very different from me and my upbringing, but I find their stories fascinating.
I can’t say I’ll be a follower of Devious Maids, I don’t know yet. From this first episode I can say that I’m interested in hearing the stories about the lives of these Latina characters. It will be an episode by episode kind of thing before I can say I’m a fan but I’ll be watching-at least the second episode.