I just finished watching the pilot episode of the new Lifetime series, Devious Maids. There has been so much buzz about it, both good and bad that I wanted to judge for myself. I have nothing against Latina maids, I just feel we’ve seen that story/angle many, many times. Even so, I won’t let that stop me from watching a movie or show with that theme, I like to keep an open mind. One of my favorite movies is Spanglish – I loved the traditional mother-clashes-with-contemporary daughter relationship. I sobbed like a baby at that film because the foundation was about unconventional love. And Mi Vida Loca, yes, big fan because it was about friendship, and young women wanting to better themselves, despite so many obstacles.
A little background on my TV watching: I dig Shark Tank, The Apprentice, Project Runway, any design competition show. I also love New Girl, Nashville, The Middle, Modern Family, Mad Men…oh OK, I’ll admit I watch Teen Mom as well. I’m a TV junkie! Even more context:
I’ve been anxious to see Devious Maids because:
A. I loved Desperate Housewives (DM is written/created by DH Marc Cherry).
B. I’m a big fan of producer, activist and actress, Eva Longoria.
C. I’m excited to see such a powerhouse cast of Latina actresses on one of my favorite networks, Lifetime!
D. I love prime time melodrama as much as I love glitter.
E. This series is inspired by a Mexican novela, much like Ugly Betty was, and I loved that show!
Basically, I’m easy to win over, you already have my attention and enthusiasm! I WANT to cheer for this series!
Then I watched the pilot.
It’s not at all horrible. It’s campy, saucy, and funny at times – very Lifetime TV. All the actresses show mucho talent. I wanted sooo bad to say I loved it, but there were a few cringe factors. I won’t go into them because it’s not even worth it, we’ve all seen them before. AND I’m about promoting positivity, so I’ll share my thoughts on changes I’d make! I would really like for Devious Maids to succeed beyond the first season, but it is going to need some revamping to connect with today’s savvy viewers.
Here are my crazy suggestions for Marc and Eva to ponder…
Carmen (Roselyn Sánchez): I actually like the character of Carmen. She is an aspiring musician who takes a job as a maid for a successful Latin pop star in order to get him to hear her music. Very crafty! She doesn’t plan to stay a maid any longer than to get that connection.
How about: School of Rock-meets-Mrs. Doubtfire. Carmen should be a klutz of a maid. Dropping and breaking things, horrible cooking, totally a fish-out-of-water. Develop her character to show her hustling outside of her day job, performing at open mics, writing songs, promoting her brand, etc. Show her as a business woman, as well as a struggling musician. Show us that this maid gig is just one entry on her action plan to become a superstar performer.
Marisol (Ana Ortiz): This role doesn’t compare to her run on Ugly Betty, but I love that she plays against type of the heavily-accented Latina maid. Marisol has a hard look in her eye, so you know that this maid business is also a front. Another giveaway – she wear high heels to clean a house with nine bathrooms. (Really?) I became excited – maybe Marisol was an international secret agent or undercover cop! Alas, neither are the reason she works the mop. Her reason is revealed at the end of the pilot. isn’t quite so glamorous, but it’ll do.
How about: Mission Impossible-meets-the mom on Spy Kids. In between solving crimes, she uses her time at her new job to become involved in the others women’s lives and empower them. I would like to see her launch an entrepreneur business, get the other maids involved, they all become overnight millionaires, quit their jobs in high drama style and then the series branches off into their new lives of prosperity.
Rosie (Dania Ramírez): I feel for this character, her storyline is legit. She came to the United States when her husband died and is trying to earn money to bring her son over as well. She’s respectful and dutiful, but at the same time she has a lot of spunk and cleverness when it comes to handling a not-so-nice movie star boss.
How about: The Help-meets-The Happiness Project. Through a series of tough-love episodes, Rosie teaches her boss how to be a good mom to her son and live in the moment. She then goes on launches a boot camp for celebrity moms to help them as well. She makes a video and it goes viral. This earns her enough money for college, where she works towards her degree in psychology, at the same time, she writes a self-help book and gets her own talk show. And yes, she is reunited with her son!
Zoila (Judy Reyes): Zoila has absolutely no back story in this series, except that she is a mom to a precocious daughter. I had zero emotional connection.
How about: Joy Luck Club-meets-Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood. There is a lot of resentment between herself and her daughter. No matter how hard she tries, it seems her daughter is always disappointed in her. We find out that Zoila is a divorced socialite activist who ended up on the bad side of a promising deal. She is about to lose her home, business, and even her daughter’s college savings that she worked so hard for. Zoila has learned that she can make quick money by working as the maid for one of Hollywood’s top stars. It’s also good because the job is on the other side of town so none of her friends or community will know that she is secretly working as a maid. The horror!
Valentina (Edy Ganem): She’s my least favorite of the bunch. This was a chance to show a bright young woman shine, yes she can have rocky moments, but for now she is an 18-year-old who sets her sights on a cute Hollywood rich boy. She uses her fashion design skills to hack up a maids outfit into a mini-dress, and quotes lines such as “I like waiting on you!”
How about: Clueless-meets-Brave. She is forced to work with her mom at the mansion to help raise money. She is furious about this. She wants to be a fashion designer, but her mother wants her to pick a more sensible career, especially if they are both working so hard to pay the tuition. Valentina doesn’t think her mother appreciates her talents. The Hollywood boy keeps going after Valentina, but she is a hard catch. She much rather focus on her classes, her popular blog, and working a part-time job at a fashion house. We see her juggle both worlds and we see him work hard to earn attention and trust.
Wow, that was fun! I wonder if any of these ideas crossed their minds already? Let’s work together to bust stereotypes far and wide. Latina maids are not the only ones. Once I interviewed the awesome Tim Curry and he told me that the most discouraging aspect of his career was that he always offered roles as the butler or the villain.
Click here to watch the pilot episode of Devious Maids. Let me know what you think – and how you would change it – if you would at all? By the way – what stereotype do you deal with?