Devious Maids — the latest from Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry and based on a Mexican soap opera, Ellas son la Alegría del Hogar — follows the lives of four Latina maids working amongst the rich and crazy in southern California. With Eva Longoria as one of the executive producers and starring Ugly Betty‘s Ana Ortiz, Entourage‘s Dania Ramírez, Scrubs’ Judy Reyes, and Without A Trace‘s Roselyn Sánchez, there’s some serious Latina power coming from this show. Nonetheless, for a show with this type of premise, there was always going to be some evidence of stereotypes.
The episode kicks off with the murder of Flora (Paula Garcés), the maid of Evelyn and Adrian Powell (Rebecca Wisocky and Tom Irwin). It seems like the nondescript waiter did it, but the shady Evelyn and Adrian are no innocent bystanders. Shortly before Flora’s dramatic death (stabbed then stumbled into the pool during a lavish party), Evelyn threatened to deport her if she didn’t stop sleeping with her husband. And while Adrian alleges he was seduced, Flora writes a note stating that she was raped. Not cool, Angela Chase’s dad. Not cool.
Marisol (Ana Ortiz), creeping in the bushes of Flora’s funeral,overhears the other maids, Rosie (Dania Ramírez), Carmen (Roselyn Sánchez), Zoila (Judy Reyes), and Valentina (Edy Ganem), discussing the secrets Flora kept to her grave. But since it’s TV, those secrets are sure to spill in due time. Marisol, shocking the young and blonde Taylor Stappord (Brianna Brown) with her lack of an accent that “sounds like she went to college,” suggests that she work on a trial basis for the Stappords. While the show highlights how obviously ignorant Taylor’s statement is, it doesn’t help that the show also reinforces her suspicions since, after all, Marisol does have something to hide. But more on that later.
Zoila and her daughter Valentina work for Genevieve Delatour (Susan Lucci) and her son Remi (Drew Van Acker). Susan Lucci is a gem as the prescription drug addicted train wreck Genevieve, finally allowing herself to flex her comedic muscles. I could have used more Lucci — sorry Genevieve — and less crazy-eyed Valentina. Valentina and Remi may be hot, but her seduction would be more fun if her eyes didn’t make those scenes so disconcerting. Is she trying to seduce him or steal away his soul?
Carmen works for Alejandro Rubio, famous Latin musical artist. However, she butts head with her employer’s Germany nanny, Odessa, as she tries to jockey herself a position close to him. An aspiring singer, she hopes to gain favor and support from Alejandro to kickstart her own music career. Despite her frustrations, she curries favor with Sam (Wolé Parks), Alejandro’s aide also known as the only black person in California according to this show. She uses his attraction to her advantage, seductively pouting and rubbing his shoulders so that he sabotages the house elevator. Her plan—which isn’t really that clear or well thought out on anyone’s part—doesn’t go as she hoped. But due to some crazy, random happenstance, Odessa is temporarily left out of a commission, putting Carmen one step closer to Alejandro and thereby her dreams.
Rosie works for the actor couple, Spence and Peri Westmore (Grant Show and Mariana Klaveno), and takes care of their baby boy as she struggles to bring her own young son to the United States. When Rosie asks to take a day off to meet with an immigration lawyer to help bring her son Miguel from Guadalajara to California, Peri, in True Blood Lorena style, fake-smiles and rejects her, stating that she should take it as a compliment that she is needed so much. Rosie and Peri’s interactions are fun as they are extreme opposities of warm and cold, but Spence is quite a drip. On second thought, all of the men are wet blankets. This is a woman’s world, in which the men are there to pay bills, make snide comments, and sleep with whoever seduces them next. That is, except for Mr. Powell is has enough creep vibes for one show.
Speaking of the sketchy Adrian Powell, he comes on to Marisol as she examines the still uncleaned study where Flora was stabbed. She offered Evelyn to clean her home after overhearing Evelyn opine to Taylor about the state of her house after Flora’s death. As Rosie confesses to Marisol, the Powells are “strange,” but I’m not yet sure if they are a fun-strange or just an alarming-strange.
Marisol is eventually accepted to stay on as the Stappords’ live-in maid. She earns Taylor’s trust and respect for throwing out the ex-Mrs. Stappord after she literally throws her stone cold heart at Mr. Stappord during a dinner party. The episode ends with Marisol visiting a prison to speak to her son—who is none other than the waiter charged with murdering Flora. Intrigue! Now, given what the show has established, assuming all Caucasian people are rich and all Latinas are maids, the waiter is the lovechild between Marisol and a former employer. That could explain why she has the skills to be a maid but doesn’t seem to used to it. I could be wrong; I hope I’m wrong. But we’ll just have to wait and see. It’s refreshing to see four talented Latina actresses highlighted and given prominent roles on a primetime television series, but it is still problematic that they all play stereotypical sexy and “spicy” Latina maids. Nevertheless, there is something more to the mysterious murder plot that may be worth watching.
Quick thoughts: Why Valentina strip before preparing Remi’s tea rather than waiting to change until the tea is almost ready? Why is Marisol wearing peep-toe platform wedges to clean the Powells’ house? Why are all of their clothes so brightly colored? (Most of my questions are clothing-related.)
Is Devious Maids a guilty pleasure that is sure to be included on my Sunday night must-watch list? Is it more worthy of hate-watching to decry against gender, race, and socio-economic class roles and structures? Or should I take a page from
Susan Lucci Genevieve Delatour and take a mood stabilizer to just relax and enjoy the show?
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