Why It is Value Revisiting “Devious Maids”

Eva Longoria’s “Devious Maids” stirred up the Latinx neighborhood when it premiered almost a decade in the past. Right here was this massive, English-language cable present starring 5 Latinas however because the title reveals, they had been all maids. So, did the Lifetime sequence replicate or problem the stereotype that Latinas exist solely to serve better-off, Anglo households? The neighborhood hotly debated the present earlier than it even got here out, sounding off within the widespread press and elsewhere.

“Whenever you regarded on the promotional supplies that Lifetime put out for ‘Devious Maids,’ the actresses enjoying these roles had been very sexualized when it comes to their costume and when it comes to their posture . . . After which additionally the maid once more — why can we wish to reify that?”

“It was largely dismissed for 2 causes: the promotional supplies and in addition the identify of the present itself,” says Dr. Jillain Báez, Affiliate Professor within the division of Africana, Puerto Rican, and Latino Research at Hunter School and writer of “In Search of Belonging: Latinas, Media and Citizenship.”

“Whenever you regarded on the promotional supplies that Lifetime put out for ‘Devious Maids,’ the actresses enjoying these roles had been very sexualized when it comes to their costume and when it comes to their posture . . . After which additionally the maid once more — why can we wish to reify that?”

Dr. Frances Negron-Muntaner, Professor on the Middle for the Examine of Ethnicity and Race and Director of the Media and Concept Lab at Columbia College shares how a part of the present’s success was in the way it was in a position to usher in new viewership and never solely Latina viewership. “And that demonstrated that a whole lot of the assumptions behind not hiring Latinas to play leads are flawed,” says Dr. Negron-Muntaner says. We’re speaking about Ana Ortiz (“Ugly Betty” and “Love, Victor”), Roselyn Sanchez (“Fantasy Island” and “Grand Hotel“), Judy Reyes (“Scrubs” and” “Jane the Virgin”) and that is simply among the solid.

Two Latina writers reduce their tooth on the present — Tanya Saracho who went on to make the acclaimed “Vida” and launched Ojalá Productions and Gloria Calderon Kellett, who’s the pressure behind “One Day at A Time” and “With Love.” So it is no exaggeration to say the present propelled a technology of Latina expertise within the trade. Negron-Muntaner says stereotypes are too typically “a prerequisite to have that type of visibility — we have to give the viewers one thing that they discover acquainted with a view to introduce one thing unfamiliar.”

“There’s nothing flawed with being Latina and being a maid. I haven’t got an issue with that. My grandmother, my father’s mom was a maid in Cuba. What’s flawed is when you will have an leisure trade, which was what it was on the time, that claims, ‘that is all you may be.'”

Cultural critic and writer of “The Soiled Women Social Membership” and a dozen different books, Alisa Lynn Valdés initially criticized the present in an op-ed for NBC Latino. “There’s nothing flawed with being Latina and being a maid. I haven’t got an issue with that. My grandmother, my father’s mom was a maid in Cuba. What’s flawed is when you will have an leisure trade, which was what it was on the time, that claims, ‘that is all you may be,'” she recounts to hollywoodnewsflash.us, “I saved seeing stereotypical therapies of us being greenlit and it was irritating for me as a author.”

Valdes goes on to share that on the time when she was overtly criticizing it, she hadn’t truly seen the present. “I did not know what they had been attempting to do and what she was doing. I feel Eva Longoria has much more emotional intelligence than I do,” she says. “And he or she was much more strategic . . . she was creating alternative and doing what she might throughout the confines of a really fucked up enterprise.”

However limitations of the leisure trade apart, Valdés started to understand the present after watching extra of it. “I feel it was very nicely executed and I see what they had been doing. I used to be a lot too literal in my interpretation of it,” she explains. “They had been [doing] nearly precisely what I did with my e-book, now that I give it some thought, which is you give [the audience] what they suppose they need. And by the tip of it, you show that the factor they wished would not exist. [Eva Longoria] took this stereotype of the Latina maid after which gave these characters nice depth and humanity.”

In fact, even all these years later, not everybody agrees. Michelle Herrera Mulligan, who now works in publishing, was the editor-in-chief of “Cosmopolitan for Latinas” when the present got here out. She wrote an op-ed in HuffPost critiquing the show and nonetheless remembers the visceral expertise she had watching the primary episode.

“I nearly threw up once I noticed it, it was so deeply repugnant to me. I couldn’t proceed. I imply I barely might end the episode,” Herrera Mulligan tells hollywoodnewsflash.us. Her high concern? A scene the place Judy Reyes’s character buys a maid’s uniform for her daughter and tells her she must put on it as a result of “these folks in that home must be reminded of what we’re there to do.”

“Once I heard that, that was once I actually began seeing crimson as a result of I used to be raised by my mom who was a maid. And once I was actually the age of that character, we had an identical [conversation],” she says. “And [my mom] stated to me, ‘you may by no means put on this uniform. That is not what that is.’ And that was at all times the narrative. Not simply the narrative that I used to be raised with, it was additionally the narrative that everyone I knew that was a baby of any type of home employee was raised with.”

Herrera Mulligan goes on to share how along with her upbringing there was no means she might really feel pleased with seeing Latinas solid in such stereotypical roles. “I strongly imagine that the viewers who has now fallen in love with Penelope Alvarez’s heart-driven, steadfast ambition on ‘One Day at a Time,” or Lyn and Emma’s unapologetic messy seek for self on ‘Vida’ aren’t going to look again at ‘Devious Maids’ as groundbreaking,” she provides.

“I feel the opposite facet of it’s, when you start to truly watch this sequence, you see that the writers and the actresses are actually type of enjoying round with [preconceived notions of the Latina maid],” counters says Dr. Báez, “For instance, one of many maids, Rosie is separated from her younger son, who’s nonetheless in Mexico . . . That immigration storyline was a extremely vital one which obtained missed. And it now holds such super salience.”

As well as, it is price remembering what the stereotype of that Latina maid is — almost invisible. However “Devious Maids” turned that complete concept round by making Latina maids the principle characters and exploring their lives, struggles, and survival ways. As Dr. Negron-Muntaner says, its leads “had been autonomous topics that had their very own lives and their very own targets. Performing this work or taking over this identification or enjoying on the assumptions that individuals have about this identification had been strategic selections [the characters made], reasonably than important or inherent traits.”

The issue of the Latina maid on display screen and the way and if she must be represented is not the one concern that presents itself trying again on “Devious Maids. Each Valdés and Herrera Mulligan confronted excessive penalties for criticizing the present publicly. Valdés nonetheless hasn’t been in a position to get “The Soiled Women Social Membership” changed into a movie or sequence, regardless of books with comparable gross sales numbers usually getting greenlit. As somebody who’s come to understand the present and Eva Longoria as “an clever chess participant,” Valdés now cites talking up in opposition to the present as “an enormous profession remorse.”

Herrera Mulligan signed an NDA however she might share that “I felt that my job was in peril . . . and my standing, I felt, by no means recovered.” Worse than shedding her job, although, was how the neighborhood responded. “There have been lots of people who seen me as being a traitor to the neighborhood . . . as being a kind of those that acts like a crab in a barrel, that simply tries to tear down any Latina who will get forward in life,” she says. It is a robust consequence from merely talking her fact.

The factor about “Devious Maids” is that it used stereotypes to get within the door after which subverted them. Watching all 4 seasons, it’s clearly profitable at undercutting the concept of the subservient Latina maid. However for everybody who did not watch it, who solely heard of it and noticed the promotional supplies — for them, did it do extra hurt than good? That is one thing cheap folks can disagree on. And disagreeing is not one thing anybody must be punished for.

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