Devious Maids, the new TV series produced by and starring actress Eva Longoria, is being criticized as demeaning to Hispanics and for stereotyping Latino women as domestic help.
When commercials started playing advertising the new Lifetime Network drama/comedy about five Latina maids, many potential viewers complained that the heroines of the show were but lowly Latina house maids. It was demeaning, stereotypical, and even racist they said.
Damarys Ocana, executive editor of Latina Magazine, was one that immediately criticized the new series. “There probably wasn’t a Latina in the country who didn’t initially roll her eyes of ‘oh great, here we go again. Another Latina character that’s a maid,'” she told ABC News.
Twitter user Yvonne Hernandez was also wary of the premise of the show posting a Tweet that bemoaned the idea “Because there aren’t enough stereotypes about overly dramatic Latinas.”
These reactions were typical of much of the criticism.
The series is loosely based on the Mexican telenovela series, Ellas son la Alegria del Hogar (“They Are the Joy of Home”), and essentially gives us several families of clueless rich people who barely notice the “devious maids” who are running their households and plucky Latina maids who diligently work through their duties while dealing with their callous and comic employers and living soap opera-like lives.
The show was created by Marc Cherry, the mind behind Desperate Housewives, so you know Devious Maids will have that comic drama flair. Along with Longoria, the series stars Ana Ortiz, Judy Reyes, Roselyn Sanchez, Dania Ramirez and Edy Ganem as well as long-time soap opera actress Susan Lucci in a supporting role as one of the clueless, rich employers.
Showing how wide spread the condemnation is for the show’s portrayal of Latina domestic help, nearly every review mentions the charge of racism, though few find that the claims hold much water.
In its mostly positive review, The New York Times mentions the charges of racism against the show, but dismisses them as baseless. Reviewer Alessandra Stanely even goes into a lengthy lament that portrayals of domestic staff is hard to find on TV these days and excuses Devious Maids satisfied it fills that niche.
For USA Today, Robert Blanco voices the most common point made by many reviewers: That there are an awful lot of domestic workers in this country and why shouldn’t they have a TV show?
“None of us should want a TV universe where Latina women are only presented as maids,” Blanco says, “but these women do exist. Surely their stories should be allowed to be told, and Maids seems set to tell them fairly well, and in entertaining fashion.”
Star Longoria agrees with this sentiment.
“It doesn’t define our culture, if we’re playing these types of roles,” Longoria told the L.A. Times. She was also disappointed in her own community. “What I didn’t expect was that much criticism from our own community having not even seen it,” she said.
Sanchez also disputes the charge of racism. “We don’t think that (by) playing maids we’re being demeaning to the Latino culture,” she told Maximo TV.
Ortiz, was herself wary of the show when she was handed an early script. She told Us Weekly “I had the same reaction” as detractors. “When I first saw the script, I was like, ‘Really?'”
But after becoming involved Ortiz says that she feels these characters have a story that deserves to be heard.
“I reject the notion that if a woman, a person, a human is a maid, that they don’t deserve to have their story told. I just don’t accept that you have to be a doctor or a lawyer to be a hero,” she said.