Devious Maids / Screen

Devious Maids: “Pilot” Review

My hopes for this show were as follows: I want it to be all about how white people are terrible.

And I was not disappointed.

In true Marc Cherry fashion, Devious Maids opens with the murder of Flora, a maid in the home of Evelyn and Adrian Powell who’s accused of having an affair with skeezy Adrian.  After being subjected to a racist tirade by Evelyn, Flora writes a note saying she  was raped and tucks it into a book.  Moments later she’s violently murdered.  The aftermath of her death sees Evelyn in distress because there’s no one to clean up the blood at the crime scene which is only the beginning of a long list of ways in which the white employers display their absolute inability to see the Latina women who work for them as people.

The book in which Flora tucks her note is titled “The Peasant and the Devil”, an especially apt description of what this show is looking like.  Employers are terrible for the most part, but it’s clear they don’t intend to be or even realize how cruel and offensive they really are.  Their maids don’t even fall under an umbrella of ‘People Deserving Basic Decency and Respect’.  When they don’t have accents and speak as if they’ve been to college like Marisol (Ana Ortiz) it’s disturbing, and any offense taken is chalked up to “attitude”, a fault of the maids instead of the racism of the white people who employ them.  

The other maids are Flora’s friends who are aware of a secret that may explain why Flora was killed, but it’s a secret they’re determined to keep.  The other maids’ relationship with Flora is something that’s hard to gauge so far as none of them seem particularly broken up about her death.  There were tears shed at the funeral, but afterward none of the women spare much a thought for her until Marisol questions them about it.  The most shaken up is Rosie who warns Marisol about the Powells before being hushed up by Carmen and Zoila, and I wonder if the lack of emotion they seem to have regarding Flora is due to some sense of self-preservation as well as being more concerned with their own issues which take priority over a murder mystery that none of them are in a position to solve.  Or maybe they just weren’t that close to her but bonded while gossiping about their employers. They’re very quick to embrace Marisol, just over their shared status as the help, and perhaps that was the case with Flora as well. 

From the jump it’s clear Marisol has ulterior motives for being there, from her clandestine attendance of Flora’s funeral to her questioning of the other maids about Flora’s murder, who she’s aware know more than what they’re telling.  Later we learn the waiter under suspicion for killing Flora is Marisol’s son, Eddie, which was surprising only because of how white he is.  Marisol’s obviously very aware of the people into whose orbit she’s placed herself in order to clear Eddie’s name, and she’s willing to manipulate anyone she has to into telling her what she needs to know.  It’s hard to tell how much of what’s an act and what’s actually Marisol at this point as the only honest interaction we saw was at the episode’s end, but I suspect that Marisol is manipulating everyone in her quest, including the other maids if need be.

Overflowing are the parallels between the maids and their employers.  Rosie (Dania Ramirez) works for vapid actress Peri who’s more concerned with having the title of ‘Attentive Mother’ than actually being one and is horrified at the thought of her son mistaking Rosie as his mother.  Meanwhile Rosie’s trying to get her own son, left in Mexico, stateside with her, a plight that Peri can’t sympathize with even after she sees Rosie crying after a phone call with him.

Carmen (Roselyn Sanchez) is looking to make it big as a singer while working for Alejandro Rubio, the only non-white employer we see and the only other Latino character besides the maids.  Both being Latino, they have a shared racial experience to fall back on, but that being said, Alejandro wasn’t incredibly nice to Carmen at their first meeting and seemed a little annoyed at her greeting him.  He’s obviously accomplished a lot, and Carmen admires him, but I wonder if Alejandro has ascended to a level on which he wouldn’t be concerned with helping his maid reach success.  The only person he seems moderately friendly to is white and European Odessa, Carmen’s supervisor of sorts.   Maybe Alejandro’s become, if not as race obsessed but as class oriented as his neighbors, and Carmen is just the maid to him.

Zoila and Valentina (Judy Reyes and Edy Ganem) are mother and daughter who work for mother and son Genevieve and Remi Delatour.  I can’t say that the Delatours are racist.  In fact, they may be the most benign of all the employers, but Valentina’s crush on Remi worries both Zoila and me.  I liked Valentina lot, as well as her ambition and resourcefulness, and I worry that this Remi thing is going to explode in her face.  It’s a Marc Cherry show so chances are there’s going to be some exploding and maybe some making out , but judging by what we’ve seen so far of the people on this show, these employers are self-obsessed. Remi and his mother were a little odd but decent.  Even if no harm is intended to Valentina, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some coming her way just out of pure ignorance and privilege on Remi’s part.

There’s a lot of comedy and potential for character development in the weekly employer shenanigans, but I’m looking forward to the other women getting on the same page with Marisol about finding out who killed Flora.  The only employers I’m even slightly interested in seeing more of are the Delatours, and that’s only because of the potential for Edy Ganem and Drew Van Acker to smush their faces together. If there’s no face smushing I’m going to be very disappointed.

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