Monday, June 24, 2013

Tune In or Tune Out: Devious Maids (Lifetime)

Devious Maids 
Created by: Marc Cherry (Desperate Housewives)
Starring: Ana Ortiz (Ugly Betty), Judy Reyes (Scrubs), Roselyn Sanchez (Without a Trace), Dania Ramirez (Heroes), and Susan Lucci (All My Children)

When it was a Telenovela, Devious Maids had an all-Latino cast, even the employers. Not so in English, where only the maids are Latina now.

Stereotypical? Sure, the show Devious Maid premiered on Lifetime last night, and received a lot of critiques from the Latino/Hispanic community.  Executive Producer Eva Longoria (Desperate Housewives) has defended the series saying while there may be some stereotypes, the show represent a characterization of real Latino women, and the problems many of them face.

At the moment I have to agree with Longoria, especially since this show is based on the Mexican television series Ellas alegrĂ­a de.  Although in this telenovela, Latinos played all the characters, the rich people and the maids.  In defense of the show  the women who are Latina or Hispanic are the sympathetic characters within the series, while their white employers are monsters. 

On the other hand the show does continue the imperialistic nature of North American dominance. Alicia Valdes spoke with many Latinos and here was a quote from someone she interviewed "It is not wrong to be a maid, or even a Latina maid, but there is something very wrong with an American entertainment industry that continually tells Latinas that this is all they are or can ever be." Professor Charles Ramirez Berg explains that Hollywood’s stereotypical “construction of Latinos in this country [is done] to justify the United States’ imperialistic goals. U.S. imperialism was based on the notion that the nation should control the entire hemisphere and was willing to fight anyone who disagreed."  North American imperialism within US television series has pushed Latina women to the side. If you look at this cast its full of many talented Latina actresses who need/deserve more work!

Looking at both these arguments I agree with both, this is trying to be pure entertainment showing "the struggle."  Valdes article has valid arguments, but as more and more Latinos/Hispanics become part of this culture, I have a feeling this trend will swing within her favor.  American television has become slow on the upswing with many levels, from ethnic, racial, and LGBT representation.  Valdes has one thing right Latina women should not be just portrayed as maid.  

On to the show itself, because I could analyze the representation of Latinos in the media for an entire book.  Cherry's premise is formulaic, and similar to Desperate Housewives.  If you were a fan of his previous work then you will enjoy this series, because the premise plot etc are almost too similar.  Cherry needs to come up with a new formula.  This is the problem with American television, they see a formula, and its lather, rinse, repeat.  When people complain about the lack originality its because of this this re-tread.  I am proud of ABC for passing on this series.

The only reason I watched this series was because of Ana Ortiz, Judy Reyes, and my girl Susan Lucci.  All of these three women were great, and the show had its moments.  I will watch one more episode of this show, and see if it picks up any steam, but this is not worth it.

Tune Out!

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