Controversy with a capital “C” has been swirling around Eva Longoria’s ‘Devious Maids’ which airs June 23rd on Lifetime, 10 EST/9 CST. I have been engrossed with all of the opinions good and (mostly) bad about this upcoming series starring FIVE Latinas in lead roles.
I’ve been following the conversation around this upcoming series for a while. Why?! Because this is the first time that Longoria would be an executive producer (or any producer) of an all-Latina leading cast. At the time, not many details were released. As time went on, we learned that name would be “Devious Maids” and my initial reaction was that it was going to be a lot like “Desparate Housewives” in which I was a fan of for several years.
To be completely honest, it did not even occur to me that the five leading Latinas would be the maids! I was still proud that a Latina (who I’ve long admired) was an executive producer and chose to have 5 more Latinas star in the series. Then the conversations online really began to take place. Other Latinas (who I also admire) had some harsh words for Longoria. I’m sharing some snippets from a few written works here and I encourage you to read them in their entirety.
Blogger Tanisha L. Ramirez said this in her Eva Longoria’s Devious Maids Is a Wasted Opportunity:
“I love that Eva Longoria is trying to blaze the trail for more Latino/a-produce content to hit the mainstream airways; however, her means to that end is endlessly disappointing and shortsighted.”
Longoria herself responded to Ramirez with There’s No Such Thing as a Wasted Opportunity:
“Stereotypes are constructed and perpetuated by those who believe in them. I choose not to. As an executive producer, I choose to break the cycle of ignorance by bringing to light something we have not seen before, a deeper, more complex side to the women who live beyond the box that some choose to put them in.”
In which received this response from Cosmopolitan for Latina’s Editor in Chief, Michelle Herrera Mulligan’s Devious Maids Misrepresents Latinas:
“Well, Eva, I’ve watched the show, and I’m genuinely sad to say that I disagree. It’s not a complex portrait; it’s an insulting disgrace. I believe it does a tremendous disservice to the 20 million-plus Latina female population living in the United States.”
I felt disappointed. Herrera’s was the first review I read from someone who had actually watched the show. I wanted this show to be a celebration for the Latino community. Yet, I could definitely understand why many Latinas have such a strong, negative opinion about the show. On the other hand, it’s not just Longoria that agreed to this show. Five other smart and successful in their own right Latina actresses signed up for the project.
Still, I’m an optimist and a fan of Eva Longoria. I wanted this show to “win” but was beginning to have doubts. While I read more blog posts, followed Facebook and Twitter conversations, I had a hard time making a strong opinion without having seen the show for myself.
Fellow Tejano blogger, Juan of Words, shared his opinion in his post Why I’m NOT Afraid of Eva Longoria’s ‘Devious Maids’ … even if they are Latinas.
“I would have loved to have had a show like this to watch as a kid growing up,” Juan shares.
I kind of agree. Women in my family were cleaning ladies. Their hard work has afforded me to not have to work in that industry, therefore, not completely identifying with that occupation. It would still be rewarding to see these characters come out on top even today.
I could not wait until the premiere. I watched the pilot show on Lifetime’s website. I had to be able to make an opinion of my own. My take: If they story line and characters continue to develop like I anticipate, these maids will be seen as much more. As real maids, in real life, are. Stereotypes? It isn’t just the maids that fill a stereotype. Their self-absorbed, wealthier-than-God, could-be-clinically-insane bosses are also stereotypical.
*Psst … (spoiler alert) one of the maids is not even a maid!
Don’t forget this is Hollywood. This is TV! And Lifetime at that (the same network that airs ‘Dance Moms’ and ‘The Client List’)! Do we really expect realistic, complex characters? Were the ‘Desperate Housewives’ characters? If you liked that show, you will like this one. And vice-versa.
I don’t have answers to change Hollywood. What I can do is continue to support Latino artists and producers who create characters who are more than stereotypes. As far as ‘Devious Maids’, only time will tell. There is an opportunity to make all of these leading Latinas the heroines. Hopefully that won’t be the wasted opportunity.
Want something different than Latina maids? Here’s a project you can support today:
Visit Alisa Valdes’ The Dirty Girls Social Club campaign and donate to see THIS movie come to the big screen. Read her unique take on ‘Devious Maids’ in her post: The Problem With Devious Maids Goes Far Beyond Hollywood
“Six years ago, I had a deal with Lifetime Television to develop my bestselling novel, The Dirty Girls Social Club, as a TV series. It soon became clear that the relationship wasn’t going to work, when two executives insisted that my pilot outline “wasn’t Latin enough,” because it told of middle class, educated American women who happened to be Latina.”