Devious Maids: A Mess of Stereotypes? Or a Tidy Solution to TV's Lack of Diversity?

devious-maids-300Already, the women of Devious Maids have got a mess to clean up.

Just days before the new Lifetime series is set to premiere (this Sunday at 10/9c), a few eyebrows have raised about the Latina stereotypes the show might be portraying.

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Based on the Mexican telenovela Ellas Son La Alegría Del Hogar (They Are the Joy of Home), Devious Maids follows four Latina housekeepers who work for the rich and famous of Beverly Hills while harboring dreams and ambitions of their own. One Huffington Post columnist called the series a “wasted opportunity” to diversify Latin women on television, saying: “The minute-long trailer manages to efficiently portray Latinas as hypersexual, nosy, scheming and, at times, totally invisible domestic servants, one set of pushed-up breasts, devilishly squinted eyes and sassy hair flip at a time.”

But Desperate Housewives alum Eva Longoria, an executive producer on the show, has defended Maids from the beginning, saying it is simply a realistic portrayal of Latinas in America — and a needed one, at that.

“When we get any sort of backlash for — ‘Oh, they’re playing the stereotypical maids’ — my immediate response is, ‘So you’re telling me those stories aren’t worth telling? That those people are ‘lesser than’, … that they have no complexity in their life because they’re a maid?'” Longoria told HuffPo.

Longoria also stressed, in an E! News interview, that the lead characters represent “the moral compass of the show and that they’re really the heroes.” Plus, the casting, coupled with her involvement, hands an all-to-rare “opportunity to five Latinas to have a voice” on a primetime series.

What do you think of the Maids mess? Is the show at risk of promoting stereotypes, or is it merely a realistic representation — plus a much-needed blast of diversity? Hit the comments.

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57 Comments
  1. Jessica says:

    I saw the preview for this while out at the theater and I immediately turned to my sister and jokingly said there are some stereotypes at play here. I don’t mind, but I am not Latina. I like most of the actresses so I will watch the pilot, and if I like that I will continue to watch

    • a really tongue-in-cheek take on “nite-time” soaps, like desperate housewives, royal pains, drop dead diva; fun & just take it as fun. if you’re old enuf–remember dallas, knox landing, blah blah blah?

  2. Ana says:

    I started watching the pilot on demand and couldn’t stay awake. Very disappointing. I was really looking forward to this show but found it dull as can be.

  3. Elyse says:

    I’ve been excited about this show since I first heard about it. I can’t wait to watch it!

  4. Nick says:

    the trailer is pretty misleading cause the actual pilot doesn’t just use a bunch of stereotypes to portray the maids. this show actually has the feel to it that might’ve made mistresses a good show

  5. Steven says:

    I enjoyed the pilot. Defiunitely reminded me of early Desperate Housewives. But, as a gay man I understand stereotypes. It’s why I can’t watch Will & Grace.

    • Mitholas says:

      What a joke! As if Will Truman wasn’t a perfectly middle of the road gay character. With that character, they played around a lot with the idea of masculinity as a redeeming quality for gays, and how bogus that idea really is. If anything, Will Truman is the most emancipatory gay man to ever be put on television, simply because he was gay without the excuse of ‘oh, but he’s a totally stereotypical man, he’s just also gay.’
      Therefore, that show did a lot to show people that even gays that aren’t hypermasculine exist, are great, normal people except maybe with a little twist, and that there is nothing wrong with that. Jack, originating as a peripheral character, was a stereotype, but so was Karen a stereotype for the rich, drunk socialite. Again, there is nothing wrong with that, considering that it was, you know, a sitcom, and adding to that the fact that the show also dealt with very serious issues in Jack’s storylines.
      How sad that so long after that show ended, there are still gay men complaining that a character like Will isn’t manly enough.

      • Brooke says:

        I agree, I always liked that Will & Grace had a wide variety of personality types for their gay characters. They had stereotypical ones and completely unstereotypical ones. It reflected the real life gay men I’ve known over the years who are all very different from each other.

        • Joline says:

          Sportscaster Patrick Dempsey, hunky Taye Diggs and dumpy dresser “Barry” all played Will’s love interests and couldn’t be farther from stereotypical characters.

      • Patrick says:

        As a straight man, I never got the feeling the Will was gay. I think that was intentional, because TPTB wanted America to think he might “change.” Eventually he came off as more homosexual, but barely.

    • Rowan77 says:

      I’ve got to cry foul here. If you “can’t watch Will & Grace” because that characters are all stereotypes, then it’s pretty obvious that you’ve never actually watched the show.

  6. Jenny says:

    I enjoyed the pilot. I was disappointed that although the show features two Afro-Latinas, Judy Reyes and Danya Ramirez, both seemed to be coded as Mexicans. That seems like a cop out. Latinas come in different races and colors. Much of Latin America is populated by black Latinos.

  7. Holly says:

    I’ve watched the Pilot. It definitely has a Desperate Housewives or Ugly Betty feel to it. I can understand the debate about the stereotypes for Latinas but then again it is based on a Telenovela. The Caucasian characters are just as stereotypical for that matter. Susan Lucci’s appearance in the pilot is a pleasant surprise.

    • Skater Boy says:

      She shockingly was the bright light, the highlight to the show. She plays well off of the maids especially Reyes and she is hillarious. Some may miss Erica Kane but this character is absolutely over the top fun. And this show is entertainment folks – not a political statement, not a Shakespearean masterpiece a chance to forget the troubles odf the world, the economy and the job. Just enjoy.

  8. Jared says:

    I’ve been looking forward to Devious Maids for awhile but the pilot was awful. The stereotypes,although the show was full of them wasn’t the worst part for me. This show seemed like a mashup of Desperate Housewives and Ugly Betty but with zero creativity. I’ll probably watch another episode or 2 but I doubt ill be sticking with this show.

  9. Emily says:

    Stereotypes are rooted in truth, so i don’t get the constant complaint about them.

    • Brooke says:

      Stereotypes are sociological short-cuts our brains take to organize and understand our world quickly. There are often greater differences with groups than between them, when you take the time and energy to analyze them.

      • Brooke says:

        Sorry, that should say there are often greater differences withIN groups than between them.

      • dude says:

        Stereotypes are generalizations that aren’t necessarily accurate but they are truthful. The majority of latinas in America probably aren’t maids but there are a lot of them just like there are a lot of middle-eastern taxi drivers and african-american youths involved in gang activity. They don’t make up the gross population but they’re prominent enough to be truthful.

    • yeah ok says:

      Maybe it’s because people love to use stereotypes as a way to judge a large group of people without getting to know the individual first. You must not be a “minority”.

    • Mitholas says:

      Is that so, Emily? Well, you’re a woman, so instead of coming here and trying to tell us what your husband’s opinion on stereotypes are, you might want to go back to cleaning the house.

      (Please note that I’m a big supporter of equality on all fronts and that I’m merely using harmfull female stereotypes to make a point.)

  10. Brooke says:

    I definitely rolled my eyes when I heard about the premise of this show. Of COURSE they are maids! To be fair, of course their stories are worth telling. But when so few roles are written for Latinas in the first place, it seems like a waste of an opportunity to write about them being a varied group of individuals doing all sorts of jobs. Ugly Betty did a very good job of that.

  11. M says:

    Disappointed that such talent is being wasted on a show titled Devious Maids. We need more positive role models for our young Latina girls.Showing them they can be sexy and devious and maids for the rich and famous is disappointing.

    I am all for diversity on TV and would love to see more Latina women on television being portrayed in positive roles such as doctors, lawyers and teachers.

    Sad thing is there will be more shows like this in the future.

    • dude says:

      So basically you’re saying that latinas should only be portrayed as ridiculously successful and that maids are beneath you. Cause they can’t be both a maid and a good role model.

  12. dude says:

    Eva made a much more eloquent argument where she basically said the best way to break a stereotype is to zero in on it and show that those people are so much more than their title. So essentially by focusing on latina maids (if it’s well written) they have the opportunity to break stereotypes by diversifying them as characters.

  13. Juan says:

    I think it is ridiculous to knock the show for being about maids. I have spent the better part of last year working side by side with hotel housekeepers, and being a hard working woman who provides for their family, or their dreams, is nothing to be ashamed about.
    Their stories are worth being explored.
    The show has a cast of talented Latinas, and I agree with an above comment that I wish they played afro-latinas and women from other places than just Mexico.
    The pilot is okay, but they need to work on making it less cartoonish, because it feels like the white characters border on 80s soap stereotypes.

    • i think the 80’ish cartoonish style is on purpose from ms longoria- look at desperate housewives- it’s meant to be a joke; it’s supposed to be fun while seeing a different side of life (I think)

  14. Rachel says:

    I watched the pilot that aired the other night. I was finding it hard to keep watching after 10 minutes, I was so bored! The show will need to improve storylines if it plans on sticking around.

  15. mia says:

    Its too early to make a judgement yet, but I find with any show that is trying to circumvent the ‘norm’ of Hollywod, utilizing stereotypes is a great place to start. Stereotypes make people comfortable and could give the show time to find an audience. Hopefully they’ll use the platform to start challenging the stereotypes and showing the humanity beheath them.

  16. Lily says:

    The premise doesn’t interest me in the least, so for me it wouldn’t matter if they were all from Lower Slobovia.

  17. Jennette says:

    Stereotypes are EVERYWHERE on TV. Now they’re just focusing on Latinos. Except that on this show, from what I’ve seen, the maids are the nicest people and their employers are so obnoxious and nasty that the maids are definitely the ones you cheer. It’s not about them being Spanish/Latino.

    The issue is the storyline and how compelling the lead characters are. If you like and care about the characters, it doesn’t matter if they are maids or pool boys. And it takes more than one episode to see how the characters will develop. Right now, Anna Ortiz’ lead character is showing strength and ingenuity as she seeks to… (won’t spoil it for those who have not seen it).

    It’s summer. THere’s not much on. I’ll give it a try.

  18. Kyle says:

    Totally agree with Eva’s statement. Personally I think it’s wonderful to have a show in America where the female leads are all Latina. Regardless of their character’s jobs, these actresses are in STARRING roles. So kudos to them! Hope the show is a big success.

  19. lush says:

    I saw the pilot and definitely liked it and will watch it. I’m Latina and yes its a bit over the top but it reminds me of novelas

  20. Olivia says:

    What I see is that it’s not so much about Latina stereotypes that is the crux of those objecting to this series but rather, could it be because it exposes the reality in how Latinas in servitude positions (and sadly in general) are perceived, treated and mistreated by their White employers? Ignorant statements such as “But you don’t have an accent” “You don’t look Latina” say more of those uttering these insensitive ignorant statements.

  21. TLG says:

    I really enjoyed the pilot and am looking forward to the series. I think it does a good job of capturing the telenovela spirit and balancing that with american soap style.

  22. L says:

    I liked the pilot a lot although I do feel like they need to explore each characters situation a more. I am mexican and as much as I enjoy latinas in roles that aren’t the stereotype, this is a job that a lot of them have. And they have stories to tell! So not a bad thing. All aspects of latinas are worthwile telling!

  23. Belle says:

    Ugh, not wasting anymore of my time on this…one episode was all I needed to see of this train wreck! Sorry to those of you who like it, I am just sick of cliche stereotype characters!

    • have you ever met a real person from a different background that didn’t, hilariously, be the total stereotype that david chappelle, or robin williams or bill cosby or margaret cho, etc. would do?? or that you have noticed and thought? have a sense of humor, love & laugh

  24. Louise says:

    i watched the pilot and have to say im looking forward to watching the rest of the season, i love some of the actress that are in it Judy Reyes, Ana Ortiz and Susan Lucci just to namme a few. yes theres sterotype shown in the show but like Ana said in her interview, they each have there own personalities, secrets, wants and needs that make them different. I made the same point with GCB, when they said it made fun of christinaity, kristin chenoweth is a christian and she believes and loves the show
    Its not like they are playing Latina, they are Latine i dont think they ould endorse and do the show if they felt they were being misrepresented. Eva Logoria is one of the producers and she has spoken heaps about Latina’s and there rights and all that stuff i dont think she would help produce something that shows them in a negative light

  25. Sarahthebaker says:

    I watched the pilot and saw very different Latina women who all have chosen or landed in a house-keeping role for very different reasons. I am not Latina, but felt immediately that this is a wide-angle snapshot that brings much-needed perspective to a demographic that so many others see as only a “stereotype” of the Latin community. If handled well, the show could do much to correct that view: these women are portrayed as smart, funny, feeling, resonating with as many genuine motivations (or more so) as any character portrayed in other shows.

    If I was offended or disappointed by anything, it was the snide and hateful nature of the various rich and yes, white, employers. It was so prevalent, and I don’t feel that represents “me.” I wish that were not the case, but hope to see that evolve over time.

  26. Someone who enjoys great stories. says:

    I think it is ground breaking to tell a story of maids that also have lives, families and all of the other problems and dreams everyone else does while still having issues just like everyone else. Remember the comments when the movie Women Have Curves came out? Hopefully this show will dispense the stereotype of maids who just so happen to be Latin. Could this show have been made with any other race of course but Eva Longoria and Mark Cherry brought this group of high caliber actress to production before anyone else.
    The Comments by Olivia are right on. Just for the record I am not Latin just an average white middle aged Jewish guy who happens to like a great story that should be told and hopefully change minds that we all have the same goals in life regardless of our jobs.

  27. E. Williams says:

    I agree with Eva Longoria. What are we supposed to do, pretend there are no Latino maids. You can only keep your heads in the sand so long. I will enjoy watching the show and look forward to the premiere

  28. Shirley Booth an Oscar winning actress played Hazel a maid in a sitcom way back and no one complained it was beneath her. It was entertaining and she was funny and heartwarming.

    I saw the pilot of Devious Maids and loved it. Each character is different despite being Latina and really I could identify even though my heritage is Eastern European.

  29. Sheldon W. says:

    Let’s see, now… The series’ titular maids are smarter, tougher and more interesting than the rich folks who hire them. They are resourceful and diverse – if not in basic ethnicity, then in personality, focus and dreams.

    And, seriously, when was the last time a maid was the lead in a series? Hazel (1961-66)? And who says that maids can’t be richly developed characters?

    Though this is just a fluffy summer soap, it is well written and directed, and brilliantly acted. It takes what some narrow-minded people might see as stereotypes and then shatters them by creating complex characters and placing them in complex, entertaining situations (entertaining for us, not them – just in case some of those who read this are just that dim).

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  31. Nancy says:

    Wow! I loved the show. Very smart. ABC really missed out picking up Red Widow and the truly horrible Mistresses over this inventive, intriguing and fresh show. Mark Cherry’s writing is stellar as always. Ana Ortiz was amazing, as were all the other female characters, I enjoyed seeing Susan Lucci playing a comedic role. This show will be the highlight of my summer viewing season.

  32. Andrea says:

    Keep it, I love it and there is soil much more to come.

  33. QuePendejos says:

    Just knowing the basic facts of what is at the core of this show; Latina maids, I would say I’m very surprised at Eva Longoria given she pursued advanced learning on her latina/Chicana background at UCLA recently which you would assume would instill more pride and or self awareness. For Cherry, Longoria, the actresses and everyone else involved, it’s just $$$$$$. I’m sure they’re not too concerned with others opinions.

  34. QuePendejos says:

    If I may, I’ll continue a bit more by saying, why not a show about and all Latino law firm or similar? Yes, anybody (including overwhelmingly Latinas) can be a maid. Very few (Latinos/Latinas) in comparison become lawyers. TV shows and especially movies have beaten the Latina maid image into the ground. If Shirley Booth is the only maid you can think of, that’s fine. The many Latina maids shown on TV particularly, never really had main roles, but just frequently as peripheral characters.

    As it is, these types of shows are the kind of show that appeal to the same people that keep, Jerry Springer, Maury Povich, The Kardashians, Honey Boobo, etc., etc. on the air anyway.

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