Sunday, June 23, 2013

Review - Devious Maids


Lifetime's new drama, from creator Marc Cherry and executive producer Eva Longoria (Desperate Housewives), follows the lives of five sultry maids pursuing their own ambitions and dreams while working for Beverly Hills' rich and famous ... and all the scandal, secrets, murder and mayhem that goes along with it.

The quintet of Latina ladies - Marisol (Ana Ortiz, Ugly Betty), Rosie (Dania Ramirez, Entourage), Carmen (Roselyn Sanchez, Without a Trace), Valentina (Edy Ganem, Livin' Loud) and Zoila (Judy Reyes, Scubs) - are bonded together by their jobs, struggles and the constant drama caused by their respective employers. The series co-stars Grant Show (Melrose Place), Rebecca Wisocky (The Mentalist), Matt Cedano (Days of Our Lives), Drew Van Acker (Pretty Little Liars) and Susan Lucci (All My Children).

The pilot kicks off with quite a splash - literally - when a fellow maid (Paula Garces, All My Children), after receiving a major verbal beat-down by her boss, Evelyn Powell (Wisocky), is brutally stabbed and falls dead into the pool right smack in the middle of Evelyn's cocktail party.  Evelyn's reaction?  Not concern and sadness over the loss of a young woman's life.  Instead, she laments ("My maid was murdered.  Who's going to clean up all this blood?!?) 

Devious Maids definitely has the feel and captures the spirit of Desperate Housewives, complete with the whimsical soundtrack - often mixed with a Latino flavor - underlying all the melodrama.  The Beverly Hills employers are very beautiful, unapologetically self-absorbed, completely narcissistic, utterly condescending and instantly make you root for the underdog maids to prevail in their individual pursuits and goals.

The various matrons of the homes are as hateful as Bryce Dallas Howard's Hilly Holbrook in The Help.   Lucci isn't holding back the hamming it up in her role as Genevieve Delatore (think Sally Field's character in SoapDish).  And it's appropriate that the cast includes so many soap opera vets, as they are well-versed in melodramatic dialogue and plotlines. 

Only on TV would you find maids this collectively beautiful, but it's not like we're talking Shakespeare here, folks.  You just gotta go with it, and Devious Maids makes me a little nostalgic for Desperate Housewives, a show I really enjoyed the full run of.  I had thought NBC's Mistresses would have been the replacement show of the season, but that fell flat for me (though it's getting a smidge better as the program progresses).  Devious Maids does a better job at fulfilling that particular genre void - and there couldn't be a better home for all the drama than Lifetime. 

I'm not sure I'm entirely comfortable with all the hateful, superficial people being exclusively Caucasian while all the people you're to root for are Latina.  While her character wasn't as mean or vile as the ones on DM,  executive producer Longoria's Housewives character Gabrielle Solis was a very spoiled, privileged and conceited character, as was Vanessa Williams' Renee PerrySo why haven't they racially mixed it up more here?  Kind of feels a little like reverse bias ... but maybe that's a message the creators wish to send?

Bottom Line:  I'm not swept away by the maids, but I'll give them a few more episodes to win me over.

Devious Maids airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on Lifetime.

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