Lifetime has teamed up with actress Eva Longoria for a new show called, Devious Maids. Recently the show has come under fire for what some critics deem a stereotypical portrayal of Latina women who will be working as maids for most of the show. Not only are they to be” devious” but they will also be seen as “sexy” maids which is hypersexualizing Latina women. This is evident in the trailer and first episode!
The show is based on a Mexican telenovela which focuses on five maids who solve a murder case. The original telenolva featured an all Latina class who played different age and class characters such as the owners of the classes where the maids worked. However, in the adaptation written by Marc Cherry (a white male) there are characters played by different races which leaves some unsettled to see wealthy white families with a Latina maid. This brings up the age-old stereotype of women of color working as maids a la The Help. Therefore, critics are not pleased with the portrayal of Latina women in roles that are seen as dis-empowering and less then.
It is important to note that like African-American women, Latina women are often depicted as overly sexually, aggressive, lewd, and known for being maids. Well, guess what Eva Longoria asserts that Devious Maids is not perpetuating any of these and defends her show, she tells E!
“Devious Maids is a show that centers on five (count ’em), five Latinas who are bonded together by their jobs, their ambitions, their dreams and
their life struggles,” she explained. “The five women are maids by occupation only; it is what they do, not who they are.”Are maids a realistic reflection of Latinas in America today??” she mused. “Yes, but they are not a reflection of every Latina.”
“Stereotypes are constructed and perpetuated by those who believe in them. I choose not to,” she wrote. “The only way to break a stereotype is to not ignore it. The stereotype we are grappling with here is that as Latinas, all we are is maids. And yet, this is a show that deconstructs the stereotype by showing us that maids are so much more.”
“I take pride in the fact that this is the first show to feature an all-Latina lead cast,” she added. “I take pride in the fact that these characters are not one-dimensional or limited to their job title.”
“Are Latinas teachers, and doctors and lawyers in America today? Yes.” she continued. “Should their stories be told as well? Absolutely. But, this show is called Devious Maids, not ‘Latinas in America.'”
Eva concluded by reiterating that Devious Maids is not “a wasted opportunity; it would be a missed opportunity if we didn’t tell the stories that haven’t been told.
REAL TALK SOUND OFF::: It should come at no surprise that this show would be seen as stereotypical. There is no bones about it. Latina women and maids have become synonymous with one another.
However, just like shows that portray black women as stereotypical African-American women still watch whether they are empowered or dis-empowered inside. It really depends on the woman who is watching.
A viewer will determine how this show fits into her perception of Latina women from a cultural and historical standpoint or she will decide to view it as entertainment that isn’t to be emulated. I am the first to admit I watch Love & Hip Hop, which is the king of stereotyping African-Americans, but I am also conscious enough to not fall into the trap of thinking that what I see is reality. I know it is entertainment.
Either way I am glad that Eva said she is proud to feature the first all Latina cast on a major network because it has been a long time coming and so over due. It is my hope that we will have more programming like this very soon, especially as the Latina population will soon be the largest group in the US in a matter of years!
Overall, I look forward to watching and seeing what the show does or doesn’t have to offer viewers.
I want to hear from you:
- Will you watch?
- Do you think Devious Maids is stereotypical and/or dis-empowering to Latina women?
- Do you agree with Eva Longoria?
- What effect do you think this will have on young Latina girls?