“Devious Maids” is striking up national conversation about the Latina stereotypes that are often portrayed on primetime television, and while critics seem to be disappointed with the programming, Eva Longoria has been quick to defend her new show.
Throughout Hollywood’s history many of the roles on successful shows that go to Latinos are service positions such as a gardener, maid, or nanny; so when Marc Cherry revealed he would be creating a prime time show with an all-Latino cast, many viewers were disappointed when they discovered what the show was about.
Rather than being a show that portrays a Latino family engaging in life as American citizens, the show seems to be one big Latina stereotype… so far anyway.
“Devious Maids” is a show about a group of Latinas who are maids for rich families and who take part in rather scandalous activities at the same time.
The pilot for the comedy-drama began with a wealthy woman scolding her Latina maid using borderline racist, backhanded compliments, then accusing the maid of sleeping with her husband.
“I think what you people do is heroic,” the woman begins. “You wash clothes you can’t afford. You polish silver you will never dine with. You mop floors for people who don’t bother to learn your name. That said, if you don’t stop screwing my husband, I’m going to have you deported.”
So in addition to playing the roles of Latinas as stereotypical maids and housekeepers, it appears the actresses are supposed depict illegal immigrants as well, which is another stereotype of the Latino community that has been perpetuated for years.
While the Latino community was quick to bash the show and criticize the program’s creators, its producer Eva Longoria looked at the show from a different perspective.
“I take pride in the fact that these characters are not one dimensional or limited to their job title,” Longoria explained. “As the minority becomes the majority and the United States becomes more diverse, it is important that the protagonists on television embody this diversity.”
She went on to say that it is also our job as citizens to support diverse programming or it would continue to vanish.
The problem that many critics are having with this idea of diversity through programs such as “Devious Maids” is, how diverse is the program if the roles are all the same?
Is it really enough to put people of different cultural backgrounds on a show and then call it diverse, even though the roles maintain the status quo?
“Well, Eva, I’ve watched the show, and I’m genuinely sad to say that I disagree,” Mulligan said. “It’s not a complex portrait; it’s an insulting disgrace.”
Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, author of “The Dirty Girls Social Club,” wasn’t very happy with the program either.
“I saw the first [episode] and thought it was annoying,” Valdes-Rodriguez said. “I just don’t like the flamenco guitar tone every time there’s a Latina on the screen. It’s very unimaginative and predictable. I have no interest in the show at all.”
Despite the debate over the programming, The National Hispanic Media Coalition is supporting the new show and stated that several of their members viewed the pilot and saw nothing wrong with it.
Alex Nogales, executive director of the coalition, explained that the Latino community doesn’t need to be ashamed to admit that not everyone’s background is what they want it to be.
“If I came from a poor migrant experience, does that mean that story doesn’t get told,” he questioned. “That’s silly.”
Perhaps the real issue isn’t this program itself, but that other types of roles haven’t been present for Latinos on prime time television.