Devious Maids fills the Desperate Housewives void rather nicely

Devious Maids

Lifetime’s new soapy sudser has been filling the void left by Desperate Housewives. But why did a program featuring five Latinas in lead roles take so long to hit the airwaves?


Good television shows can be so hard to find. While that may not be a documented Nielsen statistic exactly, it’s certainly my unadulterated opinion. It’s common knowledge among my friends and colleagues that I’ve been on the search for a good TV show to watch ever since Desperate Housewives went off the air in 2012. I’ve tried several programs and, well, they all left something to be desired. Luckily for me, a new summer drama has come to the rescue – and it’s from the minds behind Desperate Housewives no less.

There’s a little murder, scandal and betrayal thrown in for good measure, but that’s all a part of the fun.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is my great pleasure to introduce you to the Devious Maids of Lifetime – a channel I haven’t watched since, well, come to think of it, I don’t think Lifetime has ever really been appointment television for me. Nevertheless, I’m now glued to the network every Sunday night to see what devious activities these beautiful maids are going to be involved in. An adaptation of a fun telenovela, Devious Maids stars Ana Ortiz, Roselyn Sanchez, Judy Reyes, Edy Ganem, and Dania Ramirez, talented actresses that used to compete against each other regularly in Hollywood for the role of the token Hispanic chick. The show, an equalized mix of drama and comedy, takes a cue from Housewives by following the lives of five gorgeous and exceedingly clever women with big dreams. Of course, there’s a little murder, scandal and betrayal thrown in for good measure, but that’s all a part of the fun.

Anyone with access to the internet may be privy to the fact that the show has generated a bit of negative buzz regarding its portrayal of Latinas as maids. However, as someone who works in public relations, I know the value of attention – whether it’s good or bad. But, you see, the thing about Devious Maids is that it’s honestly pretty good. Perchance this is why the show has seen a pretty steady increase in viewership, gaining more and more with each passing episode. Entertainment Weekly recently reported that Maids garnered a four percent increase from its premiere in June, and is now shy of three million viewers – which is solid for a cable network. And why wouldn’t it continue to gain viewership?

As a man of color, who also happens to write a column on ethnic diversity, I find it absolutely refreshing to see five capable and talented Latina actresses in lead roles. To be honest, isn’t it about time? I’m not remotely offended by having these wonderful women of color playing maids. After all, being a maid doesn’t define their characters. On the contrary, these women are portrayed as being smarter than their spoiled and pampered employers. Reyes’ character Zoila, one of my favorites, is frequently paired up with Susan Lucci’s wonderfully hilarious Genevieve. Zoila serves as the voice of reason for Genevieve, a woman who has never had a job and who has been married six – count em, six – times just to have a husband pay for the mortgage of her luxurious mansion. Now, what does that tell you? Mmmmhmph.

It’s not the leads that are portrayed as stereotypical. I think it’s the employers.
With that being said, is Devious Maids stereotypical? Maybe a little — but not in the way you’d expect. I don’t think it’s the leads that are portrayed as stereotypical. I think it’s the employers. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Marc Cherry’s shows are known for being over-the-top fun. I don’t think Maids is trying to prove anything. It’s just a good summer show meant to entertain.

And entertain it does.

Seven episodes in, I have a few favorite moments so far. I liked seeing Carmen (played wonderfully by Sanchez) doing the salsa at a party to impress the music mogul whom she hoped to sign with. I also enjoyed Rosie (portrayed marvelously by Ramirez) walking in on her employer cheating on her husband and then asking what kind of coffee she wanted. And I’m really enjoying Marisol (played beautifully by Ortiz) snooping around to find out who the hell killed Flora. Oh, and any scene with either Lucci or Rebecca Wisocky is pure genius. Wisocky can do more with a facial expression than some actresses can do in a lifetime.

So, is the show a carbon copy of Desperate Housewives? Well, yes…and no. But I guess, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. The show is something of a real valentine to people who miss Housewives. I think it’s filling the void rather nicely. Hopefully, Lifetime renews the program for a second season. I believe they have a real hit on their hands, and I’m finding great pleasure in seeing these amazing Latinas have their (long overdue) moment in the spotlight. It’s a shame really that it’s taken so long to have a show like this. But let’s focus on the positive. At least it’s here now.

Having to wait any longer would have been downright devious.

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Photo Credit: Lifetime

11 Comments on “Devious Maids fills the Desperate Housewives void rather nicely

  1. You have done it again Jay ane welcome back!!!! I am enjoying watching Devious Maids and I agree that it is a replacement for Deperate Housewives. I love the laughter and mystery that the show provides. I am now a fan….Gabby done good!!!

    • Thanks for the warm welcome, Brenda! And yes, Gabby (Eva) has done very well with the show! :-)

  2. The last 3 episodes have been really great although nothing will ever replace Desperate Housewives,especially the first few seasons. The most charming aspect was the suburban street with such normal everyday characters. The last 2 seasons (season 8 in particular) lacked that charm. But still it was the best series ever. 2 episodes in, I knew the character’s names.

    With Devious, even after 7 episodes I still don’t know all of their names. I wonder why ? For some reason their characters don’t quite stick with you. Although this is definitely the next best thing after Desperate Housewives.

    • Joey, you make a good point! I learned names of The Desperate Housewives characters relatively fast too! And you’re right — Devious Maids cannot compare to the magic that is Desperate Housewives. However, I do think that this season of Devious Maids has been better than season five and six of Desperate Housewives. I’m really enjoying the show. I probably didn’t learn all of the character names until episode four, but that’s okay. The show is starting to find it’s groove.

      I don’t know about you, but Rosie certainly sticks with me. She’s so endearing. And I also like Zoila. I like how straight-forward she is, although I’d like to see more of her soft side.

      • Rosie and Valentina are sticking with me, in fact all of them are starting to now. Episodes 6 and 7 have been very good. But Marc will have to come up with something really special if this show has to last a 3rd season.

        • I agree with you! I was trying to think about how a second season would be…and I came to the conclusion that Marc and his team are going to have to be VERY creative to keep things fresh. They’re going to have to bring in new supporting characters for the maids to interact with.

          Hey, have you noticed that the group dynamic is kinda modeled after the Desperate Housewives? To me, Valentina is kinda like the Edie of the group in that she’s considered one of the maids, but she’s not a part of the core four. She’s excluded from their group meetings, but she’s featured in her own subplot just like Edie was on Desperate Housewives. Have you noticed this?

          • No I didn’t notice this, but come to think of it that is very true. Like Edie she is in the background but very much there. It’s not just the group dynamic but the entire show that is modeled after DH. I would call this the poor man’s Desperate Housewives :)

  3. Great post! You hit the nail on the head with the issue of stereotypes — all the prejudice (and most of the misfortune) is landing squarely on the rich whities! I think that’s a big part of where the show gets its humour. I have a feeling most of the viewers are white, and I’m sure many of them are a lot more comfortable seeing white people as the butt of the jokes. Like, it’s comforting to leave racism aside for a moment.
    I find Marisol the most compelling, since she’s the biggest betrayer of the negative Latina stereotype — obviously brilliant, obviously clever, an adoptive parent, an amateur detective… Love it! And I’ve loved watching her relationship with the other women become more complicated. Can’t wait to see what comes next!

    • Thanks, Hannah! I appreciate it. It’s not just the whites that are stereotypical — it’s all of the employers. Carmen’s boss Alejandro is pretty full of himself, very vain and snobbish. Evelyn Powell is one of my favorite characters. Rebecca Wisocky, who plays Evelyn, seems to play the stereotype for laughs, and she nails it every single time. Susan Lucci is pretty good too.

      Marisol is compelling, yes. However, my favorite maids are Zoila and Rosie. Rosie is just so nice and sweet. And Zoila is no-nonsense. I love Zoila’s relationship with Genevieve. She keeps Genevieve in check!

    • Yes, Chuck! I heard the news as soon as I came home from work. I am so excited. Devious Maids is very entertaining. I just hope it crosses the three million viewer mark soon though. My favorite maids are Rosie and Zoila.

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