Lifetime’s new series “Devious Maids” has come in for some criticism over the fact that its five lead actresses, who are all Latina, are playing domestic workers.
The soapy drama, which premieres Sunday (June 23), is based on a Mexican telenovela and comes from “Desperate Housewives” creator Marc Cherry. “Housewives” star Eva Longoria is an executive producer, and she and the five women — Ana Ortiz, Judy Reyes, Roselyn Sanchez, Dania Ramirez and Edy Ganem — who star in the show want people to actually see it before judging it. (Lifetime has the full pilot episode online, incidentally.)
“Honestly, my first reaction was not unlike the blowback we’re getting,” Ortiz tells the L.A. Times. “I understand where people are coming from because, as a Latina and being in this business as long as I have, I was like ‘Really? “Devious Maids”? What, are we all going to be called Maria?’ But it was a show from Marc Cherry, who I respect greatly, so I resisted the urge to write it off completely.”
In taking the part, Ortiz says she now has the chance to play a charcter who’s “strong, powerful and well-educated” — a type she’s never played before.
“We know there’s a responsibility we have to make it successful because if it doesn’t, industry people will be like, ‘Oh, well that didn’t work!,'” Ortiz adds. “And then who knows when the next opportunity like this will happen.”
Longoria, who has been a vocal defender of the show, tells the Times, “It doesn’t define our culture if we are playing these roles.”
Here’s a scene from Sunday’s premiere, in which Reyes and Ganem’s characters try to coax their employer (Susan Lucci) to come out from under her bed, where she’s pitching a fit. It’s pretty representative of the show’s tone, and of the characters — the wealthy Beverly Hills residents — who are the butt of most of the jokes on “Devious Maids.”