April 21, 2014

THE SKED Season Premiere Review: “Devious Maids”


DEVIOUS MAIDS:  Sunday 10PM on Lifetime

The comic soap DEVIOUS MAIDS, based on a Mexican telenovela, overcame a slow start to become a solid performer for Lifetime last season, rising 50% in total viewers between its premiere and the season finale.  With Army Wives done, Witches of East End only a modest success and The Client List scuttled by internal issues, the series, from Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry, is even more important to its network this time around.

The promos for next week promise some kind of game-changing twist coming up, but tonight’s season premiere suggested that this year will lack the sort of overarching storyline and unified structure that the mystery of maid Flora’s murder gave the series in its first season.  Instead, Cherry’s script provided a separate plot for each of its heroines.

The action picked up 3 months after the finale’s conclusion, and found Marisol (Ana Ortiz), who spent last season pretending to be a maid in order to solve Flora’s murder (for which her son had been arrested), back in her real identity, and instantly engaged to wealthy Nicholas (new regular Mark Deklin), whose first wife died mysteriously and probably nefariously 15 years ago.  Marisol may no longer be a maid, but now she’s the enemy of one, Nicholas’s possessive live-in housekeeper Opal (new regular Joanna P. Adler).  The other characters picked up more or less where they left off:  Carmen (Roselyn Sanchez) serving as faux-girlfriend to her secretly gay employer the singer Alejandro (Matt Cedeno); Rosie (Dania Ramirez) haplessly in love with boss Spence (Grant Show), putting her unknowingly at odds with his wife Peri (Mariana Klaveno), whom Rosie doesn’t know tried to have her deported at the end of last season (after 3 months in federal custody, she’s free while seeking asylum); and Zoila (Judy Reyes) coping with the fact that daughter Valentina (Edy Ganem) had run off to Africa with boss Genevieve’s (Susan Lucci) son Remi (Drew Van Acker), from whom she’d already split by the start of Season 2.  Also still around:  the dissipated Powells (Tom Irwin and Rebecca Winsocky), who had employed Flora as a prostitute as well as a maid, and whose robbery in the season premiere and hiring of guard Tony (new regular Dominic Adams) will presumably lead to plot developments ahead; they’re also Valentina’s new employers.

In the absence of a compelling larger narrative, the individual stories seem more ramshackle and silly than ever, and even worse; there were widespread complaints in Season 1 that the Latina protagonists were limited if not borderline demeaning and offensive, and those criticisms aren’t entirely unfounded, although they ignore the fact that Cherry has always drawn pretty much all his characters that way, regardless of their backgrounds.  Carmen’s part of the premiere had her fighting and then making up with Melinda Page Hamilton’s Odessa, Alejandro’s Teutonic chief housekeeper, for what seemed like the tenth consecutive episode, while Zoila continued to have almost nothing to do besides chide her daughter, and Rosie hasn’t moved past making cow eyes at Spence while worrying what God will think of their sinful relations (even more sinful now that Peri is pretending to be pregnant).  Cherry made similarly threadbare plotlines on Housewives stretch for 9 seasons (Housewives star Eva Longoria is an Executive Producer of Maids and directed the Season 2 premiere), and this show shares the earlier one’s sprightly pace and cheerful approach to what could otherwise be dark plotting.

The cast of Maids gives the show much of its appeal, especially Ortiz, along with the general wish-fulfillment way that the show roots for its underdog heroines over their mostly moronic, selfish, insensitive or downright evil bosses.  Fans of the series may find it easier to skip episodes this season if the scripts continue to have so little story to tell, but Maids should still please the viewers who were happy enough with its work in its first season.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."