June 24, 2013



DEVIOUS MAIDS:  Sunday 10PM on Lifetime – If Nothing Else Is On…

Technically, DEVIOUS MINDS isn’t a spin-off of Desperate Housewives–there are no significant shared characters or storylines.  But Maids, like Housewives, hails from writer Marc Cherry, and it follows the Housewives tone and pattern so closely that it often feels like at any moment, Bree or Lynette might stop by.  (In addition to Cherry and much of the same production staff, Eva Longoria is an Executive Producer of Maids, although pilot director Paul McGuigan is a newcomer to the team.)

Devious Maids, as a series, may be more different from the pilot than is usually the case, for reasons more financial than creative.  The pilot was originally produced for ABC, and when that network passed, Lifetime picked up the project.  But cable budgets aren’t the same as those on broadcast networks, and Maids will be shot in Georgia instead of Los Angeles (where the show takes place), which will probably give the series a more soundstage-y look than the pilot has.  Still, there’s no reason to believe Lifetime wants to change the core of the show.

Maids has the familiar mix of broad humor and melodrama that we know from Wisteria Lane, this time transposed to Beverly Hills.  Just as in the Housewives pilot, there’s even a mysterious death to kick things off.  The main innovation in Maids seems to stem from Cherry having seen The Help, so the action is framed from the point of view of the domestics who keep these wealthy households running.  Carmen (Roselyn Sanchez) works for a coked-up pop star, and hopes to get her own demo heard so she can start a music career.  Zoila (Judy Reyes) and her daughter Valentina (Edy Ganem) toil for the Delacourts, Genevieve (Susan Lucci) and more importantly Remi (Drew Van Acker), on whom Valentina has fixed her blossoming sexuality despite Mama’s weary advice to stay away.  Rosie (Dania Ramirez) raises the baby of the monstrous Davises (Grant Show and Mariana Klaveno), even as she suffers from having left her own son behind in Mexico.  And Marisol (Ana Ortiz), while working for the Stappords (Brett Cullen and Brianna Brown), secretly has a connection to the maid murdered in service to the Powells (Tom Irwin and Rebecca Wisocky), who had been just about to reveal the couple’s secrets.  Marisol’s determination to find out what really happened will presumably be the backbone of the series’ initial arc.

You don’t look for subtlety from a Marc Cherry show, and Maids makes The Help seem like it had an Updike-ian level of nuance.  The women’s employers are harridans or fools, and the maids are divided into the younger women who heave their bosoms in their bosses’ direction when they want something, and the older ones who practically go Ay-yi-yi when they contemplate the silliness around them.  Nevertheless, the show echoes the style of Housewives, and at its best it’s fast-paced, breezy and moderately diverting.

Devious Maids may not have worked for ABC, but Lifetime made a smart decision going after the show, which should fit well with its other scripted 1-hours.  Cherry has demonstrated the ability to keep a serialized show hopping for multiple seasons, and the loose framework of Maids will allow for plenty of new storylines and characters as time goes on.  It could, pardon the expression, clean up.

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."