For hire: (from left) Roselyn Sanchez, Edy Ganem, Ana Ortiz, Dania Ramirez and Judy Reyes are the stars of Devious Maids.
Marc Cherry employs desperate measures to look for another hit show.
I WAS a huge fan of Desperate Housewives up until it finished its run in 2012. So you can imagine my excitement when I heard creator Marc Cherry was coming up with a new show, sporting an oh-so-juicy title, Devious Maids.
Based on a Mexican TV series, and no doubt with influences from Desperate Housewives, the series centres on the lives of five maids scrubbing and cleaning the posh, opulent homes of Beverly Hills, California. But of course, things are not as they seem.
The first season revolves around the mysterious murder of the young and beautiful help, Flora Hernandez (Paula Garces). In the pilot, she dramatically bursts through a second-storey window and falls into a swimming pool in the middle of a posh dinner party.
The mystery begins to unravel with the arrival of the show’s lead character, Marisol Duarte (Ana Ortiz). She befriends a close-knit group of maids comprising Carmen Luna (Roselyn Sanchez) who harbours hope of being a singer, Rosie Falta (Dania Ramirez) who longs to bring her son over from Mexico and the quarrelsome mother-daughter team Zoila (Judy Reyes) and Valentina Diaz (Edy Ganem).
By the end of Episode One, we discover what brings Marisol to the neighbourhood. A waiter at the dinner party, with a bloody knife in hand, was arrested for allegedly killing Flora, who as it turns out ... is Marisol’s son.
Determined to prove his innocence, Marisol puts on an apron and places herself strategically as a maid in an insightful household to scour for evidence.
As the series progresses, we learn more about the secrets that these homeowners keep behind the heavy, mahogany doors of their lavish homes, with the help of these maids of course.
At first glance, it seems there’s plenty of similarities between both of Cherry’s creations. They both start with a mysterious death. They both feature an (attractive) all-female cast. And they both have plenty of dirty laundry to air. But that’s where the similarities end.
Devious Maids, unfortunately, is a poor man’s version of Desperate Housewives ... at best. First up, the series has little depth. Yes, I’m fully aware that I’m comparing it to a show that owes some of its success to the barrage of scantily clad housewives and half-naked handymen prancing around in it.
But beyond that, Desperate Housewives explores hard-hitting, everyday issues such as divorce, cancer, abortion, to name a few.
To be fair, Devious Maids does shed light on life as an immigrant and life as a single mother plus the disparity between the upper and lower class but there are only so many times you can play those cards.
Most of the time, we’re looking at affairs, unrequited love and, err, some strange fetishes. There is also little emphasis on friendship between the girls, at this point.
Also, the show just isn’t relatable. For starters, these helps look way too glamorous to be helps. Even in their (figure-hugging) uniforms, they look more like seductresses than anything.
The show has also courted controversy for employing an all-Latino cast, stereotyping the Hispanic community in the United States. Helps come in all shapes, sizes and races.
Devious Maids also feels cheesy mostly because the cast has a tendency to overact. There’s a lot of gaping jaws and harden gazes, what with daytime soap opera queen Susan Lucci joining the cast as a divorcee looking for her seventh husband.
The only thing the show has going for it (though by no means should be regarded as a redeeming quality) is leading lady Ortiz who manages to pull off playing a dramatic role following her stint in Ugly Betty as Betty’s nosy sister, Hilda.
Perhaps, it’s unfair to pit Devious Maids with Desperate Housewives but it’s hard not to. After all, they are both from the same creator. I expected another Desperate Housewives but even if it fell short, at the very least, I expect to see something with a little more heart.
Devious Maids airs every Tuesday at 9.40pm on Star World (Astro Ch 711). Forward your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.