Okay, let me start off by saying I like Eva Longoria. I respect her as an actress and as a co-producer. I think she really needs to re-think what she's really doing before waving her proud Chicana flag and patting herself on the back for having four leading actresses that are Latina women of great acting standards. I mean, it is really amazing that it took someone this long to have a show centered around Latina's lives. If anything I agree with Eva Longoria and her beliefs that more Latina's should be represented, yet I definitely don't agree with her methods. First off, she defends her casting them as maids because their stories need to be told. I agree, but their stories are much better told via documentaries that really cast an honest light on what these Latina (sometimes immigrant) domestic workers go through on a day to day basis. Let's be real for a second. I HIGHLY doubt that Devious Maids would be an enlightening portrayal of Latina domestic workers. It seems that while her goal may be to enlighten her audience, that may not actually be what she accomplishes, and she should keep that in mind. She assumes that her audience has never spoken to a maid on a personal level. Like our mothers, sisters, cousins, aunts or friends aren't maids. You want to tell us their story Eva? How kind of you...but you see, we are not as sheltered as you think we are. So if we already know the story and know to take your show with a grain of salt, the people at the biggest danger of taking away verified stereotypes are non-Latino people. The perceptive ones will just see Devious Maids as entertainment and not read too much into it, however the ones I worry about are the people who like to take mental shortcuts and already have a portfolio of biases against Latinas.
My biggest problem with this concept is while you can explore the depth of a character your playing, be it a maid or a housewife, there are major limitations for Latinas when it comes to the range of characters we are allowed to play. Eva Longoria claims that she's mainly representing reality! Really Eva? En serio? There are also Latina pharmacy clerks, Latina educators, Latina doctors, Latina drug dealers, Latina soccer moms, Latina therapists, Latina lawyers, Latina lesbians, Latina judges ect. I mean, yes, maids and women who work in domestic labor or service work can be awesome complex people. I myself am a woman with aspirations that range from law school to being a bum roaming Paris -writing on paper napkins hoping to one day be the next Sylvia Plath (minus the suicide). There is no way that just because I am a Latina I am going to rejoice simply because there are more Latinas on my television screen. Representation is one thing, how they are being represented is another ball game.
I am very disappointed that the characters that I most identify with are no where near the characters that Latinas play on television. I mean the closest actress I could relate to on a Latina-Latina level would be Gina Torres (a Cubana), specifically for her portrayal of Zoe Warren on Firefly. In this role Gina Torres plays "the First Officer and good right arm of Captain Mal Reynolds, whom she fought with and under in the War against the Alliance." Admittedly Firefly is in a realm of science-fiction, but I am glad that her character is in a position of leadership, power, and respect. Mexican actresses are scare in the English speaking sector of the television realm, yet if I wanted to see a television show about another Mexican maid, I would just turn on Telemundo! It may be a show about the tension of Mexican maids in California, but it's still about a woman of color working for a woman three-four shades lighter than her who can afford to pay her to clean her house. However I am willing to make a compromise. I will watch the show and give it the benefit of the doubt during the pilot, then critique it when if gets me upset or applaud it when it surprises me. Just know Devious Maids, te miro.
[This is my interpretation, take it or leave it. You can argue with me in the comments, or cheer me on! I always welcome a good discussion.]