Devious Maids, a show that debuts on the Lifetime Network later this month from executive producer Eva Longoria, centers around five Latinas in Beverly Hills who are bonded together by their jobs, their ambitions, their dreams and life struggles. But Longoria and others involved in the show’s production have come under fire for perpetuating certain stereotypes of Latinas.
Longoria says she stands behind the show and doesn’t think that it is the “wasted opportunity” many critics have called it. And Longoria contends that the show actually brings diversity to television by stressing the fact that these women are more than their occupation and that being maids is what they do but isn’t who they are.
Longoria’s statements are all well and good, and it’s easy to make those statements when you are on top of the financial and socio-economic hill looking down at all those poor people who are struggling. But being labeled as nothing more than the maid, gardener or nanny is not something she will ever have to worry about. As a Latina, I find the stated premise of the show condescending but what I actually find even more offensive is the term “devious” being included as the adjective to describe the maids. Now, we have to add “devious” to the list of derogatory adjectives used to describe Latina women?
I’m leaving it to the critics and Longoria to debate whether it is offensive or not to refer to Latinas by stereotypes such as maids, sex kittens, quick-tempered and loud. But as Longoria tries to convince us that the only way to break a stereotype is to embrace it and take away its power, it seems to me that the show, in fact, has created a new stereotype: the Devious Latina.
I think it is awesome that the show will feature an all-Latina lead cast, though I suspect it will be salacious and gratuitous. I guess they figure if ratings success can work for Sofia Vergara on Modern Family it can work for other shows featuring Latinas. You know, I am not offended to be stereotyped with a group of women who are known for being maids and nannies by profession. Why would I be offended to be called hard-working, clean and good with children? I wouldn’t.
But I do get offended when someone tries to sell a show by creating a stereotype that throws an entire race under the bus. For the record, Ms. Longoria, you and the shows other producers are not trying to destroy a stereotype, you are trying to make money by creating a new one. Why else are all the women beautiful, sexy and wearing short French maid costumes in the promo? Let’s not also give the Latina women of the world the added negative stereotype of being devious. If one of the five Latina characters was being portrayed as “devious” but others in other ways, perhaps we could discuss the idea of destroying a stereotype by embracing it. But five out of five?
Even without having watched the show since it hasn’t yet premiered, I do think it’s fair to make this assessment based on the title of the show, and Longoria’s comments and press they’ve received.
What do you find more offensive the maid stereotype or being stereotyped as devious?
Deborah Cruz is the chief creative officer of The TRUTH about Motherhood, a parenting and lifestyle blog where she divulges the brutally honest truth about everything with a lot of passion and a little humor. Her husband always knew she had a feminist streak but since becoming a mommy to her girls, it has become her personal mission to protect the uteruses of all womankind. When she is not Throat Punching people or giving you the low down on parenting, you can also find her freelance writing at Mamas Latinas, Aiming Low, Modern Baby, Everyday Family, Moonfrye and Smart Mom Style. In her “spare” time, she tweets like it is her job @TruthfulMommy and might have a small addiction to Facebook.