TV Review: Netflix`s “Maid” (2021)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Domestic violence has been an issue in many countries. In most cases, the woman never makes out alive. There is no point arguing about it because I came from a country where women have no right to say a word in front of a man. And when that man is her spouse, she better shut her mouth, cook dinner, clean up the house and ignore the husband’s dozens of adultery. And, for God’s sake, if she decides to pack her stuff and leave home with her child, if any, she will be killed while the husband will walk away free. However, apart from the physical, there is emotional abuse. A kind of abuse that does not need a man to lay his hand on his partner because he uses a different technique, and one of them is intimidation.

“Maid” is Netflix’s new mini-series based on Montana-based Stephanie Land, who wrote her memoir Maid: Hard work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive in 2019. It follows Alex (played by the incredibly talented Margaret Qualley), who, after being emotionally and financially abused by her partner, Sean (Nick Robinson), abruptly takes her daughter Maddy (Rylea Nevaeh Whittet) and leaves home. Her journey towards the better is just the beginning. But it’s the hardship of poverty, cleaning jobs and seven different types of government assistance she must deal with to build a better future for her daughter and herself.

When the show started, we find Sean heavily breathing, and fast asleep, while an awake Alex slowly is getting up, as she is about to make a life-changing decision. As she passes through the bedroom, she carefully tries not to step on broken glasses. We don’t know much about what happened before, but seeing the surroundings, one can paint the image of an ugly evening that resulted in Alex’s sudden decision. Alone, with no money, job or shelter, the woman goes to the social assistance office. When she was asked whether if she is a victim of domestic abuse, Alex replies, not really. Because I was not beaten up, which makes me not qualify as a victim of DV (Domestic Violence).

What I liked about the show is the dynamic between Alex and her client, Regina (Anika Noni Rose), who becomes our hero towards the end. But in the beginning, be ready to despise her as much as you can. Because she gives you all the opportunities to dislike her. The chemistry between Margaret Qualley and Andie Macdowell was so brilliant, they could have been mother and daughter in real life. That’s what you would say once you see them acting together. However, to my greatest surprise, they are actually mother-and-daughter in real life, which kind of explains why the two worked well together.

As for the great and incomparable Andie MacDowell, it was nice seeing her leave her comfort zone by recreating a mentally unstable artist who suffers from mental illness and yet is a very happy woman. Her Paula suffers inside. Her heart bleeds and the soul screams, but above the surface, she is a charming happy woman you would not mind sharing a meal with. As for Nick Robinson’s Sean, the actor did an amazing job by delivering a truthful and believable performance as a violent partner, alcoholic and out of control man. Yet charming, wicked and adorable, when he tries to rebuild his relationship with Alex, in the end, to break her heart all over again.

What this show captures is that once there is a shout, scream, and anger, and violence at home, it always tends to escalate. If today, a victim of a man`s strong fist is a wall, tomorrow it can be the face of a woman he claims to love. One step at a time, the man turns into a beast and the woman into a helpless creature. Those kinds of scenes you should be prepared to see in “Maid” and much more.

To conclude, nothing is so hopeless in “Maid”. Alex is strong and knows what she needs. She is ready to fight for the full custody of her child. At some point, Alex creates hope for herself, an opportunity through her hard work and strong will that dictates her next step so eloquently. The story tackles many aspects of a middle-class family in the United States, but the story is familiar with any part of the planet. Because poverty is poverty everywhere. Domestic violence of any kind has no boundaries and does not care how much money its victim has in their bank account. It`s like cancer that keeps spreading in the vein of society that is truly bleeding.

Having that said, “Maid” shows that fear can be defeated. The strong can be weakened. The weak can stand on their feet and fight back. There is always a happy ending. Do we have to clean up a bunch of toilets? Deal with clients that would not bother knowing your name. Perhaps. But it’s the end result that matters. To turn life from existing into living free of violence, intimidation, abuse and attacks.

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