So a lot has been made and said about Eva Longoria’s latest project, the television series Devious Maids. The show hasn’t even aired and already the consensus seems to be that either people hate it or they are bracing for the best considering the subject matter. That subject matter being the fact that Devious Maids is a show produced by a Latina about Latinas who just so happen to be cast as housemaids on the show. ¡Ay Dios mio! I know!
I’m being sarcastic here on purpose.
It’s not that I am trying to make any less of the argument that Latinos should be cast in other roles besides the help. I agree. Or of the one that maybe Longoria as an A- or B-listed actress and producer should have reneged any offers to have any of her projects green-light that would have required any Latino actors and/or actresses to play any roles lesser than that of a lawyer or a doctor. I forget, what is the threshold of acceptable blue and/or white collar jobs for Latinos to play on screen these days? ¿Cómo que se me fue la onda? And who knows, maybe she should have. She could have probably saved herself a lot of headaches and bad press. Only last year she seemed to be the darling of so many in the Latino community for encouraging our comunidad to vote for Obama.
That was SO 2012, I guess.
The thing is, as someone who actually grew up with parents and siblings who were “the help,” and who still has family members and friends who “play this role” in their everyday lives I can’t quite wrap my head around the level of indignation being expressed about anyone producing a primetime show about Latina maids. Why? Why is it so insulting for us to consider that maybe giving these roles more than simply a one dimensional glance over on-and-off-screen between non-Lationo lead characters on a non-Latino show could maybe, just maybe, not be so awful… or the end of Latinos on mainstream entertainment projects forever? Why not at least give the show a chance?
Could a well developed three dimensional character – or four of them in the case of Devious Maids – be so entirely devastating to our entire community? I don’t know for sure. But I think not.
I would have loved to have had a show like this to watch as a kid growing up. How cool would it not have been to have been exposed to humor and lighthearted entertainment about the humdrum life of being a roofer, or say a nanny, or a maintenance worker? Oh wait, I was exposed to that humor and lighthearted entertainment. Only it happened in my family at barbecues and fiestas when everyone was just hanging around having a good time with one another. We never looked at my parent’s jobs or their friend’s jobs as subservient or undeserving of any attention at all. Those jobs paid the bills, put us through school, clothed us, fed us, and even kept the lights on for us to be able to catch snippets of ourselves and our lifestyle on poorly executed and short lived television series like South Central. Paul Rodriguez did a way better job of representing who we were and where we were in life back then. And he did it by talking about the many things that just happened to be realities in our culture.
Are we missing something? Do Latinos no longer accept jobs beneath a certain level? And those who do, are they any less representative of our community than those of us who happen to have a college degree or who are Ms. Eva Longoria?
I’ve yet to see any pilot episodes or to receive any advance screening invitations from anyone. I’m not interested in getting them either. And once the show actually starts airing, it could be that I may hate it too. I’m just not ready to jump to any conclusions about how awful or insulting it might be. About Longoria, I’m not a fan. I never watched her on Desperate Housewives and none of the projects she has done since then have really captured my attention. Beside the fact that she recently earned her master’s degree in Chicano studies from Cal State Northridge.
Kudos to you for that, Eva!
Still. As a son, a brother, a cousin, a nephew, an in law, and a friend to people who just so happen not to be doctors and lawyers in life I want to at least root for this show in the hopes that it will finally breathe some new air into the old stigma of being cast in these roles. Call me stupid, but I’m hoping Longoria can make us all proud.