'Devious Maids' show criticized for promoting Latina stereotypes

By KATE STANTON, UPI.com  |  June 20, 2013 at 8:15 PM
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Lifetime's "Devious Maids," a comedy-drama created by "Desperate Housewives'" Marc Cherry and co-produced by Eva Longoria, doesn't premiere until this Sunday, but the show's subject matter has already riled up critics who say it perpetuates negative stereotypes about Latinas.

Longoria, who also starred in "Desperate Housewives," even penned a blog defending the show against a Tanisha L. Ramirez op-ed calling "Devious Maids" a "wasted opportunity."

"The series is the first mainstream, English-language television drama featuring five Latina main characters, which is -- for better or for worse -- a novel concept even in this day and age," Ramirez wrote. "Not novel, however, is the fact that all -- count 'em, all! -- of the main characters play "devious" maids."

"The only way to break a stereotype is to not ignore it," Longoria responded.

The stereotype we are grappling with here is that as Latinas, all we are is maids. And yet, this is a show that deconstructs the stereotype by showing us that maids are so much more.

Cherry told Access Hollywood this week that he knew the show would be controversial.

“I always knew there would be controversy with the show, but I also knew that working with Eva Longoria, we were going to treat these characters like gold,” he said.

“I think we’ve done five super positive portrayals of Latina women who are both devious and smart but have dreams of their own and are pursuing them with all the gusto in the world,” he added.

"I'm not the authority of Latinos," Longoria, who holds a master's degree in Chicano studies, told E!

"But I definitely have a perspective that Marc respects and I'm a very big advocate in my community and so I'm happy to contribute in that way," she said.

Stars of the show have also defended its premise, saying that people should see "Devious Maids" before criticizing it.

"Honestly, my first reaction was not unlike the blowback we're getting," Ana Ortiz, who plays Marisol, told the Los Angeles Times.

I understand where people are coming from because, as a Latina and being in this business as long as I have, I was like 'Really? Devious Maids? What, are we all going to be called Maria? But it was a show from Marc Cherry, who I respect greatly, so I resisted the urge to write it off completely.

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