On Friday, Oct. 1, Netflix released the highly anticipated “Maid,” a miniseries based on the New York Times bestseller by the same name.
The opening scene introduces the audience to Alex (Margaret Qualley) lying awake in bed as she contemplates an escape plan from Sean (Nick Robinson), who had punched a hole in the wall of their mobile home the night prior. She quietly gathers her things and her two-year old daughter, Maddy (Rylea Nevaeh Whittet), and sets out for a new life. Soon after, Alex picks up a last resort job as a house cleaner in an attempt to bring in an income.
Throughout the series, we are privy to the harsh realities of living in abject poverty. Car accidents, custody battles and money troubles frequent themselves in Alex’s chaotic life. Early in the second episode, our main character finds herself in a women’s shelter, housed with other survivors of domestic abuse. The entire show gives a testament to the hardships that abuse survivors endure, as we see flashbacks to Alex’s experiences throughout. “Maid” has the kind of familiar pain embedded in its episodes that many shows struggle to achieve. Being based upon a memoir allows the audience to subject themselves to a kind of lived-in experience. The events in the show are all based upon reality, which makes the scenes of pain and abuse even harder to watch.
A tearjerker on all fronts, “Maid” is a series that will without a doubt be circulating the media world come awards season. Qualley’s performance as “Alex” is a far cry from her previous roles, allowing her to express a more serious side to her acting. The audience gains a firsthand account into the struggle young mothers in poverty face. Robinson also delivers a shocking execution of his character, the angry and abusive Sean. Both actors explode onto the scene with poignant emotion. Andie MacDowell also gives a comedic showing as the bipolar neurotic Paula, the eccentric mother of Alex. The production team of the series is stacked as well, with Margot Robbie of DC Comic’s “Suicide Squad” listed as a primary producer. Without a doubt, “Maid” is one of the shining triumphs of the 2021 media season.
What first could be seen as a monotonous 10 hour struggle, upon a deeper watch, the viewer becomes incredibly invested in the story. With every victory Alex has, the audience rejoices. With every misfortune, they feel for her emotionally. The series employs the joys of episodic television to tell a story perfectly woven together throughout its 10 episodes. The emotions are real. Raw. You both struggle and succeed with the protagonist, a goal that many television series fail to achieve. The show tells stories of mental illness, addiction and the bootstraps mentality that many in poverty struggle with. It is one of the few series that gets the pain of domestic violence right – allowing enough truth into the issue without dramatizing it. A touching tale of generational trauma, self-advocacy and love, “Maid” is certainly a series that will please for many months to come.