San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec




San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Review: ‘MAID’ depicts a stressful life with little hope of escape

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Ricardo Hubbs/NETFLIX © 2021
“MAID” (L to R) Margaret Qualley as Alex in episode 101 of “MAID.”

Netflix’s new miniseries “MAID” will take you on an emotional rollercoaster you won’t want to get off of. 

The show follows Alex Russell (played by Margaret Qualley), a single mother who is emotionally abused by her alcoholic boyfriend. On one particular night, Sean (played by Nick Robinson) comes home drunk and lashes out on Alex. Having had enough of Sean’s abuse, Alex decides to leave him and take their daughter with her. With nowhere to go, Alex and her daughter sleep on ferry station floors, domestic abuse shelters and in trailer parks. 

Alex reaches out to her mom Paula (played by Andie MacDowell) who has undiagnosed bipolar disorder, to help out with taking care of her daughter. Interestingly enough, Andie MacDowell is Margaret Qualley’s mother in real life. It is exciting to watch them play mother and daughter on screen because they have so much real-life chemistry. While Alex deals with her mother, she is also struggling with her relationship with her ex-abusive alcoholic father Hank (played by Billy Burke). Everything in Alex’s life is very unstable throughout the show but what stays consistent is her job as a maid. Being a maid shows Alex a glimpse into the lives of people with money and stability – something she desperately longs for.

“MAID” is adapted from the book “Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay and a Mother’s Will to Survivewritten by Stephanie Land. Land wrote this book about a point in her life when she worked as a maid while trying to escape a mentally abusive relationship and provide for her daughter. Many of the scenes in the TV show reflect Land’s experiences listed in her book. 

Molly Smith Metzler, a writer for shows such as “Orange is the New Black” and “Shameless,” is an executive producer and creator of “MAID.” Metzler shared her personal relationship to the story in an interview with Collider

I know a lot about this subject,” Metzler told Collider. “That’s why I was drawn to it. Writers latch onto things that we can put ourselves into, and these are all subjects that I know a lot about.” 

She said in that same interview that her passion for the subject of emotional abuse made her extremely careful on how she wanted to portray the character Sean on screen. 

“MAID” (L to R) Margaret Qualley as Alex, Rylea Nevaeh Whittet as Maddy, and Andie Macdowell as Paula in episode 110 of “MAID.”
“MAID” (L to R) Margaret Qualley as Alex, Rylea Nevaeh Whittet as Maddy, and Andie Macdowell as Paula in episode 110 of “MAID.” (Ricardo Hubbs/NETFLIX © 2021)

“I thought about how bad guys don’t have twisting mustaches,” Metzler told Collider. “They don’t look like villains. They look like Nick Robinson.” 

Other producers include Margot Robbie through her production company LuckyChap Productions. Robbie explains in an interview with Porter why they chose to take on this project, “The book is incredible and it’s part of the reason we wanted to make this project,” Robbie told Porter. “It’s important to recognize all the shortfalls in the [welfare] system and how it’s really set up to not help people get out of it, but it still felt hopeful.” 

The characters in this show were all extremely complex. For starters, Alex is an incredibly strong young woman who lives in constant fear of not being able to provide for her daughter. Throughout the show, she unpacks a lot of childhood trauma and realizes why she put up with an abuser all these years. Sean is a good-looking guy who has a friendly exterior but is fighting with inner demons and past traumas leading him to be an alcoholic and an abusive partner and father. 

During the show, it’s hard not to root for Sean despite his demons because he makes the audience want him to get better in order to be a good dad. Alex’s mom, Paula who is undiagnosed bipolar, is very free-spirited which leads her to be a very flaky person, someone who Alex finds it hard to rely on. Although she is a bit out of the ordinary, she is very loving and shows Alex that she would do anything for her and her granddaughter. 

Alex’s Dad, Hank seems to be a helpful father that got disconnected from his daughter’s life but it turns out that there is more to Hank than meets the eye. Much like Sean, he presents himself as a friendly person but Alex soon realizes her father, too, has demons. Alex also ends up crossing paths with a homeowner named Regina (played by Anika Noni Rose) while cleaning her house. At first, Regina is very high maintenance and doesn’t do as much as a glance in Alex’s direction to acknowledge her presence but she soon becomes a lot more complex than we first believe her to be. 

“MAID” is a show that is hard to watch in the best way possible. While on the subject of emotional abuse, it has the power to make you laugh and cry. It shows the audience that extreme poverty is similar to a large hole that is nearly impossible to crawl out of. “MAID” is a show that will keep you thinking about these realistic topics and circumstances that people are living in today. 

About the Contributor
Grace Brady
Grace Brady is a junior majoring in political science with a minor in television, film and new media from Chicago. Her interests include public policy, film, reading and writing. She can easily be found watching New Girl, a historical film or listening to Harry Styles. Follow her on Twitter @gracebrady123.
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San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
Review: ‘MAID’ depicts a stressful life with little hope of escape