Film works as a medium for us to use as a form of escape, allowing us to drift off into a world different from our own, so that we may have a brief reprieve from our normal lives. Stories that detail hard, gritty facts of life are less often sought out for viewing pleasure, and yet Netflix’s new limited drama series, “Maid” seems to have done that very thing by drawing in 67 million Netflix viewers since its debut on Oct. 1.
Based on Stephanie Land’s best-selling memoir, “Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive,” “Maid” follows main character Alex, portrayed by the extraordinary Hollywood breakout star Margaret Qualley — who you may also recognize from her a small role in Quentin Tarantino’s 2019 film “Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood.”
Alex is a single mother escaping her abusive boyfriend, Sean, who is portrayed by “Love Simon’s” Nick Robinson. She takes up a job as a cleaning maid for affluent families in the Pacific Northwest in order to make ends meet and create a better life for her three-year-old daughter, Maddy, all while attempting to navigate life as a young adult and care for her mentally ill mother Paula, played by Andie MacDowell ( Qualley’s real life mother).
Along the way, the audience is given a truthful (if slightly simplified) account of what life is like for American citizens living on the welfare system. We are given a close look into life inside of a domestic violence shelter, the long and arduous process of obtaining custody of a child in court, how single mothers are often villainized by society, the effects of alcoholism on individuals and their families, mental illness and, most importantly, the lasting impact of generational trauma.
These topics may sound bleak and uncomfortable, but have more than obviously struck a chord with millions of viewers who have fallen in love with this series and its cast of well developed characters, most noticeably Margaret Qualley’s Alex.
Qualley’s portrayal of the main character is nothing short of phenomenal, as she brings not only depth but humor to the show, the environment of which may be hard to consume at times. Throughout the series, Alex’s most important character traits are her unwavering stubbornness and loyalty. She is propelled throughout the duration of the series by an intense desire to keep her young daughter happy, and to secure a stable living situation for the two of them.
Qualley’s acting is the main draw of the show, as she portrays Alex as relatable and likeable, while also being deeply flawed. There is never a point in the show where you aren’t compelled to root for this young woman, even when it seems as if she will never make it out of her unstable living situation.
All in all, Netflix’s newest drama series is an eye-opener. It has opened up the door for conversations on so many sensitive topics, and has given others with a similar story to Alex a face on the screen that they can relate to.
Although at times “Maid” is not always realistic, (it is a fictionalized account of a real story after all) it is always positive for new stories to be told, giving us all the chance to take a look around and see outside of our own small worlds and understand what life is like for others.
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