Review: ‘MAID’ pulls the privileged into an unknown, humbling world

Photo courtesy of Netflix

By Rachel Royster | News Editor

All day, everyday we experience privilege, sometimes only in the smallest form of a stranger acknowledging you with a smile. Those in poverty don’t always get such a privilege, and “MAID” is your chance to be pulled into the life most choose to ignore.

In Netflix’s new show, Alex Russell escapes an abusive relationship, gripping her daughter, Maddy, close to find a safer life for them, even when that means bouncing between shelters and counting every penny as the money in her pocket dwindles. Alex is constantly choosing between the lesser of two evils that life is chucking her way with one goal: to survive.

The young mother finds herself in the only job she can get — as a maid, cleaning other people’s messes while she is desperate to sort out the mess that is her life. The work makes her physically sick to her stomach, but it’s all she can do to put a roof over Maddy’s head.

The 10-episode miniseries is based on Stephanie Land’s memoir written in 2019 as a way to show others struggling that they’re not alone. The show premiered Friday, starring Margaret Qualley as Alex, Nick Robinson as the abusive boyfriend, Sean, Andie MacDowell, Raymond Ablack, Anika Noni Rose and more.

In the show, Alex and her mother Paula are played by real-life mother and daughter Qualley and MacDowell respectively, connecting authentic emotion to their on-screen roles. Qualley further portrays Alex to harness the raw and sometimes infuriating struggle between a single mom and a society built against her success.

“MAID” touches on heavy topics like domestic violence, poverty and family struggles with honesty and humility. These topics don’t get talked about enough, but by creating a show that highlights the problems our society increasingly ignores, we are taking a step in the right direction.

This show has changed the way I appreciate the privileges I have. Instead of calling out the privileges that most people talk about like race or gender (both of which are important), the writers and directors of “MAID” force the audience to look at the other side of the coin and empathize with those people rather than glance, avoid eye contact and drive away. Instead of simply seeing Alex’s life now as a single mom working tirelessly to have enough change to buy a dollar store mermaid for her 3-year-old, you are given the chance to see her story and how Alex and Maddy ended up in the halfway house living next door to ex-cons.

This weekend, step out of your comfort zone, skip the mindless TV and instead of avoiding eye contact, glare straight into the face of reality with “MAID.”