I just finished watching Maid on Netflix, and I have to say, it is one of the most beautiful, poignant and raw limited series I’ve seen in a while.
Inspired by the memoir of Stephanie Land named Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive, the series follows a young mother Alex, played by Margaret Qualley, who flees her emotionally abusive boyfriend with her daughter and fights for a better life. It depicts the struggles of domestic abuse and poverty, and the trauma that comes with it — the struggle to find work and stay out of poverty, to survive, find shelter, all while facing an indecent system that seems to always fight against her. In just a few episodes, matters along landlords refusing to accept her housing aid, dealing with custody arrangements and navigating a complex relationship with her undiagnosed bipolar mother are just a few of the subjects dealt with, to name.
This was my first time seeing Qualley in a role and, despite the sensitive subject matter, her performance has made the show easy to watch. Moments of lightheartedness — such as her friendship with a woman Danielle whom she meets in a domestic violence shelter, and the unexpected friendship she makes with “the cunt house” client Regina (whom she even steals her dog) — help ground the story and offer up multi-dimensional storylines and characters whose stories are far from straightforward.
“My happiest day hasn’t happened yet but it’s about to.”
“They don’t know what it took to get here. Three hundred and thirty-eight toilets cleaned, seven types of government assistance, nine separate moves, one night on the ferry station floor and the entire third year of my daughter’s life.”
Qualley’s performance as Alex left such a memorable impression on me. Her undeniable candidness and grounding performance lent humanity to her role. Through every choice and mistake she makes, we understand and forgive her — her pride in not getting help, in expecting more of herself or her mother or her husband, in judging her rich clients and her falling victim to wanting romantic support, to even falling victim to gaslighting and emotional abuse.
The raw strength Alex has to continue through it all and move forward with her life is one of the most beautiful things about this series, and the writers don’t sugarcoat the struggle it takes to get there. Qualley makes it seem as if she’s genuinely responding, reacting, and feeling to the events that happen to her in this show, as she cleans up after and finds her way through the mess of all the people who’ve come before her.
Maid is honest, heartfelt, and told with a lot of fervor. It’s a beautiful miniseries about the perseverance and resilience of one woman making it through all these troubles — something I’ve come to admire in many single women and mothers I know today. And all the positive critical acclaim this show has been receiving seems well-deserved.
As said by The Guardian: “The detail, the tenderness, the authenticity, the brilliant performances make the whole thing both a compelling drama and a potent testimony to the suffering of too many.”
And to anecdote one of my favorite moments from the show: “Don’t ever let anybody take advantage of you. Make you feel less than for all of your hard work.“
“People keep weird things in their drawers.“
“Maybe when you live in a house that big, you lose yourself in it.“