Movie & Television Show Reviews

An Inspiring Tale About Resiliency | “Maid” Season 1 (2021) Netflix Series Review

I would like to introduce myself first. I know, I have already reviewed a few books in the blog and so my name may not be unfamiliar. All the same, I would still like you all to know me a little; the main reason being that I am going to be reviewing some shows, series and movies as well and I would prefer that you all understand where I am coming from, with my perspectives and viewpoints regarding any and all I review.

I am an Indian born and brought up in the southern region of India in a regular middle class Indian household. My first exposure to English movies was in my early 20s. Since then I have consumed a lot of English content, particularly from the USA. So, I guess you can imagine, my knowledge and understanding of the pop culture and common tropes referred frequently in the content coming out of USA is almost non-existent.

My sensibilities as a movie-watcher have been molded on a regular dose of Indian cinema — regional language movies at that — and as such, they are more attuned to the song and dance type movies that I grew up on. We also don’t have the type of series and shows, of the format which is common in the western countries, in our satellite/television channels. And so here on, whether it’s going to be a movie or a series review, they are all going to be my opinions based on what I understand about the society and culture the show/movie is built upon. Do look for my reviews if you are someone who is curious what an outsider thinks about content coming out of your side of the world.

Of all the major streaming platforms, Netflix has been the forerunner in terms of the content it puts forth, with very few misses. Drama series “Maid”, created by Molly Smith Metzler, is yet another feather in Netflix’s hat. The series is inspired by a memoir called Maid: Hard work, Low Pay and a Mother’s Will to Survive written by Stephanie Land.

It primarily is the story of Alex Russell, who leaves her abusive boyfriend and tries to make her way in the world, all the while dreaming of providing a good life for her daughter and herself. She navigates the complex legal issues surrounding the custody of her daughter and the many pains of living on government benefits. The fact that emotional abuse is not recognized as domestic violence by the court, as per that State’s law, does not help her either.

She is forced to face one roadblock after another in her bid to be independent and just when she has finally found her footing, they are cut out from under of her.  The circumstances force her to go back and live with her boyfriend and she struggles to find her way again. She finds her will to survive once again and finally learns to find herself and her worth.

Margaret Qualley as Alex has done a phenomenal job of portraying the character’s helplessness and vulnerability early on, her determination to somehow provide the best for her daughter, her despair when she faces hurdle after hurdle, and finally her bid to find herself and regain her confidence. She was very convincing and there were some very brilliant subtle moments in her performance that are praiseworthy.

Nick Robinson as Alex’s boyfriend was a real surprise for me. I actually didn’t recognize him as the same actor who was in the movie Love, Simon; it was a shock to know that sweet boy has transformed into a believably complicated, messed up person in this series. That in itself conveys how terrific his performance was. 

The rest of the actors were all very good as well with a special mention for Andie MacDowell, who played Alex’s mother. She was very convincing as the delusional person with borderline psychological issues, who gets herself into one emotionally abusive relationship after another, not wanting to acknowledge it as abuse.

The story was emotionally disturbing at many places; it touches your heart most often and manages to inspire the audience in the most beautiful way. But what I particularly liked about the show is that it also has layers of messages underneath this seemingly commonplace story. It subtly cast light on the unfairness of the lower-class jobs. It also shows how people in a particular strata of the society tend to look at people living on benefits as leeches rather than the overworked,  underpaid individuals they are, who are living paycheck to paycheck and struggling to get by.

The viewers also get to see what being in an abusive relationship does to a person and the type of courage it takes to get out of it, with a big emphasis on the struggles of keeping afloat after escaping. I went through a gamut of emotions while watching the series and had to watch something light-hearted in between, so as to not get bogged down by the unfairness of it all.

The final episode, however, totally warmed my heart and left me feeling completely inspired. This series hits hard and does not let go that easily. And therein, lies it’s victory.

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