IN TWEET: MARC CHERRY’S FOLLOW-UP TO “DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES” LANDS ON LIFETIME…WITH A RESOUNDING THUD.
There’s been more than a little anger directed at DEVIOUS MAIDS, which debuts on June 23rd. Most of it has come from Latino journalists and bloggers who, it should be noted, passed judgment on the series before they actually saw a full episode (note: basing your entire opinion of a series on a teaser trailer is not responsible journalism).
I’m not going to jump into a debate that will be a losing battle for a white guy, no matter how I weigh in. I will say, however, that this new Lifetime original is a major disappointment on just about every level. It’s simply too dull and lifeless to be offensive to anyone.
I was one of those viewers who stuck with DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES from pilot through series finale (yes, even that dreadful second season for which Alfre Woodard is owed an eternity of apologies). When the show was firing on all cylinders, it was a smart, brutally funny pleasure. When the writers got lazy or lost interest (which happened often), DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES devolved into an infuriatingly silly mess. Still, it was never boring. The same can’t be said for DEVIOUS MAIDS, Marc Cherry’s flaccid follow=up to HOUSEWIVES.
The show was originally pitched as a pilot for the 2012/13 season on ABC. When the network passed, ABC Studios shopped DEVIOUS MAIDS to cable and Lifetime took the bait. It’s a fitting match. Second rate basic cable network provides a safe harbor for a rejected also-ran. I’m not sure how much cost-cutting was involved to get the show ready for Lifetime but, DEVIOUS MAIDS looks cheap and is devoid of all but the most rudimentary production flourishes. In other words, it will fit right in at the network (just go to the poorly conceived series website for a preview of the crap-level quality).
The haphazard, listless script opens at a fancy Hollywood party where a maid is murdered and what I assume to be the season-long mystery gets underway. Who killed the maid and why? Who cares? It’s just one of numerous plot points that are dropped in our laps and lay there gasping for life. The talented cast includes Ana Ortiz, Judy Reyes, Susan Lucci, Grant Show and Brett Cullen. All are wasted, especially Ortiz and Lucci.
There are a couple of stand-out moments that point to some signs of life but they don’t carry enough weight to hook you or make you want to come back for a second helping. If only there were more scenes like the excruciatingly poignant phone conversation between Rosie (nicely played by Dania Ramirez) and her son, trapped in Mexico thanks to our immigrations laws, or the crackerjack dinner party in which Marisol (played by Ortiz, the exceptional and underappreciated UGLY BETTY vet) verbally bitch-slaps a gate-crashing ex-wife.
There is a minor twist at the end involving Marisol but it is telegraphed too far in advance and staged in the same clunky manner as most of the stuff that precedes it. I like Cherry and the cast and wish them the best of luck with DEVIOUS MAIDS. It’s just too bad the series isn’t the out-of-the-gate creative success that all involved certainly deserve.
RONTHINK RATING: C-