Review: “Maid,” Netflix’s best new drama


Matthew Marsh , Reporter

One of my favorite things to do getting home is getting relaxed, and turning on a good show. One of my favorite feelings is finding a good drama to sit down and watch getting home. One of my favorite new dramas I’ve found is Netflix’s mini-series, “Maid.”

“Maid” is a beautifully told tale in which we see an adult woman and her daughter run away from home after being victim to domestic abuse, and we both fight their way through mountains of poverty and systemic red tape. As the story progresses, and things continuously get better for our characters, I find myself completely immersed in the story. I couldn’t stop watching. 

Spoiler warning; The show is best watched blind, so be cautious reading further. 

“Maid” is a Netflix original mini-series created by Molly Smith Motzler. The premise of the show is about a woman, Alex, who after experiencing an act of domestic violence, runs away with her daughter and moves into a homeless shelter, finding a job as a maid. 

The show stars Margaret Qualley as Alex; Qualley’s real life mother, Andie MacDowell as Paula, Alex’s mother; Nick Robinson as Sean, Alex’s abusive boyfriend; Anika Noni Rose as Regina, the woman that Alex cleans for; Tracy Vilar as Yolanda, Alex’s boss; Billy Burke as Hank, Alex’s father; and child actress Rylea Nevaeh Whitt/et as Maddy, Alex’s daughter. 

“Maid” is based off of the book “Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive,” by Stephanie Land. The book was originally written as an elaboration on an essay also published by land, titled “I Spent 2 Years Cleaning Houses. What I Saw Makes Me Never Want to Be Rich.” 

In the essay and book, Land writes about her experience as a poor maid cleaning wealthy clients’ homes, and in doing so learning their habits and secrets. This is also a plot explored in the show, in the form of Alex writing about secrets in the form of poetry and creative writing. 

After the book’s publication in 2019, it became an instant success, even making no.3 on the New York Times nonfiction best seller list. The book also received tons of exceptionally good reviews, including one from Barack Obama. Obama described it as “a single mother‘s personal, unflinching look at America’s class divide, a description of the tightrope many families walk just to get by, and a reminder of the dignity of all work.” 

Netflix’s depiction of Maid focuses on the segment of Land’s life where she lived in Poverty, and relied almost completely on government welfare programs. In an interview with Vox, Land mentioned that one of the more frustrating parts of relying on welfare to provide for her and her daughter were trying to get the right requirements for Child Care Grants, something which she needed to have to work. This situation is similarly depicted in the first episode, in which Alex has trouble finding a job because she doesn’t have government provided daycare, but cannot qualify for it without a job.

One of “Maid’s” most unique aspects are Alex’s mental tallies concerning her budget. Every time she buys something, loses money, or works for more money, the counter goes up and down on the side of the screen. These tallies are also relative to Land’s experiences in poverty, as they act as a depiction of how Land kept track of her expenses. “​​I remember very specifically standing in the grocery store aisle. I really needed to buy a sponge, and I was trying to think, ‘How much money do I have on my credit card balance?’”

In addition to the unique tally system, “Maid” has some of the most well-written and acted characters I’ve ever seen in a TV show. It’s very easy to get attached to characters in this show, even the ones who do wrong by Alex. 

There’s an entire plot over a couple of episodes where Alex has to resort to using Sean’s help to track down her mother’s boyfriend that scammed her and ran away with her money. After they find Alex’s mother, Alex and Sean get back together, and Sean begins to control her again. They’re a touching few episodes, because you even start to root for Sean, and the writing really makes you believe that he’s changed, and then he turns again.                   

The show also perfectly executed good character development, in the form of Regina, Alex’s client. In the first and second episodes, Regina refuses to pay Alex for the hard work she did, and there’s an entire plot in which Alex steals her dog to get the money. It’s a frustrating series of events as the watcher, and it really makes you hate Regina. We have to watch Alex and her 2 year-old daughter sleep on the floor of a ferry station in an attempt to get the money. As Alex continues to clean for Regina, we dive so much deeper into Regina’s character, and overtime she becomes much better and more friendly as a person than when we first met her. 

One of my favorite aspects of the show is Alex’s mom, Paula. Paula has (undiagnosed) bipolar disorder, and her character is by far my favorite. It’s hard to root for her sometimes, but her character is one that I find myself feeling really sympathetic for. Out of every character in the show, hers is the character that I resonated with the most. Her plot was the most interesting to me, her character was incredibly unique, and I found myself enjoying the show more in the segments she was in.

“Maid” also does such a good job in creating a good relationship between characters, and portrays a mother-daughter relationship beautifully, in the form of Alex’s relationship with Maddy, her daughter in the show. From the opening scenes of the show as Alex runs away with Maddy, you can already tell that their relationship together is incredibly strong. The constant upward battle across all the episodes in a fight to just do what’s right for Maddy, apart from being the basis of the show, was one that was done beautifully. Many shows’ core values just aren’t executed well, but “Maid’s” plot is one of the best I’ve seen. 

The ending is also done amazingly, and I feel wraps up so many things perfectly. Alex, after escaping Sean again, is finally given full custody of Maddy, and together they move to Missoula, Montana, where Alex got into college. Alex got in, not only with the help of Regina’s technology, but with her incredible creative writing skills. Missoula was also where Land went to college, after she wrote about the houses she cleaned as a maid, a plot that was also explored in the show.

Overall, “Maid” is an amazing watch, and one that is well worth it if you have Netflix and are looking for new shows.