Maid (2021) | TV Review
by Megan Donoher
After finishing Squid Game in one weekend, I was pessimistic to believe that anything could come close. Any description of Maid threatens to sound unremittingly bleak. It isn’t one that promises a happy ending.
This show is about the in-between moments, the grey characters, and everything that makes you feel uncomfortable, that should make you uncomfortable.
It asks the question ‘What is abuse?’ and highlights the way systems navigate similar narratives on a daily basis.
photo courtesy of IMDb
The story starts with 25-year-old Alex (Margaret Qualley) who flees her emotionally abusive relationship with her 2-year-old, Maddy (Rylea Neveah Whittet). Over the course of the 10-part drama, Alex starts to piece her life back together from scratch. Her journey eventually leads her to a maid-for-hire service and back to her estranged father and self-diagnosed bipolar mother (played by Qualley’s mother, which makes their complex relationship even more brilliant to witness).
Maid highlights every effort made to access the bare minimum and the lack of support available for women who have run out of plausible options. This narrative puts a face to those who are not abusing government assistance - but rather, are failed by it. It showcases the thousands who are trapped in a never-ending cycle and who are judged, as opposed to being applauded, for their will to make it work. With only $18 to her name, the series displays Alex’s funds on the screen when essential purchases need to be made. And so, Maid walks the fine line between the harsh reality of American poverty and those who are blindly throwing away their fortune.
Each character is perfectly realised, the show truly capturing their humanness. Alex’s unwillingness to let her daughter suffer as she did, breaking a generational curse, is heart-wrenching. She becomes the hero of her own story, and viewers can’t help but feel that every small act of kindness Alex finds or every reach for stability is genuine, and every setback is a wound to the chest.
Not only does Maid tackle the stigma of domestic abuse, it demonstrates how abusers are loved and admired publicly while victims are blamed for breaking up a loving family. It shows that abusers are often unaware of the severity of their behaviour, or how terrifying verbal and mental abuse is for those enduring it.
Ultimately, Maid starts and ends with Alex and her realistic nightmare of navigating the social services system, family court, subsidized day care, and housing. While parts of it are truly difficult to get through, Maid remains a must-watch for anyone without weekend plans.