Maid, the new Netflix series tells the story of Alex (Margaret Qualley), who decides to run away with her 3-year-old daughter Maddy, in the middle of the night from the abusive relationship she suffered from Sean (Nick Robinson), father of her daughter.
The ten episodes are intense and address the hard journey of this young mother, who needs to prove the psychological abuse she suffered, gain custody of her daughter, survive amid the bureaucracy of social services provided by the government, and manage her full-time job as a maid. The problems escalate with each episode and show the situations that Alex goes through in a real and painful way.
Alex ends up at a dead-end: she needs to find a job to be financially independent and to take care of her daughter but doesn’t have the financial condition necessary for Maddy’s daycare. To be able to pay for child care with government aid, she needs to prove she has a source of income – turning this whole situation into a paradoxical cycle.
HARD WORK, LOW PAY, AND A MOTHER´S WILL TO SURVIVE
The plot is based on the best-seller “Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive” by Stephanie Land, which tells about her own story. Even with some changes made, the series manages to portray what Stephanie and so many other women went through, their fight for a place in the world.
The narrative manages to explore very well Alex’s situation as a solo mother in society, which is made even more difficult by the invisible marks left by the psychological abuse she suffered. In the beginning, Alex cannot see herself as a victim of domestic violence, because there are no physical marks. But, this issue is explored with the conversations in the shelter for women victims of violence. Psychological wounds leave marks as much as physical wounds.
Maid throws open the fact that male privileges come from female domination. We see Alex’s struggle to bring comfort and quality of life to her daughter, especially when she finds herself in situations of poverty and exploitation. But even so, the fight in court for Maddy’s custody is hampered by her ex-boyfriend, who, in addition to psychologically abusing her, does not have the same determination as Alex to care and provide the best life for his daughter.
THE HARSH TRUTH OF A DOUBLE JOURNEY
The narrative demonstrates this motherhood in its hardest and most real form. The tiredness of the double journey, the marginalization, the invisibility, and the lack of support network that solo mothers go through every day is symbolized in one character. The anguish and the feeling of impotence make us realize that what is happening is real. You realize that someone went through that and there are women going through that every day, it’s our reality.
To get an idea, through IBGE (Brazilian Statistics Institute) data, in Brazil, 63% of families supported by women are below the poverty line. Thus, this number demonstrates this precariousness and lack of support among solo mothers. Also shows the consequences of the patriarchal society, placing women in a vulnerable situation.
It’s difficult to watch because, in addition to all of the character’s personal issues, there are social issues. The difficulty of getting a job without a certain education and how this leads to exploitation. Alex finds herself without a home and enough money to support her daughter. Government aid is often hampered by bureaucracy, and it is at this point that we see the existing ambiguity, something that would be to help those in need, making the situation even more difficult.
The series shows this situation in its raw form. Besides struggling with jobs and child care, Alex doesn’t have people around her that she can trust with her eyes closed either. This is explored in the narrative and serves as a portrait of society. Mothers, mainly solo, are invisible. Nobody expects a woman, when she has a child, to get on with her life. The situation is even more difficult when there is no power of choice, the character needs to go after some work, even in the worst possible conditions. If she doesn’t, there is no survival.
At the beginning of the tv show, the feeling of impotence is very strong, she doesn’t see herself. The trajectory is very difficult, but one of the parts that touch our hearts is her relationship with Maddy. What helps us to watch it all and feel some sense of comfort is the mother-daughter relationship that the two have.
We realize that Alex can only keep fighting and trying for a better life because of her daughter. So much so that in the end, both they and we were finally able to breathe and feel freedom.
I can say in all words that Maid is one of the most important series of 2021. It became the most-watched mini-series on the platform, with an average of 67 million viewers. The production opens up society’s flaws in a way that impacts us and transforms the experience of watching this series into a unique one.