Content Warning: Mentions of Domestic Abuse and Alcoholism
Maid is a Netflix limited series that follows young mother Alex (Margaret Qualley, Once Upon A Time in Hollywood (2019)) after fleeing an abusive relationship and taking on a job as a cleaner in an attempt to build a better life for her daughter. Met with hurdles at every step like the abusive ex, a complex family, and a broken government system, we get to see Alex struggle but eventually overcome them all to get what she wants.
The main underpinning theme of this show is the domestic abuse Alex undergoes as a result of her alcoholic partner Sean (Nick Robinson). But unlike most media that depict abuse, Maid made the important choice to highlight mental and verbal abuse rather than physical abuse, something that is much underrepresented. The show respectfully depicts the relationship between an abuser and their victim, exploring the psychology of both of them and fundamentally destroying the stereotype of “it being easy to leave an abusive relationship”.
It is important to note that while the show explains in part and humanises Sean as a character, it never justifies his actions or even tries to. He is always the one at fault and that is never shifted to Alex.
The show is much of an education tool as it is a drama, and through it I was able to learn a lot of things about domestic abuse, the systems in place to support victims of it and systems in place to support those in poverty. Maid depicts these systems with frustrating clarity and shows just how unfair they can really be, emphasising just how broken the US Government is at supporting its people, something I’m certain the UK shares in.
At times the show is overwhelmingly bleak with how much gets thrown in Alex’s way which is why the inclusion of characters like her daughter, Maddy (Rylea Nevaeh Whittet), and Nate (Raymond Ablack) were sources of some much-needed serotonin.
There is a surprisingly large swath of characters for this 10 episode time but it does an excellent job of giving each a chance to be fleshed out and humanised. However, I think it is in part due to this shortness that a few of the characters like Nate and Danielle (Aimee Carreoro) seemed to abruptly disappear and are never given a satisfying conclusion. I’m not too upset about this however as at the end of the day this is Alex and Maddy’s story and the show never loses focus on that.
Margaret Qualley does a superb job as the lead in Maid, and I am certain there are more than a few awards lined up for her in the future. She portrays Alex perfectly as this relatable, funny, and resilient woman who can do anything she puts her mind to, yet still realistically portray and show the weight of the many hardships she faces. Her performance is one of my favourite parts of the show and has definitely landed Qualley on my radar of actresses to look out for more.
There is virtually nothing wrong with Maid. It addresses some serious topics in a well-intentioned and meaningful way while providing an entertaining experience that will keep you hooked for ten hours. But I fear that it is in danger of being lost amidst all of Netflix’s content so if you ever get the chance, be sure to check this out.