Judge Brett Cullum likes to clean with the best of them!
Sometimes cleaning up can get messy.
Devious Maids is the latest from Desperate Housewives creator/writer Marc Cherry. Fans of his ABC series should find it familiar, yet with a new Latin spin on his style. It's not a project he initially chose, but the producer was brought on board to create the show based on a Mexican telenovela called "Ellas son la Alegría del Hogar" (Spanish for "They Are the Home's Joy") for a possible series run on ABC. Latin actress Eva Longoria (Arthur Christmas) was also put in place to make sure the cultural aspects were correct and done in a favorable light, and she became an executive producer. The big network passed, but they did option it for their cable channel Lifetime, where the production landed and enjoyed a strong following growing viewers all the way up to the season finale.
The plot is a traditional mystery, much like the initial season of Desperate Housewives, but rather than a tragic suicide, we have a straight-out casual offing of a domestic at a glitzy party. The maid is attacked with a knife in a bedroom, and then stumbles down a flight of stairs bleeding before she dives dead into the pool. Another servant is pinned for the murderous act, since he's found holding a bloody knife, yet things are not that easy. Five maids team up together to see if they can figure out what really happened to their friend. Along the way, they uncover several secrets that could jeopardize their employer's status and reputation.
As usual for a Marc Cherry production, he assembled a dynamite cast that elevated the material to comic highs and dramatic depths. The actors make this whole thing work as it juggles comedy, drama, social commentary, and a meditation on what it means to be a maid in the surreal world of Beverly Hills. The titular domestics are played by Ana Ortiz (Ugly Betty), Dania Ramirez (X-Men: The Last Stand, Roselyn Sánchez (Rush Hour 2), Edy Ganem (The Ghostmaker), and Judy Reyes (Scrubs).
Supporting characters playing Beverly Hills homeowners include a gloriously daffy Susan Lucci (All My Children), Rebecca Wisocky (Funny Money), Tom Irwin (21 Grams), Brianna Brown (Knocked Up), Brett Cullen (The Dark Knight Rises), Mariana Klaveno (True Blood), and Grant Show (Melrose Place).
The DVDs present the show well with nice transfers and a few bonus features that add a little fun to the mix. The series run of thirteen episodes is spread out over three discs. The transfers all look solid with great color, and no noticeable digital artifacts. Each DVD has some extended or deleted scenes on it that usually run five minutes. On the final disc is a collection of bloopers and a featurette on how the locations are shot in Atlanta rather than Beverly Hills. It's not a ton of supplemental material, but there's enough there to make it interesting to fans of the show or new comers who want to see more.
Devious Maids: The Complete First Season reminded me of why I love Marc Cherry. I was a fan of Desperate Housewives, and this was like watching the show in its prime. It has an awesome cast, a juicy mystery, and a plot that moves along at a breakneck speed. There is as much comedy as there is drama, and it has something to say about maids and the people they serve in Beverly Hills. Cherry with a Latin twist is surprisingly a lot of fun, and I found myself engaged right from the start of the pilot.
I was scared this would be too much like Desperate Housewives, but Devious Maids turned me into a believer by evoking the best of that show to springboard into its own identity. There is an excellent cast who knows how to juggle the comedy and drama, and they slip seamlessly between the two just like the women of Wisteria Lane did. Yet there is something more wild and exotic here, and that is what sold me in the end. If you're looking for some soapy fun, you have found it.
Guilty of being a great Marc Cherry show. Devious Maids is free to go
and clean up any messes it may have made.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: ABC Studios
• Extended/Deleted Scenes
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