A new television program is courting controversy before its first episode has even aired.
“Devious Maids,” a Lifetime series created by Marc Cherry (Desperate Housewives) and executive produced by Eva Longoria, is under fire from critics who say the show perpetuates negative Latina stereotypes, according to TV Guide.
The show, which is set to premiere this Sunday, centers on five Latina maids, played by Ana Ortiz, Dania Ramirez, Roselyn Sanchez, Edy Ganem and Judy Reyes, who work for wealthy residents in Beverly Hills.
In a blog on The Huffington Post, writer Tanisha L. Ramirez calls the series a “wasted opportunity” to portray Latinas in a different light, based on her viewing of the minute-long trailer to promote the show.
“The series is the first mainstream, English-language television drama featuring five Latina main characters, which is -- for better or for worse -- a novel concept even in this day and age. Not novel, however, is the fact that all -- count 'em, all! -- of the main characters play "devious" maids. It just all seems like a missed opportunity to diversify the roles played by Latinas,” Ramirez writes.
Damarys Ocana, executive editor of Latina Magazine, told ABC News that she had a similar reaction. "There probably wasn't a Latina in the country who didn't initially roll her eyes of 'oh great, here we go again. Another Latina character that's a maid,"' she said.
In an effort to address the criticism, executive producer Eva Longoria wrote a response piece for The Huffington Post, saying that while the main characters in the show are “a realistic reflection of Latinas in America today,” they are not, she says, “a reflection of every Latina.”
Series creator Marc Cherry also defended the show, telling Access Hollywood last week that he “always knew there would be controversy with the show,” but that he feels the series “has done five super positive portrayals of Latina women who are both devious and smart but have dreams of their own and are pursuing them with all the gusto in the world.”
With debate raging over “Devious Maids,” Cherry, Longoria, and network brass at Lifetime are hoping that viewers will tune in when the series premieres this Sunday.
There's good chance there will be a good number of viewers because, as has been proven time and again, controversy typically equals ratings.