ABC News’ Daisha Riley reports:
“Devious Maids,” a new television series produced by actress Eva Longoria, hasn’t even premiered yet but it’s already drawing heavy criticism from people who say it shows Latinas in demeaning stereotypical roles.
“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 …,’” Damarys Ocana, executive editor of Latina magazine, said, adding that people are passionate about how Latinos are portrayed on TV and film.
Online the reaction was mixed. Some people have taken to Twitter to express their outrage.
Added user @GeekChicStar: “Am I the only Latina who thinks “Devious Maids” is degrading? …”
“Devious Maids” tells the story of five Latina maids who face wrath and condescension from their wealthy employers in Beverly Hills.
Ahead of the show’s upcoming premiere Sunday night on Lifetime, the “Devious Maids” cast, as well as Longoria and executive producer Marc Cherry — who created the hit series “Desperate Housewives” — have been addressing the criticism.
Longoria said critics have failed to acknowledge the show’s groundbreaking achievement: that this is the first English-language drama ever to star five Latina actresses.
“When we get any sort of backlash, sort of ‘they are playing the stereotypical maids,’ my immediate response is that ‘so you’re telling me those stories aren’t worth telling?’ Those people are lesser than?’” Longoria said in an online video promoting the show.
Roselyn Sanchez, whose onscreen credits include the film “Rush Hour 2″ and the TV series “Without a Trace,” agrees.
“We don’t think that (by) playing maids we’re being demeaning to the Latino culture,” she told Maximo TV.
Added her co-star, Ana Ortiz: “The more that we talk about it, the more people are aware of it, the better.”
This isn’t the first time Hollywood has been accused of typecasting women of color.
Actress Octavia Spencer, who is African-American, won an Academy award last year for her portrayal of a maid in the film “The Help,” but some people thought the role perpetuated antiquated stereotypes dating to as far back as the film “Gone With the Wind.”
Hattie McDaniel made history as the first black woman to win an Oscar for playing a maid a named Mammy in that 1939 film, and she spent much of the rest of her career essentially reprising that role.
Eva Longoria, Marc Cherry and Lifetime did not reply to requests for comment from ABC News.