Tuesday, December 07, 2021

TV Tuesday: Maid

My husband went on a rare business trip last month, so I started a just-for-me show I'd been dying to watch: Maid on Netflix, a limited series based on the best-selling memoir of the same name by Stephanie Land. It more than lived up to the rave reviews I've been hearing. I finished it today with tears in my eyes and a smile on my face.

Twenty-eight-year-old Alex is smart and has a bright future ahead: she's been accepted to the writing program at University of Montana at Missoula. But a casual relationship turns into an unplanned pregnancy, and soon Alex finds herself trapped in a trailer with Sean and their young daughter, Maddy. Alex loves Maddy with all her heart and loves being her mother, but Sean drinks heavily every night and often loses his temper. He's never actually hurt Alex or Maddy, but the night that he throws a glass bowl and narrowly misses Alex's head, she realizes they are in danger. She and Maddy leave in the middle of the night, and Alex is determined not to return. She soon finds, though, that life is extremely difficult for a young single mother on her own. She enters the impossibly complex web of government programs that sound good in theory but don't work in practice. She needs a job to qualify for aid, but she can't get a job without an address. A home for victims of domestic violence is their saving grace, run by a kind, older woman named Denise, though they spend some nights in their car and one awful night on the floor of the ferry terminal. Alex is determined to find a job and gets hired by a cleaning service but must provide her own cleaning supplies, which uses up every penny of the meager cash she has. She also needs to find care for Maddy while she works. She spends her days cleaning the homes of wealthy couples and families who treat her like a non-person. In addition, Alex is estranged from her father, and her mother has untreated bipolar disorder; Alex has been taking care of her since she was six years old. Alex endures challenge after challenge, and just when things seem stable, something else happens to pull the rug out from under her. But she is determined to not only make a life for her herself but to protect her beloved daughter, too.

Wow. This show is so wonderful. It's a moving, powerful story made all the more impactful by the fact that it's based on a true story. The casting is perfect, with Margaret Qualley playing Alex, and Andie MacDowell (her real-life mother) as her unstable mother, Paula. Those two, and the rest of the cast, are outstanding in their roles, as is little Rylea Nevaeh Whittet as Maddy. The relationship between Alex and Maddy is heart-warming and feels authentic. The gorgeous setting, on the Washington coast and nearby islands, provides a beautiful backdrop for this often raw story of survival. There are moments of despair, countered by moments of victory, and I was rooting for Alex every step of the way. Alex and Paula and Maddy feel real to me, and their story is poignant, heart-breaking, and ultimately triumphant. It's made all the more powerful by the understanding that Alex's story is the story of so many other abused women and single mothers struggling to survive.

Maid is a Netflix exclusive.

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