Devious Maids Season 1 Review “Pilot”

In the latest from “Desperate Housewives”-creator Marc Cherry, we get a look at how the other half lives in “Devious Maids”. Co-executive produced by the former star of that show, Eva Longoria, “Maids” is the first prominent show with a largely Latin cast since “Ugly Betty” and features one of that show’s stars, Ana Ortiz, as one of the most appealing of the leads, Marisol, whose son has been accused of a murder he did not commit. The opening scene, in which said murder takes place, is a grabber, and effectively sets the tone of the show, as, upon talking to the police after their maid is killed, her employer not-so-sensitively notes about all the blood left behind: “Who is going to clean all this up?”

And so it goes. We meet all of the main cast’s employers, and they are pretty awful people all around thus far. The wife of the murdered maid finds out her husband is sleeping with her (Paula Garcès, late of “The Shield”), but the maid, Flores, claims otherwise in a heretofore undiscovered note, in which she claims he, in fact, raped her. It was a bit disconcerting seeing Tom Irwin, best known for playing Angela’s dad on “My So-Called Life” and a preacher on “Saving Grace”, playing such a sleaze-ball, but he was pretty effective, so I guess he was well-cast. (Ditto his snobby wife, played by Rebecca Wisocky, of “The Mentalist”.)

Marisol does double duty, finagling her way into a job with said couple to investigate the crime at hand, while retaining her job working for an insecure younger wife, Taylor (Brianna Brown, of “General Hospital”) to an older husband Michael (Brett Cullen, formerly of “Lost” and “Person of Interest”). She ultimately proves to be the best of the bunch, as Marisol wins her over when she goes off on the husband’s ex-wife, who shows up unannounced at her ex’s birthday party and goes a bit nuts. “You have a job as long as you want one,” says Taylor. Nice!

There’s also Zoila (Judy Reyes, late of “Scrubs”), who works with her daughter, Valentina (Edy Ganem) for a nutty older lady, Genevieve (Susan Lucci, of “All My Children”, perfectly cast); who has a live-in son, Remi (Drew Van Acker, of “Pretty Little Liars”) that Valentina is in love with.

Next is Carmen (Roselyn Sanchez, late of “Without a Trace”), who works for a pop star, Alejandro (Matt Cedeño), and has singing dreams of her own, but has an overprotective Head of Staff to deal with, Odessa (Melinda Page Hamilton, of “Mad Men”),

Last but not least, there’s the sweet-natured Rosie (Dania Ramirez, of “Entourage” and “Heroes”), who longs to help her son move to the States from Mexico to join her, but has unsympathetic self-involved employers in actors Peri (Mariana Klaveno, of “True Blood”) and Spencer (Grant Show, of “Melrose Place”).

That about covers the sprawling cast, I believe, though I assume we’ll also get some cops involved, what with a murder having taken place and all. One also assumes producer Longoria might pop up at some point as well, with “Housewives” long since done. In fact, I was sort of surprised she didn’t play one of the leads, which I kind of assumed would be the case. I guess she’s looking to go Hollywood, maybe?

“Devious Maids” actually began as a “Housewives” spin-off, but was rejected by ABC, so Lifetime snapped it up instead. It’s too early to say whether that was a wise move or not, but I will say that Lifetime has clearly been giving themselves a bit of a makeover in recent years, notably with “The Client List” and this show is right in line with that. Like “Client”, it’s sexy, a bit on the naughty side, but also nicely trashy in a way “Housewives” never quite went for, at least during the time I was watching it. (I admittedly bailed before the last few seasons.)

The cast is pretty appealing- and appealingly pretty, I might add- and there are just enough quirks here to keep things going for a good while, though it’s too early to say what the long-term prognosis will be. Like “Housewives” it’s built on the foundation of a murder mystery, so a lot will depend on how the mystery part plays out, and more importantly, what they have in store to follow it up. As it stands, though, I like that the show seems in on its own joke, and that the cast seems that way as well, especially Show, Wisocky, and Klaveno. I especially liked the catty dynamic between the latter and that reporter: “I was just trying to be funny.” “And you came so close.” LOL.

At the same time, certain elements are clearly being played straight, so it’s not just, say, an American variation on a Telanovela, not unlike the aforementioned “Ugly Betty”. I can’t decide if it should lean harder towards one or the other just yet. I’m tempted to say that a sort of Jackie Collins-esque type of show would be great, only with a more Latin spin. I get the sense that “Devious Maids” wants to have it both ways, though, with a healthy dose of straight drama to go with the campier elements (i.e. the hot daughter of the maid that’s crushing on the son of her employer, the high-jinks with Odessa and Carmen).

I guess we’ll find out soon enough. What did you think of the pilot episode of “Devious Maids”? Will you be tuning in next week? Did the “Desperate Housewives” connection bring you here, and if so, how do you think it compares to that show? Did you like the more Latin flair of the show? Or were you somewhat offended that one of the first shows of this sort to revolve around a prominently Latin cast would have to be about maids? Sound off on these things and anything else you want to below in the comments section!