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|Created by||Molly Smith Metzler|
|Inspired by||Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive|
by Stephanie Land
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||10|
|Production location||Victoria, British Columbia|
|Running time||47–60 minutes|
|Original release||October 1, 2021|
Maid is an American drama limited series created for Netflix by Molly Smith Metzler. The series is inspired by Stephanie Land's memoir Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive. Its story focuses on a young mother who escapes an abusive relationship, subsequently struggling to provide for her daughter by getting a job cleaning houses. It premiered on Netflix on October 1, 2021.
It received critical acclaim, with praise going towards the writing, tone, and performances (particularly Qualley's), and became Netflix's fourth most-watched show of the year. Its accolades include three Primetime Emmy Award nominations, including acting nomination for Qualley, and three Golden Globe nominations, specifically for Best Limited Series, as well as Best Actress in a Miniseries or Television Film (Qualley) and Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries or Television Film (MacDowell). In addition, Qualley was also nominated for a Critics' Choice Television Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award. In addition, the American Film Institute named it one of the ten best television programs of 2021.
Alex leaves her abusive boyfriend, moves herself and their toddler daughter into a shelter, and gets a job cleaning houses for Value Maids. The show follows Alex's struggles with raising a young child, dealing with both an abusive ex-boyfriend and her own dysfunctional family, and navigating the red tape of government assistance, all while working as a maid and dreaming of a future as a writer. The story takes place near Seattle with the Alex character frequently commuting via ferry to the fictional Fisher Island.
Cast and characters
- Margaret Qualley as Alexandra "Alex" Russell, a young mother who leaves her emotionally abusive boyfriend, taking her two/three-year-old daughter Maddy and getting a job working as a maid.
- Nick Robinson as Sean Boyd, Alex's abusive ex and the father of her daughter, Maddy.
- Anika Noni Rose as Regina, a wealthy client of Alex's
- Tracy Vilar as Yolanda, Alex's boss at Value Maids
- Billy Burke as Hank, Alex's estranged father
- Andie MacDowell as Paula Langley, Alex's mother who has severe bipolar disorder
- Rylea Nevaeh Whittet as Maddy Boyd, Alex and Sean's lively toddler daughter who turns three years old in the sixth episode
- Xavier De Guzman as Ethan, Sean's best friend
- Raymond Ablack as Nate, an acquaintance from Alex's past
- BJ Harrison as Denise, the woman who runs the domestic violence shelter
- Christie Burke as Tania, a friend of Sean and Alex
- Toby Levins as Basil, Paula's boyfriend
- Aimee Carrero as Danielle, a woman staying in the domestic violence shelter whom Alex befriends
- Mozhan Marnò as Tara, Alex's lawyer
- Théodore Pellerin as Wayne, Alex’s Tinder date
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original release date||Prod.|
|1||"Dollar Store"||John Wells||Molly Smith Metzler||October 1, 2021||T13.22651|
|Alex Russell, a young mother living in Port Hampstead, Washington, leaves her alcoholic, emotionally and physically abusive boyfriend Sean in the middle of the night, taking their two-year-old daughter Maddy with her. Forced to sleep in a car and with scant money to spare, Alex visits a social worker, who informs her that she needs to present two pay stubs to qualify for subsidized housing. The only available job is at Value Maids, a cleaning company whose owner Yolanda hires her. Alex has her manic, freewheeling mother Paula - who works as an artist out of her boyfriend's RV - babysit Maddy while she takes the ferry to Fisher Island for her first shift at a lavish home owned by wealthy client Regina. Alex passes out midway through her shift; she returns to the mainland to discover that Paula has returned Maddy to Sean's care. Alex returns to Sean's trailer and takes Maddy back despite his protests. Yolanda calls to report that Regina was not satisfied with Alex's standard of cleaning; Alex opts to return to complete the job, but she and Maddy get into a car crash on the way there. Alex has her estranged father Hank drop them at the ferry station and waits there with Maddy.|
|2||"Ponies"||John Wells||Molly Smith Metzler||October 1, 2021||T13.22652|
|Flashbacks show Alex first meeting Sean while reciting some of her personal writing at a restaurant. In the present, Alex is contacted by Sean's lawyer, who informs her that Sean has filed to reclaim full custody of Maddy. Alex's social worker advises that she take refuge at a nearby domestic violence shelter. While there, Alex befriends Danielle, a fellow resident. Alex loses her court case, granting Sean full custody of Maddy for 7 days till the court reconvenes. Danielle learns that Regina never paid Alex for her cleaning shift, and helps her steal Regina's dog to force her hand. Regina is initially irate and threatens to call the police, but Alex stands up to her, and later finds that Regina has sent the full payment. However, she discovers Danielle has left the shelter to return to her ex; the shelter's owner Denise informs Alex that most women only commit to their stay after several attempts. In her journal, Alex recounts her relationship with Sean souring after she chose to carry Maddy instead of undergoing an abortion.|
|3||"Sea Glass"||Nzingha Stewart||Marcus Gardley||October 1, 2021||T13.22653|
|Denise introduces Alex to her lawyer friend, who advises that while the legal system does not consider emotional abuse to be domestic violence, her claim may still grant her joint custody of Maddy. After a particularly grueling cleaning shift, Alex finds Sean drunk at a bar with friends and chastises him for his negligent parenting. Alex attempts to obtain a signature from her mother Paula as a character witness deeming her fit to parent Maddy, but Paula is inattentive and fixated on her art, and the two eventually have a bitter argument. Alex learns that Sean missed a bartending shift for the first time and discovers him intoxicated on the beach, reeling from the breakdown of his and Alex's relationship. Alex reminds him of the responsibility of being a parent and brings him home; the next day, Sean decides to drop his court case and agrees to share custody of Maddy with Alex. Alex and Maddy arrive at their new subsidized housing unit and find that Paula has painted it for them.|
|4||"Cashmere"||Nzingha Stewart||Rebecca Brunstetter||October 1, 2021||T13.22654|
|Alex's former acquaintance Nate, recently divorced and living on Fisher Island, provides her with his car; Alex is grateful, but politely declines Nate's romantic advances. On Thanksgiving Day, Alex works a shift at Regina's house while Regina is away with her husband on a weekend trip. After the job is complete, Alex treats herself to Regina's wine, tries on her clothes, and invites a Tinder date, Wayne, to the house, claiming it to be her own. However, Regina returns home that night, feeling miserable after being asked for a divorce by her husband. Regina shares with Alex that she struggled to conceive and that she and her husband had a child via surrogacy in an attempt to fix their failing marriage; she advises Alex not to let anyone take advantage of her. Alex reflects in her journal on how even the wealthy are often deeply unhappy. Prior to picking up Maddy from Sean's care, Alex texts Wayne to tell the truth about her circumstances.|
|5||"Thief"||Lila Neugebauer||Colin McKenna||October 1, 2021||T13.22655|
|Alex struggles to pay tuition for Maddy's daycare, and Maddy falls ill from black mold exposure while staying at the subsidized housing unit, which Alex is thereby forced to vacate. With Sean unable to care for Maddy amid working two shifts at the bar, Alex reluctantly takes Maddy to the home of her estranged father Hank, who has since remarried and yearns to help Alex. While cleaning a house in the woods once belonging to an infamous local thief dubbed "Barefoot Billy," Alex briefly gets trapped inside a crawlspace and suffers a panic attack. She later learns that her mother has gone missing; while searching for her, Alex encounters Danielle, who is with her boyfriend and pretends not to recognize Alex. Alex willfully reenters the crawlspace in Barefoot Billy's house after the cleaning job is complete, and recalls that she and her mother fled home because Hank was physically abusive to Paula. Alex immediately removes Maddy from Hank's home and goes to stay with Paula, who has returned after spontaneously getting married to her boyfriend, Basil.|
|6||"M"||Helen Shaver||Michelle Denise Jackson||October 1, 2021||T13.22656|
|Alex searches for a new residence, but struggles to find a landlord willing to accept a TBRA voucher. Alex grows closer with Regina while sharing mothering advice for the latter's surrogate child. After witnessing the negligence of Maddy's daycare staff, Alex decides to find Maddy a better daycare center. Nate agrees to help and puts her in contact with a Fisher Island nursery, where Alex learns she will be eligible for a needs-based scholarship if she can provide proof of residence on the island. Alex eventually finds an apartment on Fisher Island whose landlords agree to cover half the rent in exchange for Alex's landscaping services, and additionally allow Alex to use the home for Maddy's third birthday party. However, Alex is forced to vacate the apartment after Sean becomes intoxicated at the party and is discovered the following morning asleep on a couch after having broken into the living room. Alex and Maddy temporarily move into Nate's house.|
|7||"String Cheese"||Helen Shaver||Rebecca Brunstetter||October 1, 2021||T13.22657|
|After Yolanda refuses to give her extra shifts, Alex visits a Value Maids client herself and offers a cheaper cleaning rate. Alex learns that Basil disappeared with his trailer and rented out Paula's family home under his name, leaving Paula homeless; Paula temporarily takes refuge at Nate's home. During dinner, Nate confides his feelings for Alex, but Alex believes their unequal power dynamic would make a relationship untenable. Sean interrupts, having recovered Paula's mortgage papers and learned that the property she owns is facing foreclosure. Alex, Sean and Paula track down Basil to a casino, where they learn that he is a con man and gambling addict who recently lost all of Paula's mortgage money. A heartbroken Paula takes out her anger on Alex and soon vanishes; Alex and Sean find her attempting to break into her family home and realize she has severely cut her wrists on broken glass as a result. Paula is rushed to the hospital while Sean comforts a traumatized Alex; the two return to Sean's trailer and have sex.|
|8||"Bear Hunt"||Quyen Tran||Marcus Gardley and Molly Smith Metzler||October 1, 2021||T13.22658|
|Nate has Alex move out of his house after learning she had sex with Sean, but allows her to keep his car. Alex moves back into Sean's trailer with Maddy and learns that Sean is learning carpentry from Hank, who is also Sean's AA sponsor. While cleaning Regina's house, Alex receives a call from the University of Montana informing her that she is allowed to reapply for a past creative writing scholarship free of charge; Alex uses Regina's computer to submit a writing sample of her journal entries as part of the application. Yolanda fires Alex for stealing business from Value Maids; Regina, however, insists on keeping Alex's services and offers her weekly shifts and a ferry pass, which Alex accepts. Alex learns that Paula has been discharged from psychiatric care by Basil. While at her friend's wedding, Alex is overjoyed to learn that she has been accepted for the scholarship, but Sean is enraged that she is deciding to move away with Maddy without asking him. The following morning, Alex learns that Sean returned Nate's car, effectively trapping her with him, and breaks down crying in shame.|
|9||"Sky Blue"||John Wells||Colin McKenna||October 1, 2021||T13.22659|
|Alex spends several days in Sean's trailer in a deep depression, while Sean resumes drinking. One night, Hank visits for dinner; when Alex attempts to leave, Sean forcefully orders her to join the table in front of Hank, who does nothing to intervene. Soon after, Sean returns home drunk after being fired from his bartending job and smashes a vase, narrowly missing Alex. Alex discovers Maddy hiding from the scene inside a cupboard and decides to flee the trailer on foot, contacting Regina to drop her off at the DV shelter. Denise provides Alex with free clothes and a new phone. Regina, having read Alex's notebook left behind at a cleaning job and impressed with her writing ability, sets up Alex with a high-powered family lawyer who can ensure she leaves for college with custody of Maddy. Alex makes considerable money cleaning the homes of hoarders, applies for housing and financial aid at Missoula, and buys a new car. She serves Sean with the relocation papers, but Sean refuses to give up custody of Maddy and decides to take the case to court. Alex meets with her mother - now selling art at a flea market with her new boyfriend, Micah - and informs her she is going to college. She follows Paula's car afterwards and discovers that Paula is homeless.|
|10||"Snaps"||John Wells||Molly Smith Metzler||October 1, 2021||T13.22660|
|Alex's lawyer Tara informs her that Sean has rejected Alex's ex parte motion for custody of Maddy - citing lack of evidence of abuse - and that if Alex loses the court case, she will be unable to move with Maddy out of state. Alex has Paula supervise Sean's court-approved, 4-hour visitation session with Maddy. She then visits Hank and asks him to testify that he witnessed Sean emotionally abuse her, but Hank refuses, empathizing instead with Sean's struggles with alcoholism. After yelling at Maddy and causing her to have a meltdown during their visitation session, Sean admits to Alex that his alcoholism is endangering Maddy and making him unfit to be a father; he signs over full custody of Maddy to Alex and drops the court case. Alex asks Paula to move to Montana with her; Paula agrees, but reneges the next day, opting to stay with Micah and encouraging Alex to pursue her future. Alex and Maddy depart for Missoula, finally free.|
On November 20, 2019, Netflix gave production a series order inspired by New York Times best-selling memoir Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive by Stephanie Land. The series was created by Molly Smith Metzler who was also an executive producer alongside John Wells, Erin Jontow, Margot Robbie, Tom Ackerley, Brett Hedblom, and Land. Production companies involved with the series consisted of John Wells Productions, LuckyChap Entertainment, and Warner Bros. Television. Directors of the series included Wells, Nzingha Stewart, Lila Neugebauer, Helen Shaver, and Quyen "Q" Tran. The limited series was released on October 1, 2021.
In August 2020, Margaret Qualley and Nick Robinson were cast in leading roles. On September 14, 2020, Anika Noni Rose joined the cast in a leading role. In October 2020, Andie MacDowell, Tracy Vilar, and Billy Burke joined the cast in leading roles. On November 25, 2020, Xavi de Guzman joined the cast in a recurring role. Aimee Carrero landed a role as Danielle, who is a fellow survivor of domestic abuse and becomes friends with Alex, Margaret Qualley's character, at the women's shelter.
According to Netflix, Maid has been viewed by estimated 67 million households, becoming the streaming service's fourth most-watched show in 2021. In the streaming rankings for the week of October 4 to 10, Maid doubled its viewing time from the previous week and climbed to second place behind Squid Game with 1.9 billion minutes of viewing time.
Specifically, in the Netflix's Top 10 TV English titles ranking, during its debut week, Maid placed at number two just two days after its release with 61.08 million hours viewed. The following week, it topped the chart and garnered 166.52 million viewing hours. In its third week, it ranked at number two and generated 129.28 million viewing hours. The series remained in the chart for 13 weeks until December 26, 2021.
Maid received critical acclaim. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 94% approval rating with an average rating of 8.2/10, based on 49 critic reviews. The website's critics consensus reads, "Maid takes great care with its sensitive subject matter to craft a drama that is not always easy to watch, but undeniably powerful, grounded by an outstanding performance by Margaret Qualley." Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned a score of 82 out of 100 based on 19 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".
Kristen Lopez of IndieWire gave the series an A and wrote, "We need more stories like this and, hands down, Maid deserves all the acclaim it gets." Reviewing the series for Rolling Stone, Alan Sepinwall gave a rating of four out of five stars and said, "Parts of it are deliberately difficult to get through, yet the show is surprisingly watchable given the nature of the story, and at times even light and charming. Much of this is a credit to Qualley, who delivers a movie-star-level performance."
The American Film Institute named the series one of the ten best television programs of the year.
Awards and nominations
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