Maid, the new Netflix drama, is a thought-provokingly beautiful ode to domestic abuse survivors everywhere.
The story starts with Alex, the lead protagonist and mother of two-year-old daughter Maddy, escaping her abusive boyfriend Sean in the middle of the night. Taking nothing with her except some change and a rusty car, we follow the story of a woman fighting a rigged social welfare system and the pressures of doing what’s best for her daughter in hopes of getting her life together. Based on Stephanie Land’s memoir Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive, the show does a phenomenal job in dealing with perhaps one of the most uncomfortable, yet pertinent, issues that plague our society today–domestic violence.
Margaret Qualley, the actress who plays Alex, delivered a remarkable performance and conveyed the wide array of emotions that her character, Alex, faced — pain, uncertainty, anger, dejection and hope. Watching Qualley’s performance had me on the edge of my seat and you just couldn’t help but root for her character from start to finish. Nick Robinson’s performance as Sean was also excellent — my contempt for his character is proof of that. Other notable supporting cast members like Andie MacDowell and Raymond Ablack brought strong performances to the screen. Maid is a group project where everyone plays an equally important role.
What I loved most about this show, however, is not the outstanding performance of the cast, but the actual story itself. The show delves into the healing process for domestic violence survivors, starting with the very first step of the recovery process: Acceptance that the abuse has occurred. I believe that seeing the various forms in which domestic abuse can take place is a scary yet urgently necessary step everyone needs to take to raise awareness and take steps toward prevention. Maid also highlights the prevalence of generational abuse and brings to light how traumatic experiences, in its variety of forms, can be normalized for people who grew up with it, which consequently, can blind them to the violence they face.
Maid is ultimately a story about the strong connection and love that a mother has with her child. It can be stressful to watch, and in more instances than one, I wanted to close my screen and pretend like what I was seeing wasn’t really happening. But it is. Abuse, violence, rejection and recovery are themes that are not unique to Maid alone, but shared by domestic abuse survivors collectively. Our discomfort with the topics of the show are exactly why we should not turn away from it, but confront it fully as a reflection of struggles that are hidden discreetly in the confines of homes everywhere. To call Maid ‘entertaining’ would be almost degrading. Calling it ‘necessary’ would be more fitting.
Audrey Ahn is a sophomore in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. She can be reached at [email protected]