Devious Maids has been compared to Desperate Housewives, but after watching the first two episodes of Marc Cherry's latest primetime soap, it's distinctive enough to stand out from the former ABC hit.
From a distance, there are some similarities: a large ensemble cast, attractive leading ladies, a nice mix of soapy drama, some campy hilarity. But once you take a closer look, there are more than enough differences -- and not just, as star Ana Ortiz (Ugly Betty) puts it, an "upstairs, downstairs" feel. There's a real heart to the show and the leads are much more relatable than the Housewives ever were.
"It's definitely a Marc Cherry show and I think that that's fabulous and we really want that," Ortiz said recently while in Toronto. "What's so wonderful is that it's so different, blending these two worlds together in a way that hasn't been seen before. You're not only getting the point of view from the Beverly Hills [side], but you're getting the point of view from the downstairs, as it were, from the domestic workers. It's so rich and so full and there are so many places to go. And he goes there."
Let's hope so. I stopped watching Desperate Housewives halfway into its run, when the series fast-forwarded five years. That was back when it seemed a bunch of shows were following in that whole flash-forward phenomenon, a la Lost, and while some thought it worked (it must have, the show lasted four more seasons), I lost interest.
Devious Maids, on the other hand -- I can't get enough of. And while it will be constantly compared to Housewives (which not only comes from creator Cherry, but alum Eva Longoria also serves as an executive producer), it more than holds its own. It's an ideal summer show, loaded with lots of dirty laundry (that may or may not get done and put away, depending on the maid) and Lifetime is the perfect network to air it.
Devious Maids centres on a close group of maids -- Rosie (Dania Ramirez, Heroes), Carmen (Roselyn Sanchez, Without a Trace), Zoila (Judy Reyes, Scrubs) and Valentina (Edy Ganem, Livin' Loud) -- whose lives get turned upside-down after their friend and fellow maid Flora (Paula Garces, The Shield) is murdered. They're keeping a secret about her from everyone, including new maid Marisol (Ortiz), who is fascinated by Flora's death for her own reasons.
They're all working for their wickedly wealthy Beverly Hills employers but while they dust and mop and scrub and wash, they also balance their own hopes and dreams (Rosie is trying to bring her son to America; Carmen wants a music career and thinks her superstar boss might be her way in; Zoila is trying to raise daughter Valentina while keeping her from falling for their boss' son). And aside from all that, they have to hold the hands of their self-absorbed employers, and grit their teeth while they listen to their so-called "problems."
While that might sound annoying, nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, the richies are maddening (Rosie's boss, Peri, played by True Blood's Mariana Klaveno is my least favourite), but some are so over-the-top, I can't help but laugh -- in particular, Flora's bosses, Adrian and Evelyn Powell (Tom Irwin and Rebecca Wisocky). One of the things Devious Maids definitely shares with DH is that it doesn't take itself too seriously. Case in point: Susan Lucci. The All My Children diva plays Genevieve Delatour, whom Zoila and Valentina report to, but unlike Carmen, Rosie and Marisol's bosses, she's sweet and fragile ... and hilarious. Yes, Erica Kane is hilarious!
"She is so funny, it's crazy," Ortiz gushes about Lucci. "Genevieve, she's just the heart of this show. She believes in love, she believes in the goodness of people. It's really wonderful."
And La Looch is having a blast. "I'm having the best time," adds Lucci. "The relationship between Zoila and Genevieve, it's so fun and so complex and interdependent. There's so much to this show."
Ortiz concurs. "We really are able to push that envelope, we don't really have a lot of barriers. So he can really take it and push it and luckily, we have such an amazing cast -- if I do say so myself -- that we can take these outlandish scenarios and really ground them, and bring a reality and a humour and a love and a realness to them."
It truly is a fabulous show, from its dynamic cast and diverse characters, to its unique point of view and air of mystery. Watch the first five minutes and you'll be hooked. Desperate Housewives who?
Devious Maids debuts Sunday, June 23 at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT on Lifetime.
This event series will restart the clock on the groundbreaking and Emmy Award-winning drama franchise starring Kiefer Sutherland ("24"). The high-octane saga reunites "Homeland" producer Howard Gordon with Sutherland and retains the real-time, fast-paced format with split screens and complex interweaving storylines, with 12 episodes representing 24 hours.
"The Queen Latifah Show" is a daytime talk-variety series that showcases Queen Latifah’s extraordinary range of talents as a global entertainment icon. The multi-topic, daily syndicated show features a mix of A-list celebrities, real people with inspiring stories, buzz-worthy musical acts, and Queen Latifah’s unique -- often comedic -- take on pop culture. "The Queen Latifah Show" is the perfect platform for this multi-talented host to entertain, inspire and create television that matters.
From the producers of "Downton Abbey" comes a twisted, sophisticated and sexy take on Bram Stoker's classic novel, Dracula, proving that some stories never die. It's the late 19th century, and the mysterious Dracula (Jonathan Rhys Meyers, "The Tudors") has arrived in London, posing as an American entrepreneur who wants to bring modern science to Victorian society. He's especially interested in the new technology of electricity, which promises to brighten the night -- useful for someone who avoids the sun. But he has another reason for his travels: he hopes to get revenge on those who cursed him with immortality centuries earlier. Everything seems to be going according to plan, until he becomes infatuated with a woman who appears to be a reincarnation of his dead wife.
In this action-adventure series from executive producers J.J. Abrams ("Lost") and J.H. Wyman ("Fringe") set in 2048, a cop teams up with a second-hand synthetic android to fight a strain of urban crime that has evolved in even more frightening ways. Detective John Kennex (Karl Urban, "The Bourne Supremacy") survived a catastrophic attack on the city's police department that cost him his friends, one of his limbs and his reputation. When he returns a year later, he finds the transition difficult. Not only does one of the surviving detectives, Richard Paul (Michael Irby, "Flight Plan") blame him for the lethal ambush, but department policy now requires that every cop be paired with a highly-evolved human-like android partner. Instead, Kennex works with lab technician Rudy Lom (MacKenzie Crook, Game of Thrones) to reinstate an outdated Dorian android (Michael Ealy, The Good Wife) whose somewhat dysfunctional platform is based on a "Synthetic Soul" program, allowing it to have emotional responses. Together, the two set out to keep the city safe and uncover the criminal conspiracy that threatens to destroy their world.
This thrilling new action-adventure drama is a modern-day retelling of Washington Irving’s classic tale. Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison, "Parade's End") is resurrected and pulled two-and-a-half centuries through time to find that the world is on the brink of destruction, and that he is humanity’s last hope, forcing him to team up with a contemporary police officer (Nicole Beharie, "42") to unravel a mystery which dates all the way back to the founding fathers.
For decades, ex-government agent Raymond "Red" Reddington (James Spader, "Boston Legal") has been one of the FBI's most wanted fugitives. He has mysteriously surrendered to the FBI with an offer: he will help catch a long thought to be dead terrorist, Ranko Zamani, under the condition that he speaks only to Elizabeth "Liz" Keen (Megan Boone, "Law & Order: Los Angeles"), a new FBI proﬁler. Zamani is the ﬁrst of many on a list that Red has compiled over the years: a "blacklist" of politicians, mobsters, spies and international terrorists. He will help catch them all, with the stipulation that Liz continues to work with him as his partner. Red will teach Liz to think like a criminal and "see the bigger picture"... whether she wants to or not.
Nathan Miller (Will Arnett, "Arrested Development"), a recently divorced local roving news reporter, is looking forward to single life until his parents’ marital problems unexpectedly derail his plans. When Nathan finally breaks the news of his divorce to his parents, Carol and Tom (Margo Martindale, "The Americans" and Beau Bridges, "White Collar"), his father is inspired to follow suit and stuns the family when he leaves his wife of 43 years. Already in shock, Nathan is even more aghast when his meddlesome mother decides to move in with him. Meanwhile, his absent-minded dad imposes upon Nathan’s sister and her husband Adam. As Nathan and his sister settle in with their truly impossible parents, they both wonder just how long the aggravating adjustment period is going to last.
From creator Michael Caleo ("The Sopranos") comes the gritty one-hour drama "Ironside." Detective Robert Ironside (Blair Underwood, "Sex and the City") is a tough and fearless NYPD cop who is out for justice. He and his trusted team of specialists will do whatever it takes to solve some of the city’s most notorious crimes – even if it means breaking the rules. And despite having shattered his spine by a bullet two years ago, nothing stops Ironside from taking the bad guys down.
Written and produced by Jason Katims ("Parenthood") and directed by Jon Favreau ("Iron Man") comes a light-hearted comedy ‘about a young boy.’ Will Freeman (David Walton, "Bent") lives a charmed existence as the ultimate man-child. After writing a hit song, he was granted a life of free time, free love and freedom from financial woes. Soon, needy, single mom (Minnie Driver, "Good Will Hunting") and her oddly charming 11-year-old son Marcus (Benjamin Stockham, "1600 Penn") move in next door and disrupt Will’s perfect world. Over time, Will develops a newfound friendship that teaches him something he never thought possible to care less about himself and more about others.
One of New York's most beloved news anchors, Mike Henry (Michael J. Fox, "The Good Wife"), put his career on hold to spend more time with his family and focus on his health after being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. Five years later, with the kids growing up and Mike growing restless, he decides it’s time to go back to work. Mike is determined to succeed in juggling home, family and career, just like the old days -- only better.
Sean (Sean P. Hayes, "Will & Grace") is a divorced dad who's trying to juggle it all. From his overbearing boss and offbeat employees at work to his pushy mom Lorna (Linda Lavin, "Alice") and teenage daughter Ellie (Sami Isler, "Homerun"), Sean is finding out that balancing life is no easy task.
This half-hour comedy is about four single guys who unexpectedly find camaraderie through their many missteps in love. Carter, (Christopher Nicholas Smith, "Fake It Till You Make It") who recently moved into the building complex after being ditched at the altar, is eager to re-enter the dating scene. Along the way he gets advice from his “band of brothers”: Frank Russo (Tony Shalhoub, "Monk"), a successful middle-aged clothing manufacturer and four-time divorcée who still fancies himself a ladies’ man; Gil Bartis (Kal Penn, "House"), a small business owner who was caught having the world’s worst affair; and Stuart Strickland (Jerry O’Connell, "The Defenders"), a Speedo-wearing OB/GYN who is hiding his assets until his divorce is settled. Armed with a hot tub, a pool-side barbeque and plenty of questionable advice, these six-time losers in the marriage department take Carter under their wing to impart their own brand of wisdom about the opposite sex.
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