Many people rely on media to provide reliable information and frame their opinions about events of life. However, the challenge is to ascertain the accurate representation of races in television shows. This essay explores how race is portrayed in the Devious Maids with a focus on Latinos. In particular, it aims to explain how the show stereotypes characters by their race and limits or expands viewers’ understanding of the racial identity.
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Devious Maids focuses on four Latino maids, who work for “the wealthiest and influential families in the Beverly Hills” (Thompson 1). The maids team up with a newcomer to uncover the truth behind the murder of a maid, and they eventually become allies in their lives.
Although Devious Maids has gained recognition as a show with all Latino casts, its critics have ignored the cast and insisted that the show’s depiction of Latino women promotes stereotyping and unacceptable.
However, many critics claim that Latinos should be proud because their “numbers and depiction on television shows have increased in the past few years” (Thompson 1). Thus, Latinos can find characters they relate closely in almost every network. However, stereotypical roles continue to define Latinos on television shows. According to Thompson, Latinos still play the role of “a ditsy but forgivable housewife, a confident but compassionate prison inmate, cold-blooded and calculating drug dealers, and devious and seductive housemaids” (Thompson 1). On the same note, Rodriguez noted that there were four Hs associated with Latinos in Hollywood. The four Hs stereotype Latinos as “either the overly hormonal (“Oh Mamacita, I have to have you”), overly hysterical (“Lucy!”), overly hostile (“I’ll cut you sucka!”), or overly humble (“We are poor people”)” (Rodriguez 1). These Hs have become the Hollywood formula for depicting Latinos, and they provide accounts of why Latinos do not play significant roles, leaders, or heroes in shows (Rodriguez 1).
Not all television shows portray Latinos negatively. There are series, which depict Latinos as doctors, nurses, police officers, judges, lawyers, and teachers. However, in most cases, Latinos are associated with negative roles in television shows. They could be “criminals, gardeners, maids, and dropouts” (Thompson 1). These negative depictions of Latinos do not represent the whole Latino community. However, the first impression from people who do not interact with Latinos is the portrayals they watch on television shows, which they are likely to believe. Thus, such misrepresentation of races could be detrimental.
Devious Maids has supporters too. For instance, some critics observe that characters’ roles or their jobs do not make their stories less vital in a community. In other words, maids in Devious Maids are not defined by their jobs or incomes. Instead, the television shows focus on telling a real, compelling story of immigrants. Although the characters happen to be maids, which is their job, the show reflects people and not jobs. It focuses on culture and portrays them as adoring, affectionate women (Moreno 1). Devious Maids is all about hard work and the struggle in pursuit of the American Dream.
Despite such supports, many Americans believe in media stereotypes because of what they watch on television series. Therefore, such negative stereotypes will continue to dominate shows and portray Latinos as poorly educated, live on welfare, and take low paying jobs from Whites. While positive depictions may emphasize their constructive characters, negative stereotypes continue to be the key roles that Latinos project in their shows.
The problem of stereotyping Latinos has become consistent, and it could be a reality for many Americans. This explains why some critics of Devious Maids call it ‘a wasted opportunity and disappointing’ because lead producers like Eva Longoria have failed to show the exact reality of Latinos (Moreno 1). Moreover, such critics have claimed that Devious Maids undermines and disregards several years of Civil Right work.
Based on historical context, television shows have ignored Latinos, but their numbers of shows have increased. However, some believe that Latinos in Devious Maids or any other exhibit should choose their roles “more wisely and create characters that transcend” (Moreno 1). Although there are many Latinos in Hollywood now than ever before, they fail to develop in terms of characterization. Moreover, the increase of Latinos in Hollywood has not changed stereotyping or enhanced the accurate representation of the community. Consequently, one can only appreciate the diversity, which such characters bring on television shows and if possible question the authenticity of such shows.
Overall, media have critical roles in presenting how certain people are portrayed, and that has critical consequences in a community. Although one can argue that characters in Devious Maids portray positive aspects of their roles, they still exhibit elements of stereotyping and fail to reflect authenticity associated with Latino culture, diversity, and unique experiences. Therefore, Latinos need to reinvent their roles and portray themselves as professionals with authentic characters. Devious Maids only perpetuates stereotyping of characters by their race and limits viewers’ understanding of the racial identity of Latinos as lead characters continue to play by the rules that exist.
Moreno, Carolina. ‘Devious Maids’ Criticism: Lifetime Series Continues To Draw Cultural Backlash For Latina Stereotypes. 2013. Web.
Rodriguez, Cindy. Does Hollywood have a Latino problem? 2014. Web.
Thompson, Nicole Akoukou. Mo’ Latinos, Same Problems: Negative Portrayal of Latinos Continue in the Media, Despite More Latino Talent on the Screen. 2013. Web.