Episode 1 of Maid begins with a woman named Alex snatching up her daughter Maddy and taking off in the middle of the night. Broken glass glitters like diamonds on the floor but she ignores all of this, intent on hurrying away from her partner, Sean.
Halfway up the road, Alex runs out of gas, prompting her to stop by the station to fill up. With $18.00 to her name, slick expository text shows how quickly Alex’s remaining cash goes down. Unfortunately she has no place to go, and is forced to sleep out in her car.
In the morning, a police office raps on the door and Alex is forced to move on. She heads to the council and hands over her forms, trying to get help. The advisor there, Jody, encourages her to head over to a DV shelter but given she’s not an abuse victim (according to her) and she’s not homeless either, she’s a bit stuck.
This interview works beautifully, exuding exposition about Alex’s past in a natural way, pointing out her rough upbringing, a flamboyant mother and a revolving door of high schools.
Jody, throws her a bone and opens up a job interview for a place called Value Maids. Only, this would mean trying to find care for Maddy, which is easier said than done. Her flamboyant, “free spirit” Mother is a bit of a loose cannon, shacked up with sleazy boyfriend Basil.
Alex heads to her interview while leaving Maddy in Paula’s care but it’s a tough gig. She’s starting immediately, with a 3 hour clean. What originally starts out as a lucrative deal, soon whittles down to scraping by on pennies, given the ferry ride across to Fisher Island and the need to buy her own supplies.
The house she’s given to clean is absolutely stunning but it’s run by a pretentious and rude owner, Regina. She berates Alex for showing up 30 minutes late and acts nonchalantly when Alex passes out on the job upstairs from exhaustion.
Still, Alex works hard to clean as best she can, scrubbing the house and throwing away piles and piles of food.
Alex just about makes the ferry ride back too, and the minute she gets signal back on her phone, it blows up with missed calls from Paula. Given the lack of signal – and her mother’s inability to actually listen – Paula has rung Sean to pick up Maddy. She’s currently at his trailer.
When Alex heads inside, painful memories from the previous night flash back. Sean is clearly a violent drunk, throwing glass around and shouting profanities at her. The previous night, Alex had to pick glass out of Maddy’s hair, which was the breaking point for her and something she’s not willing to do again.
Out on the road, Maddy throws her toy out the window, prompting Alex to rush out to try and find it, pulling over at the side of the road. A mighty crash sends shivers down Alex’s spine as she turns and finds a car has smashed into the back of hers. Thankfully, Maddy is okay but she’s given a ticket and forced to pay the bills for that – and the tow truck arriving too. Yeah, it’s not cheap.
Alex and Maddy are well and truly screwed, and in fact Alex is forced to pick up any personal items from the car before leaving, given it’s being taken away. The pair do manage to get a lift down to the ferry port though, where they spend the rest of the night.
The Episode Review
Wow, what an opening episode. This show looks like it could be something special, with a beautifully edited opener, a great bit of acting and an engrossing story. There’s definitely echoes of Pursuit of Happyness here, especially with that constant crippling line of poverty looming.
The divides between rich and poor are subtle but enough to really show the growing gap between the wealthy and everyone else. The amount of food that Regina has Alex throw out is astonishing – and all of it looks absolutely fresh and fine to eat!
Away from that though, the abusive relationship, the anger and the very clear resentment is subtle but enough to paint a much larger picture that many going through this will relate to. All may seem well on the surface, and one may convince themselves they’re not an abuse victim, but the truth is they most certainly are.
From the opening moment to the closing beat, Maid is utterly captivating and looks like it could pave way for something very special. Roll on the next episode!