Overwhelming in more ways than one, Maid sees Margaret Qualley play Alex, a mother who suffers at the hands of her alcoholic boyfriend’s verbal and emotional abuse. As she comes to terms with her situation, she begins to fight and move forward for the sake of her daughter. The series affords complex layers to both the victim and the abuser, offering small glimpses into the lives of domestic abuse victims. All of Alex’s ups and downs stir varying degrees of emotion within the viewer as one becomes invested in both her successes and failures.
She is a very likeable protagonist, largely down to Qualley’s own personal charm. However, the writing for the character lacks a lot of fundamental personality traits: while it’s understandable that her initial presentation is awkward because, as the series progresses, she becomes stronger and more assertive, this only works if there’s a distinct difference between her current passivity and how she’s presented in the flashbacks. As it stands, there’s not much distinction – she’s equally as bland and one-note then as she is now.
The moments where Alex shines brightest are when she’s interacting with other female characters. She forms interesting relationships with them, whether in the fun heist-like banter she has with Danielle or the reverse parent-child dynamic she has with Paula, her mother (Andie MacDowell). These interactions are the core of the series; they surprise with unexpected humour, and create tone in otherwise dull stretches. The series’s strongest highlight is definitely the bonds formed, and how strongly female relationships are presented.
Retrospective storytelling provides the main structure for the narrative, with camera angles in flashbacks alluding to key moments in Alex’s life. This allows the audience to truly understand her perspective without too much verbal exposition. That said, these angles are at times inconsistent, sometimes showcasing events through her eyes, elsewhere through an outsider perspective. Furthermore, these little snippets make the turn of events and roles of specific characters down the line easier to guess. This can have the effect of downplaying the intensity of the experience. But all these minor inconveniences cannot compare to how well the form works to deliver the story, which is what makes Maid an overall worthwhile watch.
Maid is released on Netflix on 1st October 2021.
Watch the trailer for Maid here: