How Maid successfully captures unspoken abuse

The new Netflix series Maid released on October 1 has sparked much debate on how little emotional abuse is talked about. I began watching this series because of its popularity, but quickly realised this story is a tragedy all too common for women.

Maid follows a story of a young, 25-year-old woman called Alex (Margaret Qualley) who flees her emotionally abusive boyfriend in hopes to start a new, better life for herself and her daughter Maddy (Rylea Nevaeh Whittet).

The ten-part series is based on Stephanie Land’s memoir “Maid: hard work, low pay and a mothers’ will to survive” and is inspired by what she went through in her own abusive relationship.

Throughout the series, Alex is constantly let down by the American government’s welfare system and her own family’s support, leaving her and her daughter completely helpless; having to fend for themselves in a time of crisis. She encounters many difficulties, not only the hardship of having a toxic relationship but experiencing poverty and homelessness too.

This series effectively highlights the complexity of being penniless and leaving a relationship where the partner was the main source of income, as it is often mistaken that the female is wrong to leave as she can’t provide basic necessities, just as Alex couldn’t for Maddy.

It also shows it’s not simple and as straight forward to just get a job and start earning money, the cycle is endless when constant costs for food, fuel, housing and work supplies all add up. From an audience’s perspective it seemed Alex would never be financially stable and this was present throughout the series.

Maid successfully captures unspoken abuse, highlighting it does not always have to be physical to be abusive. The dark, tragic themes of emotional manipulation are all too real in this limited series.

When Alex says: “I’d really hate to take a bed from somebody that’s been abused for real… beaten up”, it emphasises that women who are in a toxic relationship feel their problems aren’t as important and fear of not being taken seriously means they don’t feel worthy enough to file a police report.

Many watchers have shown their love for the show on Twitter by retweeting  “#MaidNetflix” and commenting their thoughts and experiences they’ve had.

Another fan tweeted: “Maid on Netflix is one of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time”.

One more commented: “Your story has made me realise how toxic and abusive my marriage is, thankyou”.

Maid has been rated 97% on Rotten Tomatoes and is in the top three of Netflix’s most watched shows this week, indicating how loved the realness of the series is and even though the themes of abuse are hard-hitting; they are finally being recognised as a topic for conversation.

Image credit: The New York Times/Netflix

In my opinion, I love that Maid addresses real life issues and shows the harsh reality of abuse and that it is not sugar-coated into a typical drama. From the beginning to the end the protagonist, Alex, shows no bounds to her independence and the true love she feels for her daughter spurs her on to do better.

Perhaps the only flaw in this series is that for the viewer, Alex’s repetitive cycle of poverty and abuse was frustrating to watch.

However, without this it wouldn’t show the harsh reality she faced and how euphoric the ending was when she finally found her freedom.

Maid is available to stream on Netflix.

By Amber Bakin

Feature image: Netflix

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