Home > Culture > Life > 7 Powerful Messages About Motherhood From ‘Maid’ On Netflix

From the opening scene in Maid where protagonist Alex (Margaret Qualley) sneaks into her car in the middle of the night with her 4-year-old daughter in tow, we knew we were in for an emotionally tense viewing experience. Maid, the much-talked-about drama currently streaming on Netflix, offers an unflinching depiction of the vicious cycle of poverty, domestic abuse, and homelessness for a young single mother with limited means and a non-existent support system. And yet, despite the heavy subject matter, intertwined in the narrative is a beautiful and heart-warming relationship between Alex and her adorable daughter Maddy. We look at some of the powerful messages that we gleaned from watching Maid but note: major spoilers ahead!

1. The voices of mothers from disadvantaged backgrounds often go unheard

Film, TV and other forms of dominant media are predominantly run and owned by those of the middle and affluent classes. As such, people from poorer communities are often unheard, or when they are they are portrayed it’s often from a perspective that’s one dimensional and lacking in nuance. Maid is refreshing because it centres the voice of Alex – a young, unemployed mum who flees her boyfriend’s trailer due to his emotional abuse. We can’t think when we last saw a lead character who had all the tropes that the world often shuns: single motherhood/poverty/state dependency. For the enrichment of society, it’s crucial that the voices of the voiceless are amplified and hopefully programmes like Maid will usher in a movement where mothers from all walks of life are given the opportunity to tell their story.

2. The perfect life doesn’t exist

When Alex is sent to clean the house of Regina (played by Annika Noni Rose), her new boss appears to have it all: a thriving career, handsome hubby and an immaculate, sprawling mansion. But under the veneer of perfection, Regina was dealing with torment caused by a lack of true connection with her husband as well as fertility struggles. The scenes between Regina and Alex were so powerful. They both saw in each other what they desired – Alex hankered for Regina’s money, power and influence, meanwhile Regina longed for the quiet simplicity of Alex’s life and the indelible bond which often occurs between mother and child. The scenes between the two remind us that we shouldn’t make assumptions about the lives of other women based on outward appearances and preconceived ideas based on social status.

3. The mother/daughter relationship can be a complex one

During the earlier episodes of Maid, we couldn’t help but wonder where Alex’s parents were as she battled with homelessness and had to jump through hoops just to get a short stint in temporary accommodation with her infant daughter Maddy. When we finally meet Alex’s mum Paula (brilliantly played by Andi MacDowall) we instantly understand why. The dynamics between mother and daughter were tense from the start, and the barbed dialogue suggested that their bond was a tenuous one to put it mildly. As the series progressed, the complexity of their relationship unfolded, compounded by Paula’s emotional frailty and mental health challenges. The series didn’t shy away from showing that it’s not all hugs, love, light and rainbows when it comes to the mother and daughter dynamic, and we’re certainly here for the honesty.

4. The system remains rigged against single mothers

There are so many frustrating scenes in Maid that demonstrate just how much the odds are stacked against single mothers from disadvantaged backgrounds. In one scene when Alex visits her caseworker to see how far up the list she’s moved for social housing, her quiet rage is palpable. She had to explain in painstaking in detail how she is only left with $9 dollars after paying for food and bills, due to the fact that she receives government assistance so can only work a certain number of hours. Add to that, because those limited hours are poorly paid, she’s barely left with enough to buy a box of tampons after buying basic essentials. Although Maid is based in the US, the situation is alarmingly similar in the UK. Just recently the UK national charity Gingerbread published a report outlining the devastating impact that lockdown has had on single-parent families, which is only set to worsen as we head towards increased fuel prices this winter and an end to the universal credit £20 weekly uplift. Maid holds a mirror up to the modern world and reminds us that we need to do better for those at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder.

5. The working mum experience is a universal one

Although Maid is an extreme and dramatized version of the challenges faced by a mother, so many of the themes were relatable to us as mums, particularly if you are a mum that balances motherhood with a job. Regardless of race, class, financial status, or geographical location, most working mums are likely to have dealt with some of the topics that were covered in the show, whether it’s creating the right work/life balance, finding adequate childcare, soaring childcare costs, and the difficulty of taking time off work if your child gets sick.

6. We all want the same things for our children

Alex experienced homelessness, spousal abuse, humiliation, betrayal, work exploitation and a whole host of other unpleasant experiences but faced everything head-on because she wanted to create a better life than she had for Maddy. Ultimately, we all want the same things for our children – health, happiness, a good education, a nice clean home – and these things should be accessible to all.

7. Playtime and cuddles solve everything

At the heart of the story is just a mother’s undying love for her child. Some of the most heart-warming scenes in Maid are of Alex and Maddy enjoying Mummy and daughter times. It served as a reminder that despite the challenges we endure as parents, cuddles and sloppy kisses cure a world of ills.

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