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Creator Of Netflix’s Maid Talks Tackling Emotional Abuse

Netflix’s Maid is an adaptation of the best-selling book of the same title, which is based on the true story of a mom trying to escape an abusive relationship. Starring Margaret Qualley as Alex, Maid is a beautiful journey that takes an honest look at motherhood, various forms of government assistance, and multiple types of abuse. Creator Molly Smith Metzler has shared how she and her team tackled the sentitive topic of emotional abuse. 

Throughout Maid, many of the obstacles that Alex (Margaret Qualley) faces are overlooked and misunderstood, both by those in her inner circle and outside of it. At the start of the series, Alex herself is unaware that her biggest obstacle, emotional abuse by her boyfriend and child’s father, is, in fact, abuse. I spoke with creator Molly Smith Metzler about the gap in understanding, knowledge, and empathy between physical and emotional abuse, and she shared the following:

Emotional abuse and the fact that it is just as corrosive and crippling and violent as physical abuse is a subject that's very close to my heart. It's very important to me. And part of what excited me about adapting Maid is the opportunity to show that on screen [and] portrayed accurately. Because I don't think we get to spend 10 hours with somebody going through this very often. I did a lot of research to make sure I understood the subject. One of the things that is cool, is that Alex doesn't know she's being abused. She doesn't know that emotional abuse is domestic violence. And I wanted the audience to go on that same journey and to come out understanding that it is. It's a horror house to be stuck in that cycle that she gets stuck in. So I brought a lot of personal experience to it, but I also put that aside and really researched it. And I spent a lot of time in a domestic violence shelter here in Los Angeles. They were unbelievably nice to me, very kind. And I got to speak to some victims as well and hear their stories. So if it feels real on screen, it's cause it is.

To call the ten-episode journey of Maid emotional is an understatement. In a world where so much our perspective comes from what we can see and touch, it is hard to fully grasp emotional abuse. Nick Robinson is fantastic in the role of Sean, who plays opposite Margaret Qualley’s Alex. Sean is not a bad guy, and he’s not malicious, which adds to the confusion around emotional abuse, but also the education. The character makes emotionally manipulative choices to get what he wants, to the detriment of his girlfriend and daughter, which are unmistakably emotional abuse by the end of the series.

Maid also addresses the difficultly of receiving government assistance. Alex needs a job to get a job, she needs proof of abuse but doesn’t have any bruises, and is supposed to support her daughter with food, clothing, and childcare with a job that barely pays enough for her own needs. Alex becomes a maid, hence the title, which provides a window into many other lives as she cleans houses, and learns more about herself as she learns about the homeowners. 

All ten episodes of Maid are now streaming on Netflix.

Samantha LaBat

Obsessed with Hamilton and most things Disney. Gets too attached to TV show characters. Loves a good thriller, but will only tolerate so much blood.