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'Devious Maids' Racist? Eva Longoria, Producers Accused Of Racism; What Do You Think? [VIDEO]

By Melanie Ehrenkranz on June 21, 2013 4:26 PM EDT 0

Devious Maids
Lifetime's 'Devious Maids' premieres Sunday, June 23 and is already receiving criticism for negative Latina stereotypes. Executive Producer Eva Longoria deflects the controversial claims. (Photo: Lifetime/Devious Maids)

The "Devious Maids" pilot airs Sunday, June 23 on Lifetime, and the dramedy is already sparking controversy and accusations of racism. "Desperate Housewives" creator Marc Cherry and actress Eva Longoria serve as executive producers of "Devious Maids" and deflect claims that the show portrays Latinas in demeaning, stereotypical roles.

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"Devious Maids is a show that centers on five (count 'em), five Latinas who are bonded together by their jobs, their ambitions, their dreams and their life struggles," Eva Longoria explained. "The five women are maids by occupation only; it is what they do, not who they are."

"Are maids a realistic reflection of Latinas in America today??" she mused. "Yes, but they are not a reflection of every Latina."

"Stereotypes are constructed and perpetuated by those who believe in them. I choose not to," she wrote. "The only way to break a stereotype is to not ignore it. The stereotype we are grappling with here is that as Latinas, all we are is maids. And yet, this is a show that deconstructs the stereotype by showing us that maids are so much more," Longoria says, according to E! Online.

The Mexican telenovela adaptation centers on four Latina women who work as maids for the affluent and powerful in Beverly Hills. Mirroring ABC's "Desperate Housewives", the "Devious Maids" pilot opens with a tragedy - the murder of a fellow maid. Ana Ortiz ("Ugly Betty"), Judy Reyes ("Scrubs") Dania Ramirez ("Entourage") and Roselyn Sanchez ("Without A Trace") star as the leading ladies.

Eva Longoria isn't the only "Devious Maids" stakeholder defending the upcoming Lifetime show. Actress Roselyn Sanchez says, "And it's about the stories. Forget about we're maids. We're human beings and we're incredible women and the stories are deserving. They're beautiful stories."

Co-star Ana Ortiz agrees, "The more we talk about it, the more people are aware of it, the better," she says, according to Yahoo News.

Writer Tanisha L. Ramirez wrote an op-ed piece in Huffington Post last month declaring the "Devious Maids" series a "wasted opportunity", TV Guide reports.

"The series is the first mainstream, English-language television drama featuring five Latina main characters, which is - for better or for worse - a novel concept even in this day and age. Not novel, however, is the fact that all - count 'em, all! - of the main characters play 'devious' maids. It just all seems like a missed opportunity to diversify the roles played by Latinas," Ramirez wrote.

"I think we've done five super positive portrayals of Latina women who are both devious and smart but have dreams of their own and are pursuing them with all the gusto in the world," Executive Producer Marc Cherry said, Yahoo News reports. "And I think people are gonna get a kick out of watching these characters on their journeys."

Will "Devious Maids" see the success of Marc Cherry and Eva Longoria's "Desperate Housewives" or struggle in the face of controversy? The debate over stereotyping Latinas as maids appears to be divided between those who believe "Devious Maids" characters are portrayed as in-depth characters (who they are), versus critics who think the characters are stereotyped by their race and job (what they do). What do you think? Let us know in the comment section.

Here is the synopsis for the "Devious Maids" pilot according to the website:

The women turn to one another for support when their friend and fellow maid Flora (Paula Garces) is brutally murdered at the home of her employers, Evelyn and Adrian Powell (Rebecca Wisocky and Tom Irwin), at one of the largest society events of the year. Meanwhile, newcomer Marisol (Ana Ortiz) is hired to clean the home of Taylor and Michael Stappord (Brianna Brown and Brett Cullen), a newlywed couple with a complicated love history. But Marisol has ulterior motives and when someone she loves becomes wrapped up in Flora's murder, she goes undercover to learn the truth. 

Watch the "Devious Maids" premiere on Lifetime on June 23 at 10 PM ET.

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