Monday, June 1, 2015

REVIEW: 'Devious Maids' Reveals Who Died and Who Got Shot After Rosie & Spence's Wedding in 'Awakenings'

Lifetime's Devious Maids - Episode 3.01 "Awakenings"

Lives are changed forever following the shooting at Rosie and Spence's wedding. A familiar couple returns to Beverly Hills with their new, mysterious daughter.

Devious Maids lost its way in its second season. The lines between intentional and unintentional comedy continued to blur in a way that made the show ridiculousness but not fun. The four central maids rarely interacted any more even though their friendship is suppose to be the backbone of the series. Notice how Marisol, Zoila, Rosie and Carmen spend a lot of time together in this first episode back. That is deliberate. Conflict between the four of them as friends is great. As is, them rallying when one of them lands in the hospital.

The big shooting cliffhanger that ended the second season was bad because it was the show buying into its own delusions. It all occurred because of one psychotic kid who had interacted with some of the regular characters but ultimately only hurt the ones he was not familiar with. That kind of a cliffhanger has become such a cliche in soap operas such as Devious Maids. There needs to be some serious repercussions from it. Otherwise it completely loses its power and the show is even less respectable than it already was. Characters who have been on the show needed to die and be wounded. That trauma needed to create meaningful story for the main quartet of protagonists. There was no way they would perish but that means they had to be seriously effected by this tragedy. But in the execution, the reveal of who died and who survived is just so lackluster. Only three people were shot - Pablo, a tertiary recurring character; the Priest, a glorified extra; and Rosie, a lead who would never in a million years die on the same day as her wedding.

So the outcome of the shooting doesn't work. The emotional issues that the regular characters would face in the aftermath should still be monumental. And yet, it isn't. After the shooting, the action moves forward four months just as Rosie awakes from her coma. Everyone's lives have changed. No one is planning for a funeral or mourning anymore. In fact, it's yet another instance where some characters have progressed massively in their character arcs (Marisol's book has been released and she has been too busy for her friends, Carmen has for some reason gotten over the fact that Sebastian is married) while others haven't moved at all (Zoila still hasn't done anything meaningful with her pregnancy). That's a narrative choice the show likes doing a lot. But it also takes away the emotional weight and importance of last season's cliffhanger.

Everyone is sad that Pablo was killed. Or at least they say so in order to comfort Zoila, because realistically none of them actually knew him well enough to actually be mourning his passing. But that is not the thing that is driving either Zoila or Valentina's story forward. Zoila is too busy freaking out over what she is going to do with this pregnancy news that she can't keep a secret for much longer. Meanwhile, Valentina and Remy are off in their own world in a story that would happen a week after the shooting, not four months later. It's all very weird plotting that occurs because of the show's distinct tone that mixes these outrageous and over-the-top comedic beats with a mysterious thriller narrative. It doesn't work because I've lost almost all interest in the core characters.

But that's not even the worst part of this premiere. No, that honor goes to the sudden and mysterious return of Taylor and Michael Stappord with their new daughter. It appears the show has learned nothing from the second season. In fact, the show is only doubling down on the crazy but mysterious and alluring kid construct. It didn't work last season with the shooter. And now, the show is attempting to build an entirely new mystery around this little girl and the mystery of where she came from and what the Stappords are being forced to do. It's completely ridiculousness. The show wants to take it seriously. They aren't allowed to be campy and funny because they have to be serious and introducing the season's new mystery. It's a mystery that doesn't work because there is nothing intriguing about it. Why should anyone care what the Stappord's are up to? Why should this little girl be important? Why can't the show just focus around the details of the regular characters' lives? Why does it need to have this whole mystery? Right now, it only seems to be effecting the secondary characters who return after taking last season off - plus newcomer Blanca (played by Naya Rivera and considering she's just a guest star I'm guessing she's not long for this world). Evelyn may be getting pulled into the story as well. But it's not a major concern for the four leads of the show. That's just the making of a very unfortunate main story for the season - on top of it just being utterly ridiculousness. It's just another sensationalized murder for a show where death is becoming more and more common and less emotional. This premiere does nothing to change the problems the show had in year two. Unfortunately, it just feels like more of the same.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Awakenings" was written by Marc Cherry & Brian Tanen and directed by David Warren.
  • Marisol and Carmen living together and figuring out what the next step in their lives should be has the potential to be interesting. Those character are suppose to be friends and by putting them in this situation they can now actually act like it. Also, has the show ever addressed why Marisol simply doesn't go back to the job she had before she went undercover as a maid?
  • Also, Zoila is the only one of the four leads who is still working as a maid, right? Marisol doesn't have to because of her book, Rosie has just gotten married, and Carmen was dependent on Sebastian and his money. Being a maid is what brought these women together. And now, it seems like the show is pulling away from that.
  • No mention at all of the "surprising" revelation that Rosie's first husband is still alive. Not much of a surprise considering what happens to her in the premiere - even though the story of Spence doing porn is just completely random and weird.
  • Adrian seeing a dominatrix regularly just isn't a story that should be happening. He and Evelyn are the two most delightfully campy characters. This story could work with them. I just don't want to see it.
  • In fact, I may actually be done with Devious Maids after this premiere. It just isn't as fun as it was back in that first season. The characters and the storytelling no longer intrigue or excite me. It's simply a collection of old and tired tropes trying to be presented in new ways but ultimately just coming across as the same.