Photo: Guy D'Alema/Lifetime

Let Devious Maids Sneak Onto Your Friday-Night Half-Watch Docket

Marc Cherry and Eva Longoria bring us an anglo telenovela.

Show: Devious Maids, which airs Sundays at 10 PM on Lifetime.

Plot: Maid Flora (Paula Garcés) is found dead in a pool in the middle of a swanky party thrown by her employers, the Powells, sending shockwaves through the rest of the maids in the Beverly Hills neighbourhood where she worked -- including the arrival of Marisol (Ana Ortiz), newly hired as a maid by the Stappords, friends of the Powells. And while it's suspect that Marisol doesn't have an accent, who would care to dig too far into her situation when she's so willing to come clean for the Powells on her day off?

Soapy Intrigue: Marisol is secretly searching for information about Flora, and about the Powells, Adrian (Tom Irwin) and Evelyn (Rebecca Wisocky), because Marisol's son was the party waiter arrested for Flora's murder. Meanwhile, all of Flora's old friends have scandalous stories of their own: Rosie (Dania Ramirez) is trying to bring her son to America, and using what she knows about her lady boss Peri's (Mariana Klaveno) affair to further her cause, even as her man boss Spence (Grant Show) seems to be falling for Rosie. Mother Zoila (Judy Reyes) is trying to put up love barriers between her daughter, fellow maid Valentina (Edy Ganem), and her boss Genevieve's (Susan Lucci) son Remi (Drew Van Acker), because Zoila had her heart broken years ago in a doomed love affair with Genevieve's brother -- but now Genevieve is counter-scheming to get Remi and Valentina together. And Carmen (Roselyn Sanchez) is so desperate to leverage all possible connections to get her recording career off the ground that she's screwing over Sam (Wolé Parks), the nice driver co-worker who's crazy about her.

What It Will Remind You Of: Desperate Housewives, because it's also produced by Marc Cherry (adapted from a Mexican telenovela).

What’s Best About It: Ortiz, often the best thing about Ugly Betty, is still marvelous; though we don't know much about her character yet, it's pretty clear she's not actually a maid, and she's great at choking down bile at the casual racism thrown at her. Reyes is also believably world-weary, even if seeing her as the mother of a young adult is jarring. Also, nearly all the employers are excellent monsters you love to hate, particularly Irwin as a total pervert.

What’s Worst About It: Ramirez, Ganem, and Sanchez are...not so hot.

But If I Save It Until Friday, Don’t I Risk Having Someone Spoil It For Me Before I Watch It? This is over-the-top camp more than a real story, even with the whodunit aspect. You're good.

Finally, And Most Importantly, Do the Female Leads Wear Cute Outfits? The younger Beverly Hills ladies do; the older ones can be a bit matronly. And the maids who don't have to wear uniforms are great at putting together bright, fun casual looks with sensible shoes, like hot young moms in Febreze commercials.

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