Inspired by a popular Mexican telenovela and executive produced by Eva Longoria and her Desperate Housewives boss Marc Cherry, Lifetime’s new nighttime soap, Devious Maids, stars Ana Ortiz (Ugly Betty), Dania Ramirez (Entourage), Roselyn Sanchez (Without a Trace), Edy Ganem (Livin’ Loud) and Judy Reyes (Scrubs) as housekeepers chasing a better life of their own while working for Beverly Hills’ wealthiest families.
Like Housewives, the series begins with the women’s stories unfolding as one of their own dies under mysterious circumstances. But if you think that Devious Maids is just Desperate Housekeepers in a tonier locale, you’re in for a juicy surprise that makes for sultry summer-escape viewing.
“The tone of the piece is very different,” Cherry says. “Certainly I mix my comedy and my drama and there’s an acidic edge to a lot of the humor, as well as some fun social commentary — but this time in terms of the issues of class and race in Beverly Hills as opposed to the plights of stay-at-home moms in the suburbs.”
Cherry admits that he had no interest in retooling a Spanish-language soap about crafty maids for American audiences — until he began thinking back to his pre-writing days as a personal assistant to Designing Women star Dixie Carter, and his current relationships with his own house management staff. “I realized that I’d seen a lot and a lot had been imprinted on me about how that relationship is so very different from just a normal employer-employee relationship,” he says. “How much you become a part of that person’s life and how you help them in ways that are really very intimate … I became very intrigued with the idea of saying something about this.”
Cherry says he also welcomed the chance to create an ensemble show with an all-Latina core cast. “The only role where I had an actress in mind when I was writing the part was Roselyn Sanchez, because Roselyn was actually the second choice for Gabrielle Solis in Desperate Housewives — which is a little-known fact,” Cherry says of penning the role of aspiring singer Carmen to highlight Sanchez’s serious pipes. “Roselyn has an accent, and at the last second, I thought it would be better if Gabrielle didn’t have an accent. But I was so charmed by Roselyn that I thought, ‘I’ve got to do something for her at some point.’”
As for familiar faces from his former hit showing up in Beverly Hills, Cherry says he has a few surprises up his sleeve. But Longoria’s Gabrielle Solis isn’t one of them — at least for now. “My goal is next season, she’s going to take her first attempt at directing an episode,” Cherry says of his producing partner. “My hope is that we will also convince her to step in front of the camera, but directing is something that Eva has long had an ambition for. So until we film it, I don’t want to make any promises I can’t keep.”
Devious Maids airs Sundays at 10/9CT on Lifetime beginning June 23.