Devious Maids is cleaning up for Lifetime.
The deliciously soapy nighttime drama, created by Desperate Housewives scribe Marc Cherry and co-executive produced by Eva Longoria, defied ABC’s rejection and early concerns about racial stereotyping to become the network’s fastest-growing scripted series ever, thanks in large part to a devoted tribe of fans who call themselves the Devious Army.
“We understood that we were treading precarious waters doing a show about maids with all Latinas,” says Judy Reyes, who plays controlling mom and maid Zoila Diaz. “But we all knew that it was a moment to seize, because it was something that had never been done before, in terms of having a show with five Latinas. It was an opportunity for all of us, as women and as actresses with our own viable resumés, to be able to individually make something of these terrific roles and then collectively to make a successful show out of that. And the wonderful thing about the Devious Army is we are able to see how our fans connected and related to it.”
“It was really a grassroots success,” Cherry adds. “People started tweeting about it and we tweeted about it and the stars of the show made a real connection with the fans and it became this word-of-mouth success. I was thrilled and relieved.”
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Cherry says the show’s second season will open a few months after Genevieve Delatour’s (Susan Lucci) ex-husband and current fiancé Philippe revealed himself as Flora’s murderer and was promptly killed by Flora’s employers Evelyn and Adrian Powell (Rebecca Wisocky, Tom Irwin). Though it ended Marisol’s (Ana Ortiz) mission to clear her son’s name, she’s landed in the middle of more turmoil courtesy of her engagement to Nicholas Deering (Mark Deklin), a wealthy widower with a devious domestic named Opal (Joanna Adler, Orange Is the New Black) and plenty of secrets of his own.
“Now our beloved Marisol is an employer and her problems with her own devious maid give her some perspective,” Cherry says. “It allowed me to write more from the employers’ point of view as a storytelling device, which was immensely fun. She will be finding out some new secrets from her husband and his weird relationship with his maid and we will get to see her wearing fabulous gowns and being as glamorous as Ana Ortiz this season!”
Marisol’s not the only maid on the brink of big changes. Realizing her husband Spence (Grant Show) was planning a future with their maid, Rosie (Dania Ramirez), Peri (Mariana Klaveno) summoned immigration agents to whisk her away. Carmen (Roselyn Sanchez) is planning a sham marriage to Alejandro (Matt Cedeño) to advance her singing career. And though Zoila’s daughter Valentina (Edy Ganem) followed her forbidden love Remi (Drew Van Acker) to Africa, the move may not be permanent for either.
“The big challenge we are doing this year is Zoila will start to have problems in her marriage, so Genevieve will be supporting Zoila over the first few episodes,” Cherry teases. “We will pick up where we left off and Valentina won’t be working at the Delatour house. She goes to work somewhere else. That will be a big surprise for the fans, to see whom we send her off to work for, and we have some lovely comedy as Genevieve tries to help Zoila with her marital problems.”
“Because her life has been cleaning houses, what’s left is control of her family,” adds Reyes. “I think all Zoila wants is that her family takes a better path, a superior path — whatever she thinks that is. But it backfires on her. She doesn’t want her daughter to repeat her mistakes, and she loses her daughter. She gets into a fierce battle with her husband that is going to affect her marriage, and she ends up getting closer to Genevieve as a result. We’re kind of like two crazy ladies hanging out.”
And what will become of poor Genevieve, now that Philippe’s a goner, her son Remi is half a world away, she’s down one domestic and all she has left is Zoila?
“That was my burning question all summer when we were on hiatus — what will become of me?!” laughs Lucci, who says she loves being recognized for a character other than Erica Kane, the All My Children diva she played for 41 years. “I can’t tell you specifically, but Judy and I have this incredible push-pull, employer-employee, codependency kind of relationship that is hilarious and also so touching. It’s a big journey and so much fun to be that roller coaster. It makes me breathless sometimes, because Erica Kane is a hard act to follow.”
Lucci says she also appreciates the opportunity to play someone who, like Kane, resonates with woman of all ages, but allows her to explore new emotional territory.
“Genevieve is less self-reliant than I — or Erica Kane — and, at the same time, she is not a victim, nor does she see herself as a victim in any way,” Lucci says. “She is someone who attracted one rich and powerful husband after another and is now feeling maybe they aren’t coming as fast and furious as they used to. She is feeling like she lost her mojo, and I think a lot of women can relate to that — to not feeling at the top of their game. She is more vulnerable than Erica was, more hopeful and romantic. It’s fabulous for me to see all the loyal fans that are following me from Erica to Genevieve and are finding her relevant and fun to watch.”
Cherry says that’s exactly what he was hoping for all of his characters — that people would tune in and realize that Devious Maids isn’t about their vocations, but rather “what they want and how they treat one another and what their dreams and aspirations are.”
“These characters are very rich and deep,” he explains. “I have written them secrets and complex histories and the more episodes we do, I think, the more people become enamored with the characters because they start to feel like they know them and they feel like friends. I work with a group of people who dazzle me with their insight and their humor, so I can’t wait for people to see what we’ve brought [this season]. I feel like I am doing the best work of my life.”
Devious Maids Season 2 premiere Sunday, April 20 on Lifetime.
Images/video: Lifetime Photo credits: Bob Mahoney