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This Netflix Show MAID Waves, But Did it Fall Short?

How many times have you seen a domestic violence shelter depicted on television? Our guess is you could count it on one hand. MAID is a tiny peek into the complicated system thrust on survivors after they escape abuse, while also tackling the complications of poverty and parenthood as a survivor.

MAID on Netflix is gaining acclaim as viewers have been captivated by the story of young mother Alex who escapes her emotionally abusive boyfriend. After having a bottle thrown at her and picking the pieces out of her daughter Maddy’s hair, Alex decided she did not want Maddy to grow up in the same environment she did. She packs up a few of her belongings, including Maddy’s dollar store Ariel doll “Schmariel,” and leaves.

This show is an interesting take on displaying domestic violence on television. Often, movies and television shows romanticize abusive relationships or only portray physical forms of violence. So, it is a refreshing take on this issue, pushing the narrative of emotional abuse and intimidation into the forefront.

It is important to watch with this in mind: this story, though impactful and based on author Stephanie Land’s life story, no community is a monolith. No one individual can completely capture the experience of all survivors in their story, and it is still important to continue educating ourselves after consuming material like this because of the intersectional nature of domestic violence and the specific barriers people of color, LGBTQIA+ individuals, and others face.

Let’s break down some of the highlights and opportunities this show had:


  • -Rarely do we see the journey of a survivor in a show from beginning through various parts of their journey—both of healing and of seeking services. This show truly sheds a light on the complexity of seeking services and the emotional toll it takes on survivors and their children.
  • -MAID also documents the dynamics of and harm of financial abuse. Because Alex’s access to finances was barred by her partner, her limited resources exacerbate the trauma she is already experiencing, and we see this documented as she pays for gas, groceries, and other necessities while viewers watch her bank balance slowly decrease on the screen.
  • -The cycle of power and control was displayed incredibly well in this show. The series will often flashback to when Alex’s relationship was happy, when she and her partner were in a good place. Her partner promises to never abuse her again. He promises to get his life together and treat her with more respect. This cycle is all too familiar to survivors.

Opportunities for Improvement:

Several things displayed in this show might cause confusion for those who do not work in domestic violence services. It’s important that we dispel some of the myths that were perpetuated in this series.

  • -Alex is encouraged to speak with a social worker in order to enter services at an emergency shelter after she escapes her abusive partner. This might encourage some sort of misconception that you have to seek services from a social worker to access services at a domestic violence center. That is untrue of CASA’s services, we do accept referrals but we do not require them!
  • -Some, but not all, domestic violence centers might have chore lists and other tasks for those staying in shelter. In MAID, the emergency shelter Alex stays at does. However, we function from an empowerment model, meaning we want to empower survivors to make their own choices and own their schedule. So, we do not have a set or required chore list.
  • -Again, some but not all domestic violence centers might ask for survivors to make phone calls off site. This was displayed in the show. CASA’s emergency shelter and other centers for service do not require this.

Overall, this 10-episode Netflix installation is heartfelt and raw, an amazing step in the right direction to display survivors of violence in a more accurate way, depicting their struggles and the barriers survivors inevitably face when escaping violence. It’s a great source of education, and we recommend watching.

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