Washing the windows is no concern when scrubbing bloody floors and covering up illicit affairs are part of your professional duties. Such filthy tasks are all in a day's work for Beverly Hills cleaning ladies Carmen, Marisol, Valentina, Rosie and Zoila. It's enough to turn anyone a little...devious.
Inspired by the hit Mexican telenovela The Disorderly Maids of the Neighborhood, the new Lifetime sudser Devious Maids was adapted for American audiences by Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry and features the same wickedly over-the-top tone. "But there are subtle differences," Cherry explains. "Devious Maids deals with themes of racism, classism and immigration. These women all work in the homes of rich people, but they have goals and dreams that are much greater than the people they work for realize."
The drama begins with the death of a mischievous maid named Flora, who was romantically involved with her sadistic employer, Adrian (Tom Irwin). It will be up to Flora's fellow maids to find out whodunit and why. Which of the women is best equipped to get the job done? Let's review their résumés.
1. Carmen Luna
Played by: Roselyn Sánchez, best known as Special Agent Elena Delgado on Without a Trace.
Special Skills: Carmen is an aspiring singer set on launching her career with the help of her pop-star employer, Alejandro Rubio (Days of Our Lives' Matt Cedeño). "I have two songs this season — one at a piano and another when a producer signs me," says Sánchez, a recording artist whose debut album, Borinqueña, was released in 2003. "I've heard Carmen becomes a superstar next season, so I'm hoping I'll get to sing even more."
Best Dustup: Her greatest adversary is Alejandro's longtime house manager, Odessa (Melinda Page Hamilton). "We can't stand each other, and then we get very close," Sánchez says of the one-legged Russian tyrant. "But if the show gets renewed, there's going to be a war between us, because I steal her crush, Sam [Wolé Parks]."
Maid of Honor: Sánchez has employed her Mexican housekeeper, Olga, for years. "She's super-excited that I'm doing this show," Sánchez says. "She's part of my family."
2. Valentina Diaz
Played by: Newcomer Edy Ganem, whose recent credits include ¡Rob! and The Cleveland Show.
Special Skills: She dreams of becoming a fashion designer, but for now, 18-year-old Valentina is content working alongside her mom, Zoila, at the home of Genevieve Delatour (Susan Lucci) — especially since Genevieve's hottie son Remi (Drew Van Acker) has moved back in.
Best Dustup: Valentina gets drawn into a catfight, "but it's not ugly," Ganem says. "It's more satirical and ridiculous."
Maid of Honor: "I've always been very independent," Ganem says. "When I first moved to L.A., I didn't have money [for rent], so I made a deal [with my roommate] to clean the common areas — and pick up the dog poop."
3. Marisol Duarte
Played by: Ana Ortiz, who provided a constant shoulder to cry on as Betty's older sister, Hilda, on Ugly Betty.
Special Skills: An educated professional posing as a maid, Marisol "has a secret agenda behind her deviousness, with the belief that the ends justify the means," says Ortiz, who describes her snoopy character as "the Puerto Rican Mariska Hargitay."
Best Dustup: "I walk in on my employers, Michael [Brett Cullen] and Taylor [Brianna Brown], having sex in the kitchen," says Ortiz.
Maid of Honor: Ortiz's own family origins read like a Devious plot. "My grandmother was stunningly beautiful and worked as a maid for a very wealthy family in Puerto Rico," she says. "She had an affair with her employer's son that resulted in the conception of my father."
4. Rosie Falta
Played by: Dania Ramírez, otherwise known as Heroes' toxic-tear-crying Maya.
Special Skills: A Mexican immigrant, Rosie came to the U.S. illegally following the death of her husband. She's desperate to reunite with her 6-year-old son. Ramírez feels a bond with the character because her own mother came to America illegally from the Dominican Republic when the actress was 6 months old, "leaving me to be raised by my grandmother and aunt," she says. "I really wanted to tell this story."
Best Dustup: "Another maid and I go head-to-head, but an even closer friendship grows from it," teases Ramírez, who hints at a possible romance with Rosie's kindhearted employer, Spence (Grant Show). "There will be an intense love scene with someone, and it's a very devious moment."
Maid of Dishonor: Ramírez had to let her own maid go when she got a bit too close for comfort. "She ended up getting pregnant and named her daughter Dania, then wanted me to pay for her daughter's birthday party," she says. "After what happened to [slain singer] Selena, it became a little too intense."
5. Zoila Diaz
Played by: Scrubs vet Judy Reyes.
Special Skills: Zoila is a fierce, controlling mother who wants to put her daughter, Valentina, through school. She has a husband at home and shares a history with the brother (Desperate Housewives' Richard Burgi) of her employer, Genevieve.
Best Dustup: "Most of my scenes are with Susan Lucci and deal with her hilarious escapades in pursuit of love," Reyes says.
Maid of Honor: "My mother cleaned a bunch of houses to make a living," Reyes says. "She did everything she could to provide for her children. She would tell us, 'I do this so you don't have to,' but with no shame attached."
Devious Maids premieres Sunday at 10/9c on Lifetime.
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