After a senior film and television actress published an open letter expressing outrage about the role’s one-dimensional and stereotyped depiction, the forthcoming Netflix series Uncoupled, starring Neil Patrick Harris, has deleted a Latina housekeeper character.
After reading for the part, Ada Maris, an American performer who has been in a number of shows since the 1980s, including Mayans MC, The Garcias, and the NBC drama Nurses, came up against what she saw as flagrant stereotyping, according to Variety.
“I was shocked when I opened it and saw that it wasn’t even funny – it was hurtful and derogatory,” Maris said. “I walked in expecting something very different given the way things are now and the progress we’ve made.”
Harris plays as a successful fortysomething new to the dating scene in New York after his marriage of 17 years walks out on him in the series developed by Darren Star (also of Sex and the City and Emily in Paris) and Jeffrey Richman. Maris auditioned for the part of Carmen, Harris’s housekeeper in the first episode of the series.
According to Variety, the character is first introduced on the phone with Harris’s character, where he is “hysterical” and talks in bad English about a potential theft. “Mister, I just arrived, and they’ve already stolen!” she exclaims. “They cheated!” They take advantage of you! “I’m not sure how they got in.”
In a later scene, Carmen grabs a glass left at the sink by Harris’s character and adds, “No, I do that.” You don’t clean well, and there’s always a ring.”
Maris was enraged by the portrayal of a Latina housekeeper, which she claimed was at variance with a trend toward more nuanced and rich representations of Latinx people. She penned an open letter to Harris and Star a few days after reading the screenplay, which she shared with Variety, urging them to avoid stereotypes of underprivileged cultures.
“You are modern gay men,” says the narrator. How would you want to see or act in an out-of-date, stereotypically homosexual role?” Maris remarked.
Harris, who serves as an executive producer on the show, was not involved in the scripting of the episode or the casting of Carmen. It’s unclear if Maris’ complaints led to the part of Carmen being written out of the series. “We’re sorry Ms Maris had a bad experience,” a Netflix spokeswoman told Variety. “This character will not appear in the series.”
Maris told Variety, “Sometimes people have to sit with the discomfort.” “I’m hoping they’ll reconsider this.” I’d like to think they’d see the damage it does to everyone. Both to Latino and non-Latino persons.”
“I’m just tired of it,” she said. “All I ask is that [writers] think about it the next time they create a character like that.” I’m speaking out for the next generation of performers, so they don’t have to deal with it as much as my generation did.”