By Sierra Voorhies
Content warnings: abuse and homelessness
I recently watched Maid, a new series on Netflix. The series is based on the book Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land, which is Land’s memoir exploring her experience working below the poverty line to provide for herself and her daughter.
Not only were the performances of Margaret Qualley, Nick Robinson, and Andie MacDowell amazing, the show also brought women’s issues and poverty to center stage. As Brooke explained last week, domestic violence is often a gendered issue affecting cis women and their children.
In Maid, we see Margaret Qualley’s character, Alex, leave her partner Sean while he is sleeping in order to avoid a violent encounter. We then witness the ups and downs of Alex trying to provide for herself and her daughter, Maddy.
When she leaves Sean, Alex becomes homeless. She and Maddy get kicked out of a parking lot that they were sleeping in, and they even spend a night on the floor of a ferry station. Unfortunately, this reflects how many women who’ve escaped an abusive relationship become homeless.
Alex reaches out to everyone she can. She can’t stay with her mom long-term due to her mother’s untreated Bipolar Disorder putting her and her daughter in danger. Alex tries to rely on her friends and family with no luck. When she tries to utilize government assistance, she runs into an unescapable loop: she can’t find a place to live or daycare for Maddy without a job, but she can’t get a job if she has her daughter with her. The expenses of childcare affects many Americans, and is especially hard on those with low incomes and single parents. With nowhere else to turn, Alex eventually moves back in with her ex, Sean. Sean picks up where he left off, emotionally abusing Alex by getting rid of her car, refusing to let her have access to a telephone, and neglecting to bring home food or money from his work.
Eventually Alex pulls herself out of Sean’s orbit again and this time has the resources and support in order for them to start a new life in Michigan, where she goes to college for creative writing.
This show was so impactful, and if you’ve ever experienced this kind of situation, you will surely find it hard to watch. But I am so glad it’s on Netflix so we can all practice compassion and gain a greater understanding for people experiencing homelessness, especially women escaping domestic violence. Great mothers can be homeless and unable to provide for their children sometimes, and it’s powerful to fall in love with characters who represent this very human struggle, that could affect any of us.