‘Mistresses’ and ‘Devious Maids’: Is There Hypocrisy in TV Democracy?

Is ABC's 'Scandal' that different from 'Mistresses?' Why are we focusing on mistresses when 'Devious Maids' is going unchecked? (Photo credit: Barton J. Taylor)

Is ABC’s ‘Scandal’ that different from ‘Mistresses?’ Why are we focusing on mistresses when ‘Devious Maids’ is going unchecked? (Photo credit: Barton J. Taylor)

ABC‘s show ‘Mistresses’ has been criticized for celebrating mistresses, known in many married circles as home wrecking harlots. Based on the BBC’s hit show ‘Mistresses’, ABC puts an American spin on the drama following the lives of four women who sometimes reflect the traditional definition of a mistress, while falling into the category based on life’s circumstances. What I found to be interesting is the folks raging against the show for celebrating deviant behavior, some of whom are the same people that rave about the show, ‘Scandal’ whose lead character is the ultimate mistress. Kerry Washington convincingly plays the role of Olivia Pope, a D.C. “fixer” who has carried on a long-term affair with married President Fitzgerald ‘Fitz’ Grant played brilliantly by Tony Goldwyn. I wondered why the same people who are enamored with ABC’s show ‘Scandal’ which centers around a sophisticated, highly accomplished and intelligent mistress reject ABC’s new entry ‘Mistresses.’

I also wondered aloud on Facebook (June 4), why people were so caught up in critiquing ‘Mistresses’ but were pretty much radio-silent on Lifetime’s new entry ‘Devious Maids,’ a Marc Cherry and Eva Longoria production (both of Desperate Housewives fame). The show features four Latinas playing the role of devious maids, some of whom are also mistresses. I found it interesting that people were so interested in the representation of wayward women, but not in the continued representation of Latina women as “hot” maids. The thread that followed is worth re-presenting on this site in an effort to further discuss the challenges of television programming for viewers of color. The thread even inspired a graphic from The Burton Wire friend and supporter Barton J. Taylor. Check out the graphic above. Check out the thread below. What are your thoughts on this matter. Please share in the comments section and please keep it clean.

This post was written by Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., founder & editor-in-chief of the award-winning news site The Burton Wire.

FACEBOOK STATUS (JUNE 4, 2013)
Wondering why folks are up-in-arms over ABC’s Mistresses which is based on a BBC show of the same name which was on years ago, but radio silent on Lifetime’s new show Devious Maids featuring an all-Latina cast playing, well devious maids. I suppose folks are so focused on JLo’s “The Fosters,” (the first episode was decent), that they haven’t been paying attention to this obvious slight against Latinas. Trot out JLo and maybe they won’t pay attention to how Latinas in the industry are being treated. I know it’s a Marc Cherry show but still. Back to Mistresses – I can’t not believe the nerve of the many Scandalites (Scandal fans) dissing Mistresses over the title. I thought celebrating mistresses was just great drama – right? #startingishtoday

THREAD RELATED TO FACEBOOK STATUS (JUNE 4, 2013)

  • TAB:  Preach, cousin!
    June 4 at 1:51pm via mobile · Unlike · 1
  • KH:    You knew it was coming…
    June 4 at 1:51pm · Unlike · 1
  • SMW:   I would sat that it is b/c no one has seen the ad for this show on Lifetime. Everyone gets ABC. A few get/watch lifetime.
    June 4 at 1:52pm · Unlike · 1
  • TC:   My thoughts exactly!!
    June 4 at 1:55pm · Unlike · 1
  • MAC:   Oooooh! You love starting stuff! I’m looking forward to the dialogue!
    June 4 at 1:57pm via mobile · Unlike · 1
  • TM:  THANK YOU, Nsenga!…just….thank you…Think I’ll share…lol…
    June 4 at 1:58pm · Edited · Unlike · 1
  • MK:  Haaaaaaa! Yeah this is very true. I knew with the success of Scandal that the envelope would continue to be pushed. When I saw the preview for Mistresses I was like…well here we go. I like Scandal. But I’m also not blind to what’s going on. We live in a society that is increasingly diminishing the sanctity of marriage. We trivialize divorce and make adultery (as you said above) great drama. Fantasy is tearing down our standard and destroying the family. So no I don’t celebrate a show like Mistresses that glorifies this type of thing. Scandal is bad enough. No More! Hahaha!
    June 4 at 2:02pm · Unlike · 2
  • KW:  Mistresses — Ain’t nuttin’ wrong with that
    June 4 at 2:06pm · Unlike · 1
  • KW:  Here’s a question…why is marriage so “sanctified” in the first place?
    June 4 at 2:16pm · Unlike · 1
  • BTS:  I’ve actually seen some commentary focusing on Devious Maids and disappointment in Eva Longoria for being behind its production.
    June 4 at 2:16pm via mobile · Unlike · 1
  • KW: And when did it stop being held up in such esteem and why.
    June 4 at 2:17pm · Like
  • MK:  @Karl because it was instituted by God.
    June 4 at 2:17pm · Like · 2
  • KW:  Meka, what if one doesn’t believe in God, but does believe in the concept of marriage?
    June 4 at 2:19pm · Like
  • SAH:  Ouch!! The truth can sting!!!!
    June 4 at 2:20pm via mobile · Unlike · 1
  • KW:  or vice versa…
    June 4 at 2:20pm · Like
  • KW:  as for devious maids…downside — This could be a minstrel show waiting to happen… upside — Susan Lucci
    June 4 at 2:24pm · Like
  • MK:  Hahaha well to me that’s like saying I’m drinking this bottle of Fiji water but I don’t believe that Fiji exists. HA!
    June 4 at 2:25pm · Unlike · 1
  • KW:  Maybe so…but I wonder sometimes, do well laud and/or santify the idea of marriage…or the discipline involved with marriage…That is what I question.
    June 4 at 2:28pm · Unlike · 1
  • MK:  I think it’s all sacred: the concept, the order, the structure, what it takes to live it out…all of it.
    June 4 at 2:53pm · Like · 2
  • KW:  MK, I agree with you, but a majority unfortunately, like the idea and the fantasy of the concept…but don’t embrace the real of the process…and that’s the work involved. Those vows are unbreakable…or should be.. If they are breakable in a person’s mind then that person should not engage….however, I do disagree with you on the idea of “Fantasy is tearing down our standard and destroying the family.”….A TV show can’t do that…We invididual human beings do that by our actions…ultimately we control that fantasy machine and we control what happens in our households and our relationships.
    June 4 at 3:21pm · Unlike · 3
  • WL: Ndeed! Considering the lead on Scandal is a WHAT? mistress, side chick, side piece, etc. BTW u doing something right Nsenga keep up the good work and con’t engaging your readers.
    June 4 at 4:11pm · Unlike · 1
  • KL:  Thanks Nsenga Burton. I can say this without the “black”lash. I do not like Scandal. It’s entertainment for masses. And if that was REALLY going on in the White House between the president and a white woman, African American women would lose it. There’s nothing entertaining for me about seeing a depressed African American character home wrecker act out on TV. So I don’t.
    June 4 at 4:16pm via mobile · Unlike · 4
    JAB: Never liked Scandal from the beginning, won’t look at Mistresses either. I think it is just another show that negatively portrays intelligent women. The institution of marriage has been attacked enough with other shows that are on television, won’t look at one that intentionally does it. No thanks.
  • June 4 at 4:28pm · Unlike · 2
  • MK: Oh Absolutely! I am not taking the responsibility away from the individual at all. But that’s also one of those “Guns don’t kill people, people do” arguments. While fantasy may not be holding a gun to your head and making you step out on your marriage. It does plant seeds in your mind and heart and causes you to romanticize desires that are contrary to what you should be feeling or seeking as a married person. Same thing with kids and video game violence. Fantasy definitely plays it’s part. We can’t diminish that.
    And yes…some people are stronger than others. Unfortunately sometimes you don’t know your strength or lack thereof until it’s too late…
    June 4 at 4:30pm · Like · 1
  • KL:  Yeah… I dunno. People make mistakes. We deconstruct and construct this behavior as artists, audience, storytellers, actors. I just wonder, to Nsenga Burton Nsenga’s point. WHY are we telling these stories to each other as women of color? Why is Jlo and Shonda and Eva Longoria telling this story. We don’t even have to have some white male executive hypersexualuzing us anymore! We tell that story ourselves! And does it make it better? Cause we are making money off of it ? Cause its a Black woman doin’ the President ? Isn’t it the ultimate “Massa-slave” complaint I hear black women make abut black men who date inter racially? Don’t get me started… Can’t wait for Scandal to get cancelled. Cannot. Wait.
    June 4 at 4:36pm via mobile · Unlike · 2
  • JAB:  The typical jezebel role.
    June 4 at 4:38pm · Edited · Unlike · 2
  • MAS:  This post did not disappoint! Thank you Nsenga Burton! The diatribe between MK and KW is great reading! Great point about the Figi water, MK! I was going to make a similar point about Christmas. Anyways, as you were! Carry on!
    June 4 at 6:17pm via mobile · Like
  • Nsenga Burton Great comments. BTS: – thanks for adding the point about Eva Longoria. KL:  pointing out that now we’re doing this to ourselves as opposed to having it done to us. What is this about? An acknowledgement that this is what it takes for black and brown women to succeed and stay in Hollywood or the privileging of material success over social responsibility? MK:  and KW:  make interesting points. Can we give entertainment this much power over how we live our lives? Is the institution of marriage broken because of television or because we’re broken?
    June 4 at 7:39pm via mobile · Like
  • KL:  I dont actually believe that any of these women believe they are putting material success over being responsible. But no one in Hollywood feels like they have to be socially responsible. Not even Oprah.
    June 4 at 8:07pm via mobile · Like · 1
  • ST:  Unfortunately I think many of us know a bright, beautiful, successful, intelligent woman who for some reason or another has chose to play the role of ‘mistress’ in her own version of ‘scandal.’ If such a title makes the viewing masses uneasy, maybe we’…See More
    June 4 at 8:31pm via mobile · Unlike · 2
  • PC: Heck, between Basketball Wives and Real Housewives I would have thought we already had this covered.
    June 5 at 6:56am · Unlike · 1
  • JAB:  @Nsenga the institution of marriage certainly has its problem with the percentage rate being what it is. However, I don’t thing the institution is broken as long as people want to and continue to get married. It is just a matter of perhaps re-evaluatin…See More
    June 5 at 12:41pm · Edited · Unlike · 1
  • Nsenga Burton Hilarious and true PC! Thoughtful JAB. I especially like what you wrote about ratings.
    What are your thoughts Burton Wire readers? Share them in the comments section of this post!
    Like The Burton Wire on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter @TheBurtonWire.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *