Hollywood magic often happens in unexpected places. "Devious Maids," Lifetime's telenovela, is created in a former beer distribution plant on an industrial strip in Atlanta.
The over-the-top show returns for its second season Sunday, April 20, and executive producer Eva Longoria directs the episode. She adroitly shows how the lives of the maids and their employers have changed over the past few months.
Zap2it recently spent a couple of days on the elaborate set. The show began mired in controversy because people condemned it for stereotyping Latinas as maids.
The actresses, whose relatives had worked as maids, were not ashamed to play smart women who cleaned for a living. Marisol (Ana Ortiz), around whom the action revolved, was not a maid. She pretended to be one to clear her son of a murder charge. She did.
"Shouldn't we be telling the story of the workers?" Ortiz says. "Enough is enough. Enough with the rich people getting all they want. Let's show the workers' lives. It is a Marc Cherry show; let's have fun with it."
Marisol, a college professor, is taking a leave of absence to write a book. She falls in love and moves in with a handsome, rich man, Nicholas (Mark Deklin). He has a few secrets, including a dead wife who supposedly committed suicide.
Wearing a weathered motorcycle jacket, a double row of pearls, a T. Rex Electric Warrior T-shirt and skinny jeans, Ortiz looks much hipper than the more conservative Marisol.
"There is new blood on the show, literally and figuratively," she says.
The house where Marisol is living has old-world opulence, with a grand living room, a huge chandelier, a fireplace and silk couches.
"She is swept off her feet," Ortiz says. "Her son is out of the house. She got him out of jail. 'Oh, my gosh, what will I do with the rest of my life?' "
The new season brings new characters, including African-Americans, making the show more diverse. All the maids are in different places in their lives. Carmen (Roselyn Sanchez) pretends to be the fiancee of her former employer, the closeted Alejandro (Matt Cedeno).
Zoila (Judy Reyes) is still bossing around her employer, Genevieve (Susan Lucci), but initially mourning her estrangement from her daughter, Valentina (Edy Ganem).
"She had to confront how obsessed she is with the lives of people around her and how unfulfilling the work she does is," Reyes says.
The work may be unfulfilling, but Opal, the maid whom Marisol "inherited" when she moved into Nicholas' home, "has a strong proprietary role on the comings and goings of the mansion," says Joanna Adler, who plays Opal. "She is, by nature, quite inscrutable."
This season will see Valentina "become more independent," Ganem says. She's back but won't live with her mom right now.
Rosie (Dania Ramirez) also had a change of homes. She was in detention for months. Last season ended with her being led away in handcuffs by immigration officials, while her erstwhile employer Peri (Mariana Klaveno) gloated. Peri reported her because she was having an affair with Peri's husband, Spence (Grant Show). Incidentally, Peri was hardly monogamous.
Rosie and Spence love each other.
"With Rosie, the glass is always half full," Ramirez says.
Photo/Video credit: Lifetime