Netflix's 'Maid' is a moving, memorable masterpiece

You can travel through time and space with some TV shows. You might find a short but enjoyable escape in these shows. These shows offer a break in everyday life and comfort through their stories.
Maid is not the kind of show you would expect.

Molly Smith Metzler created the Netflix series. Based on Stephanie Land's memoir, Alex stars as Margaret Qualley. Qualley plays Alex, a young woman who flees her husband after he injures her and threatens her safety. Alex, who is without a job and a home, quickly becomes entangled in the bureaucracy that is social services. She faces one obstacle after another while trying to protect her daughter.

From start to finish, Qualley is a master. She captures Alex’s hope, despair, and determination after being numbed by the aftershocks from abuse. She is a natural performer in the show's lighter moments, small victories and when she has to fall apart due to life's challenges. You will remember her performance between episodes and after the emotionally intense finale.

The stress of watching Maid is unavoidable. Because child care, work, and rent are all inescapable realities, conflicts on Maid hit viewers differently than other shows. Alex must navigate a maze of red tape, while still living check-to–check. Doors are slamming in her faces for housing and employment. The tension is constant, a constant gnawing.

Netflix's "Maid" starring Margaret Qualley exposes the vicious cycle of poverty and abuse. Credit: RICARDO HUBBBS / NETFLIX

Metzler and her director pull off exceptional performances from the rest the cast, particularly Nick Robinson as Alex's husband Sean. A husband who is abusive is a TV villain. He's all violence and rage with little to no subtlety. Maid emphasizes that emotional abuse is still abuse. Sean is kind and thoughtful. He loves his daughter and wife, and hates anyone who gets him into trouble. Robinson's remarkable range shows that he is capable of being violent or tender.

Andie McDowell, Alex's bipolar artist mom, and Billy Burke, her estranged dad (a born-again Christian with a dark past), receive the same attention. McDowell Qualley's real mother is a striking example. While Paula McDowell (the generational divide) is not able to call herself abused, her bad relationships and unchecked depression often make it difficult for Alex to be there in the most dire times. Although Alex loves her, McDowell is able to feel her warmth even after storms.

"Maid" follows Alex, (Margaret Qualley) as she deals with a strained relationship and emotional abuse. Credit: RICARDO HUBBBS / NETFLIX

Maid's masterful final product is the result of careful writing and thoughtful direction. It's a great television show, and it is well-made. It shines a harsh light on the country's inability to support victims of abuse and poverty. Although it is difficult and unpleasant to see Alex's hardships, the series has 10 episodes that leave you feeling raw, moved and full.

Maid is now available on Netflix.