Netflix has nixed a Latina housekeeper character from its upcoming sitcom Uncoupled, which stars Neil Patrick Harris, after a veteran actor read for the part and publicly slammed it as ‘hurtful and derogatory.’
The show, set to release next year, follows a gay man, played by Harris, 48, who is thrust into the New York dating scene after his husband of 17 years suddenly leaves him.
In September, a script for the series’ first episode initially featured a small role of Latina cleaning lady, named Carmen, who dotes on Harris’ character.
However, the streaming service has since done away with the part, after veteran actress Ada Maris, 64, read for the role, and subsequently penned an open letter to Harris and the show’s creator, Darren Star – the mind behind popular programs like Beverly Hills, 90210; Melrose Place; and Sex and the City.
Maris also shared the letter with Variety days after reading for the role, and told the outlet that the housekeeper was stereotypical and flat.
‘When I opened it and saw that it wasn’t even funny – it was hurtful and derogatory – I was shocked because I walked in expecting something very different given the way things are nowadays and the progress we’ve made,’ the Mexican-American actress, whose real name is Ada Marentes, griped to the outlet of the role.
‘When I opened it and saw that it wasn’t even funny – it was hurtful and derogatory – I was shocked because I walked in expecting something very different given the way things are nowadays and the progress we’ve made,’ Mexican-American actress Ada Maris, whose real name is Ada Marentes, said of the role, after reading a script on September 27
According to Variety, the Carmen character is initially introduced in the series’ first episode, the script that Maris read for.
She is ‘hysterical’ on the phone with Harris’ character and speaks in broken English about a suspected robbery.
‘Mister, I just get here and they stole!’ the character reportedly says in a thick, stereotypical accent, the outlet reported Thursday. ‘They stole! They rob you! I don’t know how they get in.’
In a second scene, Carmen brandishes a glass that Harris’ character leaves in the sink and says, ‘No, I do that. You don’t clean good, you always leave a ring.’
Maris said she was angered by the simplistic depiction of a Latina housekeeper, at odds with a move toward more nuanced and layered depictions of Latinx characters.
Harris, an executive producer on the series, was not involved in writing the episode or the casting of the Carmen role. The show, set to release next year, follows a gay man, played by Harris who is thrust into the New York dating scene after his husband suddenly leaves him
The show’s creator, Darren Star – the mind behind popular programs like Beverly Hills, 90210; Melrose Place; and Sex and the City – also received Maris’ letter
A few days after reading the script on September 27, Maris, who is known for her roles in TV series Mayans MC, Star Trek: Enterprise and the 1986 NBC drama Nurses, penned the open letter to Harris and Star, which she then shared with Variety, chastising the actor and screenwriter for taking part in a production that features over-the-top caricatures of marginalized communities.
Maris has starred in TV series Star Trek: Enterprise (pictured), Mayans MC, and the 1986 NBC drama Nurses
‘You are modern gay men. How would you like to watch or play an outdated, offensively stereotypical gay part?’ Maris said in the letter, Variety reported.
In a statement to Variety, Netflix profusely apologized to Maris, and attested that the character was no longer part of the show.
‘We’re sorry that Ms. Maris had a negative experience,’ a Netflix spokesman said.
‘This character will not appear in the series,’ the network then declared.
Harris, an executive producer on the series, was not involved in writing the episode or the casting of the contentious Carmen role – but it’s still unclear if the part was written out of the series because of Maris’ publicized objections to the actor and Star.
What’s more, Netflix announced on October 25 five supporting cast members for Uncoupled – and the Carmen character was not among the roles.
‘Sometimes people have to sit with the discomfort,’ Maris told Variety after the ordeal. ‘I would hope they would rethink this. I would hope they would recognize the harm that it does to everyone. Both to people who are Latino and people who are not.’
‘I’m just fed up,’ she then proclaimed. ‘I just want [writers] to think the next time they write a character like that. I’m speaking out for the younger actors coming up so they face even less of that than my generation has.
‘Young people are impressionable,’ the actress added. ‘These media images shape our ideas of ourselves. That’s why it’s really important that the portrayals be more realistic, not hurtful. We need to see ourselves more like we really are.’
In a statement to Variety, Netflix profusely apologized to Maris, and attested that the character was no longer part of the show