The upcoming Netflix series Uncoupled, starring Neil Patrick Harris, has dropped a Latina housekeeper character after a veteran film and television actor wrote an open letter expressing offense over the role’s one-dimensional and stereotypical portrayal.
Ada Maris, a Mexican actor who has appeared in numerous productions since the 1980s including Mayans MC, The Garcias and the NBC drama Nurses, spoke out about what she viewed as egregious stereotyping after reading for the role, Variety reported Thursday.
“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,” Maris said.
The series, created by Darren Star (also behind Sex and the City and Emily in Paris), and Jeffrey Richman, stars Harris as a successful fortysomething fresh to the dating scene in New York after his husband of 17 years walks out on him. Maris read for the role of Carmen, the housekeeper for Harris’s character in the first episode of the series.
According to Variety, the character is initially introduced being “hysterical” on the phone with Harris’s character and speaks in broken English about a suspected robbery. “Mister, I just get here and they stole!” she says. “They stole! They rob you! I don’t know how they get in.”
In a second scene, Carmen takes a glass Harris’s character leaves at 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. A few days after reading the script, she wrote an open letter to Harris and Star, shared with Variety, which urged them to avoid caricatures of marginalized communities.
“You are modern gay men. How would you like to watch or play an outdated, offensively stereotypical gay part?” Maris said.
Harris, an executive producer on the series, was not involved in writing the episode or casting the role of Carmen. It’s unclear if the role of Carmen was written out of the series because of Maris’s objections. “We’re sorry that Ms Maris had a negative experience, and this character will not appear in the series,” a Netflix spokesman told Variety.
“Sometimes people have to sit with the discomfort,” Maris told Variety. “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 added. “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.”