Please note this is an archived article that was first posted in October 2021.
Squamish actor Amy Reid didn’t have to do much research for her role in the Netflix series Maid; she has been a less prickly version of her character — social services worker Jody.
“I have never sat in a character’s shoes and felt quite as comfortable as I did with Jody,” said Reid.
The popular 10-episode show — currently the third most-watched Netflix show in Canada — depicts a young mother’s struggle to leave intimate partner violence and restart her life as a housekeeper.
It is based on Stephanie Land’s memoir, Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay and a Mother’s Will to Survive.
It is an unusual and likely more relatable story for many because it shows the complexity of violent relationships and the challenges of poverty in a way that is more raw and honest than is usually portrayed on the big or little screen.
Reid’s character works at a shelter registration office and is the first person young mother Alex encounters within the government aid system.
She introduces Alex and her daughter to their options and the maze of red tape to access them.
Ultimately, Jody helps get Alex to a domestic violence shelter and later into better subsidized housing.
Reid previously worked for the Salvation Army in the Downtown East Side of Vancouver and was a manager at Squamish Helping Hands for six years.
“I get what it is to want to help somebody and then feel super frustrated that by the lifeline that you are offering them, coming up short,” she said. “And this is where Jody is at with Alex’s character when Alex’s character comes in and sits down looking for help and finds out that it is not as easy as all that.”
Reid said this is the most attention any production she has been in has ever gotten.
“There’s something in the story that is touching a chord with a lot of people, and it is sparking a conversation. That is the most exciting thing about this series,” she said. “People are saying employers have to change the way that they support their workers. They have to understand that childcare is important. They have to understand that [workers] can’t be expected to buy their own supplies.”
Overall, Jody and the series vocalize that relationship abuse is not always physical.
“It is emotional, it is financial, it is verbal — it is slowly ebbing away a person’s self until they don’t think they can leave anymore.”
But unlike most depictions of abuse, Maid shows how complex the dynamic is between Alex and Sean, the father of her child. He is monstrous to her, but not portrayed as a monster, and instead as a man stuck in his own cycle of trauma and alcoholism.
This helps viewers understand that though Alex must leave him, it isn't as simple or easy as if he was a caricature of pure evil all the time.
The series also portrays an unflinching look at poverty and how exhausting it can be and how hard it is to get out of.
“I love the conversations that are starting, and I hope that they are seen through. I think there are a lot of people who have talked about being dedicated to help change the systems that are designed to keep people being abused — or people in poverty — in that cycle down, and I would really love to see this show make active change. I think it has the potential to do so," Reid said.