However Helper named after the memoir on which it is based – Stephanie Land’s Maid: Hard work, low pay and a mother’s will to survive – actually, the title seems incomplete. Netflix’s miniseries turned out to be more than just the main character’s work, covering issues of parenthood, domestic violence, and the precariousness of living below the poverty line. As that description suggests, it’s hard to watch fun. But it’s also surprising viewable see, saved from the miserable-erotic gloom by a stubborn sense of hope and a hint of humor.
We first meet Alex (Margaret Qualley), who is running away from home in the dead of night, with only $18 in her pocket and her 2-year-old daughter, Maddy (Rylea Nevaeh Whittet) with her. While she doesn’t know exactly where she’s going, what’s more important in the moment is who she’ll leave behind – her boyfriend, Sean (Nick Robinson), an emotionally abusive alcoholic with the most recent outbreak ended with Alex picking up shards of glass from Maddy’s hair. But freedom, so necessary, will be virtually unmanageable in the days, weeks, and months ahead.
A fascinating exploration of a woman’s life below the poverty line.
With the help of a sympathetic social worker, Alex finds work with a ramshackle cleaning service called Value Maids. Over 10 episodes over 10 hours long, we watch as she jumps from job to job and from house to house, trying to make ends meet on her meager salary, the help of government and sometimes favored by friends and family – all while trying to retain custody of Maddy, keeping her distance from Sean, checking in on her unstable mother, Paula (Andie MacDowell, Qualley’s real mother) and unpacking some of her own deep childhood traumas.
What? Helper It is good to outline how these misfortunes tend to combine when there is not enough money to buffer. Alex never knew exactly how many coins she had in her pocket, and Helper Get us into her mind with her pop-up income and expense tally. A dollar spent on gas means less than a dollar on food, and “small” setbacks like a lost shift have the potential to send her entire life spiraling out of control. Money can’t solve everything, as Alex realized from her glimpse into a client’s private life, but it tends to change the shape and scale of your problems: A rich guy’s misfortune is no less valuable because he owns a Peloton, but his is a different kind of burden than the one Alex faces every day as she struggles to clean up. eat on the table for Maddy.
Qualley is endowed with an expressive face that makes Alex an open book. Even as she fights to maintain her composure in the face of unbearable pressure, a twitching lip, fluttering eyelashes, or flared nostrils will take the game out of focus. On the other hand, MacDowell is capturing and aggravating as Paula, who has torn Alex’s life apart with the irresistible chaos of a tornado. And Robinson plays sweet Sean with just as much seriousness as he threatens – he’s a man whose traumatic history explains but doesn’t excuse the pain he’s causing in the present.
Everyone in the cast has benefited from scripts (by hosts Molly Smith Metzler, Marcus Gardley, Bekah Brunstetter, Colin McKenna and Michelle Denise Jackson) that refuse to reduce Alex or those around her to the total. number of their troubles. Compassion can be found even in the thorniest of hearts, and moments of lightness or lust or courage will appear even on the worst of days. Alex may be having a hard time, but she’s still human enough to notice that Paula’s escort statue looks weird, or that the friendly friend who takes her at night looks pretty cool without a shirt on. his – and she never fails to find some measure of joy and comfort in Maddy, even if burnout or depression will be what’s best for her.
Alex is an easy-to-root hero, and more so because the odds seem to pile up against her. For those lucky viewers unfamiliar with the low-class life, Helper provides a stark demonstration of how difficult it is to pull yourself up with the loot in a world rife with bureaucratic kidnappers, unsympathetic owners and no shortage of bad luck – not to mention in Alex’s case, a relationship so toxic that it threatens to overwhelm her entire sense of self. In one particularly interesting detail, Alex can barely name her favorite color when she’s asked by a working shelter to help her choose clothes.
But if Alex’s easy appeal is one of HelperIts strongest selling point, it can also become a limitation. As a beautiful, intelligent white American woman who never worked hard or put her children first, Alex barely challenged conventional assumptions about who was or wasn’t “worthy.” be poor. Helper disregarding people who might be even worse than Alex, even in the same line of work, and as a result, criticisms of the system that let Alex down can only go so deep. It’s all too possible to stay away from Helper without any sense of how ordinary or extraordinary Alex’s journey was, and thus without any sense of how the social safety net had actually been disrupted.
However, one’s story is still valid and Helper, to be fair, was never intended to speak for anyone but its protagonist. (Conversely, it’s so closely tied to Alex’s personal views that we’re often seen as imaginary flourishes, like Alex being swallowed up by the couch while deep in depression, prioritizing experience. her subjectivity over objective reality.) Helper may be brief as a cultural study, but taken as an intimate personal story, it’s a triumph – a drama sensitively written, superbly performed, that finds character. humane even on the coldest of days and keep you hooked until the very end.
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