Maids in Media
the butler did it" has been used to predict the outcome of mystery movies for many years. What are some of the ways that authors and producers have portrayed the character of the maid?
In the early television and movie days, most maids were cast as older African American women. one best selling novel from the early 1930s, which went on to become an award winning movie and is still shown on television today, featured a maid by the name of Prissy. Her character was a younger, pleasantly plump, outspoken black women. The actress played the part very well and added a special touch of humor to the movie.
Some writers' plots had the maids being mistreated and sometimes sexually abused. These depictions represented the dark side of being a maidservant in the years during and immediately after slavery, and hopefully for the most part, were based on fiction.
Many times the maid in a move or television show did not actually have a speaking part, but came into the room quietly and served meals or served guests. Occasionally the only time they would be seen was when they answered the door.
In many shows maids have been portrayed as almost part of the family. Many comedy shows have featured a maid who was loyal, hardworking, jolly, nosy, and took care of the family as if they were her own.
It seems that modern-day writers of novels or movies do not utilize the character of a maid as much as in times past. Perhaps they are abandoning what could still be a viable resource for interesting story lines.