Netflix announced they have dropped a character from Neil Patrick Harris' upcoming show, Uncoupled, after actress Ada Maris, who was asked to read for the Latina role, raised issues about it.
Maris—who is a Mexican American film and stage actress known for her appearance on the NBC series, Deception, and for helping to develop her character, Gina, on Nurses—said she did not find the character in Uncoupled funny.
She also said the depiction of the housekeeper to Harris' character, Michael, was "hurtful and derogatory."
Uncoupled was created by Younger and Emily in Paris executive producer, Darren Star. The show centers on the gay character played by Harris, who in his 40s suddenly finds himself single in New York City after his husband of 17 years ditches him.
Back in September, Maris was contacted by her agent to play the role of Carmen, the housekeeper. But after reading the script, she was disappointed in the stereotypical nature of the character, and stated the dialogue was offensive.
Maris said her expectations for the character were off, especially with all the recent progress being made to authentically portray the Latino community on television.
The 64-year-old actress told Variety:
"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."
In a statement to Variety, Netflix apologized to Maris and a spokesperson said they dropped the character from the show.
"We're sorry that Ms. Maris had a negative experience, and this character will not appear in the series.
In the first of two scenes featuring Carmen, she is "nearly hysterical on the phone" with Harris' Michael because she thought there was a robbery in the apartment.
Carmen's dialogue, written in broken English, read:
"Mister, I just get here and they stole!"
"They stole! They rob you! I don't know how they get in."
In another scene, Carmen picks up a glass Michael has just washed at the sink and tells him:
"No, I do that. You don't clean good, you always leave a ring."
Maris was reportedly so incensed at the stereotypical characterization of the role and expressed her disappointment over the phone to her agent.
But the more she thought about it, Maris was more surprised that prominently gay men like Harris and Star were not more sensitive to the caricatural portrayal of the housekeeper.
She wrote Harris and Star a letter that was shared with Variety, which read:
"You are modern gay men. How would you like to watch or play an outdated, offensively stereotypical gay part?"
It is unclear if Netflix dropping the role of Carmen was directly related to Maris' reaction to the one-dimensional portrayal of the character.
"I'm just fed up," said Maris.
"If I'm not going to say anything now, when am I going to say something?"
"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."
The outlet confirmed that while Harris is one of five executive producers on Uncoupled—along with Jax Media's Tony Hernandez and Lilly Burns, Star, and Richman—he was neither a writer on the show nor involved in the process for casting the role of Carmen.
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