- TV News -How Does 'Maid' The Book End? This Story Needs A Happy Ending
Netflix's latest miniseries Maid doesn't make for easy viewing. Based on the memoir Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive by bestselling author Stephanie Land, the series chronicles the journey of a single mother named Alex, who is living below the poverty line as she cleans houses to support her young daughter, Maddy. Some of Land's story has been changed to create a more natural narrative flow for the show, but Maid's ending largely stays intact.
Throughout the series, Alex struggles to navigate the convoluted government assistance system in America as she tries to provide food and shelter for herself and her daughter. In order to try and make ends meet, she takes on a job with a cleaning company that eats into her savings more than it provides an income, at least at first. Even though her situation is dire, she continues to chase her dreams of becoming a writer, and eventually she receives a $3,000 grant that allows her to visit Missoula, Montana.
Missoula is home to the college Alex dreams of attending, and in the show's final moments, she leaves both her mother, who has undiagnosed bipolar disorder, and Maddy's father behind in search of a better life. In the last scene of the series, she and Maddy climb to the top of Sentinel Mountain, where she shows her daughter their new home. It's a poignant and happy ending to what is an unflinching look at the realities of living in poverty, and it mirrors how Land chose to end her memoir.
The book also ends with Land and her child's climb up the mountain, which doubles as a metaphor for just how far they've come. Although, it's important to note Land's life didn't suddenly become easier when she started college. Quite the contrary in fact, she was still on government assistance and cleaning houses as she worked her way through school.
But in the end, she deliberately chose to end her memoir with a hopeful moment that emphasized how she was in control of her own story. In a 2019 interview with the American Book Sellers Association, she revealed that she was adamant that her story wouldn't end with a man swooping in to save the day.
"I said in every meeting with every publisher and editor: 'This book will not end with a man coming in,'" she said. "Because we need more stories like that, where the woman ends up ok and she doesn't have a man to come in and keep her safe and warm and take care of her from that point on. The book really ended at more of a mental and emotional spot of hope. I was still a college student and still cleaning and still on food stamps, but it was a good spot to end; it caught me by surprise when I was writing it."
In the years since her memoir was published, Land's life has changed drastically. She has since gotten married, and she and her husband have four children between them, as well as a host of pets. All things considered, she seems to be living out her dream, but she remains committed to shining a light on America's broken systems. The one thing she doesn't want readers to ever take away from her story is that she succeeded because she somehow "pulled herself up by her bootstraps."
Land is open about the fact that she and her child, Story, wouldn't have survived without government assistance, just as she's also candid about just how difficult it is to actually get help in the first place. "I think I struggle the most with being called a success story, because that makes it sound like it is a successful system," she told The Cut in 2019. "I think there a lot of what has happened to me in the last few years has been lucky — not everybody can go viral and get an agent and a book deal. I wouldn’t ever want someone to point at me and say, 'But look at her, she did it, so it must be working just fine.' That's not how it goes."
So while Land's story does have a happy ending, both in reality and on the show, she has never lost sight of how important it is to shine a light on the broken system that keeps so many people living in poverty all across America.
Images: Ricardo Hubbs/Netflix; Netflix