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'Hurtful And Derogatory' Role Cut From Neil Patrick Harris’ New Show

Ada Maris, Neal Patrick Harris, and Darren Star
Dominik Bindl/Getty Images; Michael Loccisano/Getty Images; Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

The change followed actor Ada Maris speaking out against the role of the Latinx maid in the upcoming Netflix sitcom, Uncoupled.

A seemingly minor -- but, in reality, fairly significant -- change has been made to Neil Patrick Harris' forthcoming Netflix series Uncoupled, in removing the role of a maid following complaints from actor Ada Maris after she read the pilot's script.

The series focuses on Harris' character, Michael Lawson, a gay man whose "perfect life" is blown apart when his long-term partner leaves him. Lawson then has to navigate life in New York as a single man in his mid-40s. The series was created and is executive produced by Darren Star (Younger and Emily in Paris).

Maris, a Latinx actor, has been working in television since the 1980s and previously had recurring roles in shows including Mayans M.C., Star Trek: Enterprise, and One Life to Live. She received the script for Uncoupled from her agent in September, for the recurring role of Carmen the maid. When Maris read the script, she was shocked by how stereotypical and one-dimensional the role was, particularly because of the talent associated with the project.

"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," Maris told Variety.

According to Maris, Carmen has two scenes in the first episode's script, which was written by Star and Modern Family executive producer Jeffrey Richman. She is first introduced over the phone and is portrayed as "nearly hysterical," thinking that Harris' character has been robbed. "Mister, I just get here and they stole!" she says in broken English. "They stole! They rob you! I don't know how they get in."

The second scene featuring the character shows Carmen being handed a drinking glass from Michael after he's washed it, saying, "No, I do that. You don't clean good, you always leave a ring."

Maris said she was both outraged by the characterization, but also disappointed that something so stereotypical would come from gay men who she assumed would be more sensitive in writing marginalized roles. "You are modern gay men. How would you like to watch or play an outdated, offensively stereotypical gay part?" Maris asked.

"I'm just fed up," Maris said. "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," she said. "I'm speaking out for the younger actors coming up so they face even less of that than my generation has."

According to Maris, that's all the more reason to be vigilant about avoiding racist tropes when writing characters. "Young people are impressionable," the actor said. "These media images shape our ideas of ourselves. That's why it's really important that the portrayals be more realistic, not hurtful. We need to see ourselves more like we really are."

Netflix has since issued an apology to Maris and removed the character from the show. "We're sorry that Ms. Maris had a negative experience, and this character will not appear in the series," a Netflix spokesperson said.

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