unwritten

Netflix drops “derogatory” Latina role from Neil Patrick Harris sitcom after complaint

Neil Patrick Harris will star in Uncoupled
Neil Patrick Harris will star in Uncoupled (Photo: Shutterstock)

Netflix says it has dropped a character from Uncoupled, a forthcoming sitcom starring Neil Patrick Harris.

The news comes after an actress who read the script for the Latina role complained about it. Ada Maris, who has appeared on numerous TV shows from the 1980s onwards, including a recurring part on FX’s Mayans M.C., called the depiction “hurtful and derogatory.”

Related: Neil Patrick Harris and Tuc Watkins to play gay couple who split up in new Netflix series

As previously reported by Queerty, Uncoupled will star Harris as a gay man who thought he had a near-perfect life … until he gets dumped by his long-term partner (Tuc Watkins) and finds himself having to navigate single life in New York in his mid-40s.

The show is created and executive produced by Darren Star (Younger and Emily in Paris) and Modern Family executive producer Jeffrey Richman. It began filming last month. At the same time, Netflix also announced several other cast members, including Marcia Gay Harden.

Maris, who is Mexican American, was contacted by her agent for the role of Harris’s Latina housekeeper in September. She said when she read the script she was disappointed by how one-dimensional and stereotypical the character appeared.

“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 last week.

In the first episode, the housekeeper, Carmen, features in two scenes. She speaks in broken English and has to inform her employer, played by Harris, that he’s been robbed.

Hysterical, she tells him, “Mister, I just get here and they stole! They stole! They rob you! I don’t know how they get in.”

In a second scene, she picks up a glass her employer has just washed and says, “No, I do that. You don’t clean good, you always leave a ring.”

Maris says she told her agent she wasn’t interested in playing the role. But she was also surprised that it was in the script at all, given that those involved in the show’s creation are gay and might be more sensitive to the portrayal of minorities.

Harris, an executive producer on the series, was not involved in writing the episode or casting the role of Carmen.

Related: Neil Patrick Harris says it’s “sexy” to cast straight actors in gay roles

Maris decided to write a letter to Harris and Star, which she shared with Variety.

“You are modern gay men. How would you like to watch or play an outdated, offensively stereotypical gay part?” Maris wrote.

Netflix now says the character has been dropped from the show.

“We’re sorry that Ms. Maris had a negative experience, and this character will not appear in the series,” a spokesperson told Variety.

It is unknown if the decision to drop the character came about specifically following Maris’ letter of complaint.

Maris, 64, says she has no regrets about publicly speaking out.

“I’m just fed up,” she 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. I’m speaking out for the younger actors coming up so they face even less of that than my generation has.”