SPOILER: With the exception of Raymond Ablack‘s “Nate”, the smiling, tender-hearted single dad whom Margaret Qualley refuses to sleep with, the male characters in Molly Smith Metzler and Stephanie Lamb‘s Maid (Netflix, now streaming) are bad eggs — abusers, drunks, emotionally brusque, etc.
And yet the series encouraged me to think that perhaps Billy Burke‘s “Hank”, Alex’s shaggy-bearded dad who was mean and boozy when she was small, might prove an exception.
Alex loathes Hank and rebuffs his offers of assistance all through the series, and yet he’s now a staunch AA devotee, and a sponsor of Nick Robinson‘s “Sean”, the wobbly ex-boyfriend and father of Rylea Nevaeh Whittet‘s “Maddy”, whom Alex is raising as a single mom.
In the final episode Alex mans up and asks Hank for help. She needs him to submit custody–hearing testimony about Sean’s abusive treatment of her, Hank having observed an ugly episode first-hand.
This is Hank’s redemption moment, you’re thinking. He knows all about Sean’s drinking problem, and what mean drunks can be like (having been one himself and presumably having counselled other abusers under the AA aegis)…it all fits. Hank will become a stand-up fellow, he’ll save Alex from Sean’s hair-trigger temperament and so on.
And then the moment finally comes and she asks him to protect her, and Hank shrugs and says “I can’t do that.”
Worse, at the very end Alex and Sean’s legal dispute miraculously evaporates when Sean decides not to contest. Because he’s suddenly realized that his alcohol problem will be harmful to Maddy.
He basically flips, in other words, like Meryl Streep‘s “Joanna” character in Kramer vs. Kramer, when she decided at the very last second that she didn’t want to interfere with the loving relationship between Dustin Hoffman and little Justin Henry.
We’re happy, of course, that Alex and Maddy have survived the Sean threat and escaped to Missoula, Montana. And it’s great that Alex wins a scholarship to attend college there. But the way the series throws Hank under the bus is curious and disappointing.