How ‘The Cleaning Lady’ defies stereotypes about Asian immigrant workers in the U.S.

the cleaning lady
  • Fox’s new drama series “The Cleaning Lady” aims to tackle stereotypes about Asian service employees in the U.S.
  • The show features Élodie Yung as Thony De La Rosa, a Cambodian doctor who moves to the U.S. seeking treatment for her son, who has a life-threatening medical condition.
  • Thony’s character and many others in the show are providing voices to represent Asian immigrant workers in the U.S. and to show that they are more than just the stereotypical assumptions.

Miranda Kwok’s “The Cleaning Lady,” the first primetime drama on Fox to star as well as be created and produced by an Asian woman, is defying the stigmas around marginalized Asian service workers in the U.S.

Based on the Argentinian show, “La Chica Que Limpia,” Fox’s new series “The Cleaning Lady,” which features a predominantly Southeast Asian cast, follows the story of Cambodian doctor Thony De La Rosa (played by Élodie Yung) who moves to the U.S. in hopes of finding better treatment for her critically ill, young son. After witnessing a gruesome event committed by a mob, she is offered a chance to work as their cleaning lady and medical professional in exchange for payment that could help fund her son’s medical treatment. 

A central topic of the show that the creator and executive producer, Miranda Kwok, wants to highlight is the stigmatization and marginalization of Asian immigrant workers in the U.S. 

In a December interview with NextShark, Élodie Yung explained that her character is there to provide a voice for the younger generation.

“It will give the confidence to these kids to say, ‘We have a place in this world; we have a voice,’” she tells NextShark. “I am really happy, and positive and hopeful that this is going to open doors and empower young generations.”

Thony represents the Asian immigrant worker who is often dismissed by others as a “second-class citizen” despite her background as a respectable doctor in Cambodia. From accusations of stealing to medical professionals doubting her expertise and medical opinions, Thony’s character faces the challenging obstacles endured by many immigrant Asian workers who start off in low-wage careers despite their background.

Kwok also wants Thony’s character to be one that breaks assumptions based on stereotypes and shows that there is much more to an Asian immigrant worker than what is seen on the outside. 

“I wanted to create a character that defied all the stereotypes,” said Kwok in an interview with The Nerds of Color. “She’s a cleaning lady, but also, she’s a doctor. She is not anything you’d expect. Most of the time, you don’t expect anything — you just disregard your cleaning lady. What was important to me to bring these voices that are pushed into the shadows — unseen and unheard — and bring them into the forefront.”

Feature Image via TV Promos

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