Netflix's newest acclaimed drama, Maid, (opens in new tab) tells the story of a single mother's resilience and recovery from domestic abuse. It follows Alex, a young woman who leaves her abusive boyfriend and navigates the American welfare system while getting whatever work she can cleaning houses. The heart-wrenching show has captivated fans, who have been asking whether Maid is based on a true story.
The series is based on author Stephanie Land's memoir Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive. (opens in new tab) Though much of the show is fictionalized, adding in new characters and including more of Alex's mother and father, the larger arc and many of the scenes with Alex and her daughter, Maddy, come from Land's real life, when she worked as a maid after leaving an abusive relationship. Since the events of the book and show ended, Land has become a college graduate and best-selling author who owns a home in Missoula, Montana.
Here's everything we know about Land, and what happened to the real-life Alex.
She wrote her book Maid about her own years cleaning houses in Washington state.
Land's memoir follows a similar trajectory as the show, beginning with her leaving an abusive relationship and raising her daughter Mia (who now goes by Story, and uses they/them pronouns). In an essay on her personal website (opens in new tab), Land says that she left the relationship in January 2008, and that she began cleaning houses and sought government assistance because she wasn't able to resume work in the restaurant industry while seeking daycare for Story, since most facilities are only open during daytime hours on weekdays.
Though the additional characters in the story are mostly fictionalized–the book only lightly touches on her ex and her parents, and she doesn't mention a client similar to Regina–many of the events actually happened, including Story's pony party and the car accident. Since the series' release, Land has shared multiple pictures of the IRL events written in Maid the book and depicted in Maid the show.
She graduated from the University of Montana and worked as a freelance writer.
Spoilers for season 1 of Maid. The ending of Maid (opens in new tab) shows Land's fictional avatar Alex moving to Missoula, Montana, to study creative writing in college. In real-life, Land also attended college while continuing to clean houses and take care of her kid, Story. She graduated from the University of Montana with a Bachelor's in English and Creative Writing in 2014.
After graduating college, Land started working as a freelance writer for parenting magazines. One year later, she published an essay about working as a housekeeper in Vox (opens in new tab), which went viral and led to her getting a book agent. One year after that, her memoir Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive was sold. It ended up on the New York Times Best Seller List and Obama's 2019 Summer Reading List, in addition to being optioned for the Netflix series.
She says that the show does justice to her story.
Before the Netflix series premiered, Land posted a long message on Instagram about her feelings about the release and the creative process. She revealed that the show's creator, Molly Smith Metzler, and executive producers John Wells and Erin Jontow spent time with her and Story to learn more about her experiences.
"Throughout this whole process of giving my story to the hands of strangers, I had to force myself to trust they’ll do it justice. They have. By far. And it’s because they took a true interest in learning, and used their own experiences, to truly understand how it feels to be food, work, and housing insecure," she wrote.
She also thanked the show's team for their work on the show. "Thank you for the friendship, for putting up with my anxious texts, and the hours and hours of hard work you put into making this happen in the best way possible."
She's now living in Missoula, Montana, and working on a new book.
Land has remarried and lives with her husband, Tim Faust, and their blended family in Missoula, Montana. She also had another daughter, who is seven, in addition to Story–known as Mia in the book and Maddy in the show–now 14. She also owns her own house, and shares frequent snapshots of her life on social media (including several of the family's adorable dog Keats).
The author is also working on her second book. Class will be about the "hard truths of college education," combining her personal experience with reporting to expose the "outrageous cost, predatory practices, and discriminatory policies faced by Americans," per Associated Press (opens in new tab).
Land said about the book, "When we think of economic insecurity we often think of the down and out. The reality is the way we go about educating our country leaves millions stretched to their limits, with almost of half of students wondering how they’ll find their next meal and even more than that drowning in debts they’ll owe for a lifetime."
Quinci LeGardye is a Contributing Culture Editor who covers TV, movies, Korean entertainment, books, and pop culture. When she isn’t writing or checking Twitter, she’s probably watching the latest K-drama or giving a concert performance in her car.
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