A Netflix show has made history after being linked to a huge spike in calls to the National Domestic Violence Hotline in the US, with its creator saying this is precisely why she'd wanted to make the show.
In Maid, which dropped on Netflix last October, we followed single mother Alex as she turned to housekeeping in a bid to create a better life for her daughter Maddy, while also escaping an abusive relationship.
Creator and showrunner Molly Smith Metzler said the team had worked closely with the National Domestic Violence Program and its hotline - which received more calls in the month after the series premiered than any other month in its entire 25-year history.
Speaking to IndieWire, Metzler said: "I’ve heard a lot of wonderful things about Maid, but the thing I’ve heard that just blew me away was that the hotline in their 25 years of being a hotline, they got the most calls in their whole history in the month that Maid premiered.
"I think it affected a lot of people. Every day I get a note from someone, every day. It’s not even about like, 'I love the show,' it’s just about like, 'Hey, I didn’t know that that was emotional abuse. Thank you for giving it a name.' It is a very hard to define thing, so if we achieved that and people felt seen then that’s why we’re here."
Metzler said she had chosen to put the National Domestic Violence Hotline's details at the end of every episode, so that people could call, while Netflix also launched a website of resources.
"People looked at the resources and they called," she added.
"I’m honoured to be a nominee for awards and all of that, but that is why any of us wanted to make the show. That’s why we’re all here.”
The mini-series is inspired by Stephanie Land's memoir Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive, which was a story Metzler was keen to tell authentically.
When asked how she researched the bureaucracy around poverty and abuse in the US, she explained: "Stephanie’s memoir is an incredible resource. She almost takes a journalistic approach; if you want to learn more about real-life Maid and exactly what those programs look like and feel like, the memoir will tell you all that.
"When we sat down to dramatise it, getting it right on screen was really important. We were in constant conversation with the National Domestic Violence Program. They watched episodes to make sure we were correctly portraying the kinds of violence.
"We also worked with family lawyers in Washington. We had an incredible research team."
Metzler said that, in real life, Alex would 'lose custody', based on Washington family laws.
"I couldn’t believe it," she continued.
"I couldn’t believe that emotional abuse is not treated as domestic violence in a court of law in Washington state, and it’s not.
"We spoke to so many lawyers and were like, 'No, really she would lose the kid?' and they were like, 'Yeah, she would lose custody because [of] what she did.'"
If you are experiencing domestic violence, please know that you are not alone. You can talk in confidence 24 hours a day to the national domestic violence helpline Refuge on 0808 2000 247