Is ‘The Cleaning Lady’ Based on a Book?

FOX‘s new crime drama, The Cleaning Lady, is off to a great start. The series kicked off in early January with a 0.5 rating and 3.6 million viewers, becoming FOX’s highest-rated drama premiere in two years, according to The Wrap. Many fans are loving the powerful story behind protagonist Thony De La Rosa, and some wonder where the show’s concept came from. Is The Cleaning Lady based on a book?

Elodie Yung as Thony De La Rosa, alentino and Sebastien LaSalle as her son in The Cleaning Lady
‘The Cleaning Lady’ | Ursula Coyote/FOX

What is ‘The Cleaning Lady’ about?

The Cleaning Lady follows Thony (played by Elodie Yung), a Cambodian doctor who moves to the U.S. to enroll her dangerously ill 5-year-old son, Luca (Sebastien and Valentino LaSalle), in a bone marrow treatment plan. However, when her visa expires, Thony finds herself and Luca trapped in Las Vegas. Trying to keep a low profile, she lives with her sister-in-law, Fiona (Martha Millan), and takes on a job as a cleaner.

One night, a routine job at a boxing club turns into a nightmare when Thony accidentally witnesses a mob murder. To save her own life, she offers to clean up the mess.

One of the mob’s leaders, Arman Morales (Adan Canto), is so impressed with Thony’s work that he asks her to become the mob’s on-call cleaner. In exchange, he’ll help Thony find proper care for her son and keep her protected. But will she be able to keep her new job a secret and keep herself alive? Thony might be in more danger than she realizes.

‘The Cleaning Lady’ is not based on a book, but another TV series

The Cleaning Lady isn’t derived from a book, but it did find inspiration elsewhere. Creator Miranda Kwok adapted the FOX series from the 2017 Argentinian TV show La Chica Que Limpia, which translates to The Girl Who Cleans. The two versions have very similar concepts, except the original follows a woman named Rosa. FOX’s version also adds the part about Thony being a doctor and living in the U.S. on an expired visa.

Speaking to And Asian ahead of The Cleaning Lady’s premiere, Kwok revealed that producer Shay Mitchell and Warner Brothers brought the Argentinian show to her attention. She loved the concept, but decided to change the protagonist to a Southeast Asian person.

“Warner Brothers completely embraced the idea; I pitched it to FOX, and they also were totally on board to have a different kind of female lead and to have an Asian lead,” Kwok said.

Additionally, Kwok thought it was important to tell the story from an immigrant’s perspective, as the show highlights the challenges and the tough choices Thony has to make. Kwok continued:

This is a story about an underdog and somebody who faces so many challenges and manages to defy all that and make her own rules. She’s not somebody who is going to be backed against the wall or pushed into a corner, she won’t take no for an answer, she’s going to create her own path and those are the themes that really spoke to me and inspired me to create this show.

Miranda Kwok wanted the show’s diversity to elicit ‘compassion’ from viewers

When creating The Cleaning Lady, Kwok also stressed the importance of diversity and highlighting various perspectives.

“There are a lot of immigrant stories in this, people from all different countries: there’s Élodie’s character, there is also Martha [Millan], who is a very different personality and what she has struggled with, and Adan Canto,” Kwok told And Asian.

In the end, Kwok said she hopes The Cleaning Lady will open viewers’ hearts and minds to be more compassionate.

“I think showing that diversity itself is what gets people to have a broader understanding and compassion for these characters, and hopefully that will extend to having more compassion for people who are in these roles in real life in the world,” she added.

New episodes of The Cleaning Lady premiere on Monday nights at 9 p.m. ET/PT on FOX.

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