Roush Review: ‘The Cleaning Lady’ Mops Up the Melodrama

The Cleaning Lady star Elodie Yung
Ursula Coyote/FOX

The Cleaning Lady

Matt's Rating: rating: 3.0 stars

Suds flow freely in Fox’s The Cleaning Lady, a preposterous but occasionally gripping melodrama about a resourceful woman who can get the blood out of anything. A good gift to have when you find yourself mopping up one fine mess after another of a crime syndicate that could decide your future.

Thony (silent “h”), passionately played by Elodie Yung, is the title character, a proud Cambodian-born doctor who’s currently toiling over toilets as an undocumented worker in Las Vegas. Back story: Thony came from the Philippines to get treatment for her dying 5-year-old son Luca, and they’ve been stuck in Sin City for months after a donor backed out and her visa expired. They live with her sister-in-law Fiona (the spirited Martha Millan), who’s been living the undocumented life for years with her adolescent kids, all living under the radar as best they can. “We need to stay invisible,” Fiona unnecessarily reminds Thony.

Ursula Coyote/FOX

Which becomes easier said than done when this hard-luck story shifts gears into an improbable thriller after Thony witnesses a murder. With quick turns of an increasingly convoluted and often predictable plot, she finds herself caught between Arman (Designated Survivors Adan Canto) a dashing gangster with helpful medical connections who does the bidding of an Armenian mob family, and Garrett (miscast Oliver Hudson), a cocky FBI agent who wants to use her as an informant and isn’t above threatening to expose her family to ICE agents to get his way.

You probably won’t believe a minute of the heightened mob nonsense, but what rings true in The Cleaning Lady is its powerful depiction of the constant fear of arrest, deportation and separation in which illegals like Thony and her loved ones live. That’s a predicament worth dramatizing.

You’ll root for this defiant heroine as she puts her medical as well as cleaning skills to good use time and again — though I kept wanting to ask Thony if she had a cure for eye rolls.

The Cleaning Lady, Series Premiere, Monday, January 3, 9/8c, Fox