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Eva Longoria Shines in Land of Women and Earlier Mother Up!

Eva Longoria is one of our great TV stars. There, my truth is out.

Longoria has been a welcome TV presence since her run on “The Young and the Restless,” but “Desperate Housewives” catapulted her into true TV stardom. As the spoiled Gabby, she was funny, sexy, devious, and yet still warmly likable. Longoria quickly found her niche, parlaying her immense likeability to play women who do very unlikeable things — but she keeps you rooting for them regardless.

After stepping behind the camera for a series of projects, including executive producing “Devious Maids” and directing “Flamin’ Hot,” Longoria is back on TV in Apple TV+’s dramedy “Land of Women,” starring as a disgraced socialite who flees with her family to a remote town when her life falls apart and her family is threatened. But this isn’t the first time Longoria has played a fish-out-of-water; before “Land of Women” and her last series regular role on the sadly short-lived “Telenovela,” she was the voice star of Hulu’s “Mother Up!” in 2013.

Sunny robot Apple TV+
"Coda"

Never heard of “Mother Up!”? I’m not surprised; it was one of Hulu’s first original series at a time when the platform had more attention for the sudden availability of entire seasons of TV. In it, she played music exec Rudi, who must flee to the suburbs after a video of her hunting children with rapper 2Bit ends her career and her marriage. (In her own defense, Rudi points out that they only used tranquilizer darts.)

Now stranded in the ‘burbs with two children she’s barely interacted with and no servants, Rudi does as little as possible to adjust, preferring to bend the neighbors and mean girl mommies to her own twisted sense of propriety. And in a voice-only performance, Longoria’s comedic timing truly gets the chance to shine. She’s blithe, careless, and selfish — but there are moments in every episode when confronted with the loneliness her choices bring, she finds a way to meet her family halfway. Sometimes, that means Rudi climbs into the vending machine her daughter, Apple, prefers to her and insults Apple’s plays so that Apple comes running to her for comfort. And sometimes, that means allowing her son to continue visiting the convicted felon in prison that he accidentally befriended. (“Free childcare!” Rudi chirps.)

The vibe of “Mother Up!” (created by Marnie Nir and Katherine Torpey) is cozy yet prickly. In her best performances, that delicate line is what Longoria walks so well. In “Land of Women,” she roars into her mother’s small hometown in Spain, expecting things to go as smoothly as they did in her well-appointed, well-upholstered Manhattan life. They don’t (far from it), and the pleasure of the show is watching Longoria greet setbacks with shocked anger and then steely determination. And nobody has a lock on that combination like Longoria. And making 2024 a true treat, she’ll be on the fourth season of “Only Murders in the Building” as herself, playing Mabel in a movie. May she rule the airwaves always!

“Mother Up!” is available to stream on Hulu. “Land of Women” premieres new episodes every Wednesday on Apple TV+.

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