How did The Cleaning Lady write off Adan Canto in the Season 3 premiere?

The Cleaning Lady Season 3 had to address the tragic death of star Adan Canto. How is the show writing off his character of Arman?
THE CLEANING LADY: L-R: Adan Canto in the “Truth or Consequences” episode of THE CLEANING LADY airing Monday, Nov. 7 (9:02-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2022 Fox Media LLC. CR: Jeff Neumann/FOX
THE CLEANING LADY: L-R: Adan Canto in the “Truth or Consequences” episode of THE CLEANING LADY airing Monday, Nov. 7 (9:02-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2022 Fox Media LLC. CR: Jeff Neumann/FOX /

The Cleaning Lady had to open Season 3 by dealing with the loss of star Adan Canto. How did the show address Arman no longer around? 

Caution: This article contains spoilers for The Cleaning Lady Season 3

Few things are tougher for a TV show than to suddenly have to write off a major character. Even more challenging is what happens when the actor playing said character unexpectedly dies. 

Premiering on FOX in 2021, The Cleaning Lady is the story of Thony De La Rosa (Elodie Yung), a doctor who now works as a maid to provide for her young son. She accidentally stumbles onto a mob murder by crime boss Arman Morales (Adan Canto) and manages to save herself by offering to clean up the crime scene. Before long, Thony is the go-to “cleaner” for Arman while navigating the mob world, a DEA agent using her and winning custody of her son. 

The tragic loss of Adan Canto

The show has been a surprise hit, with fans loving the twists and turns. Like all FOX shows, Season 3 was delayed by the Hollywood strikes. However, fans were shocked when Canto unexpectedly died of appendix cancer on Jan. 8, 2024, at only 42 years old.

Thus, Season 3 had to address the loss of Arman, whose unique love-hate relationship with Thony was a key part of the show. Season 3 opened with Thony showing up at a hanger just in time to see one of Arman’s deals go south and him rushing off amid a gun battle. Now, Thony finds herself in an unlikely alliance with Arman’s wife, Nadia (Eva de Dominici), and discovers Arman’s estranged family are also hunting him while running their own criminal enterprises. 

It’s a big shift for the show, which ended with a dedication to Canto. So, how did they come up with this plan?

How The Cleaning Lady showrunners prepared for Canto’s departure

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, co-showrunners Miranda Kwok and Jeannine Renshaw revealed that they knew in the summer of 2023 that Canto was ill and unable to film Season 3. They mixed some unused footage with a CGI double to set up his exit while crafting various plans in the hopes that Canto could return for the Season 3 finale. 

Sadly, Canto was far more ill than he let on, and everyone was stunned by his sudden passing. This forced the writers to adjust their plans, as simply killing Arman off didn’t feel right. 

"We were already going to have his parents and family come onto the show. When we had to shift, we realized that we still wanted to create this space for Arman to return. We decided to continue with the storyline surrounding his backstory so that we were all able to explore his character through Thony and Nadia, and learn about Arman in a different way."

The pair talked about how it hurt to lose Canto while also taking advantage of new dynamics, such as Thony and Nadia having to work together. 

"We love exploring that dynamic. While there are a lot of emotions involved with their relationship, they are able to work together for this common goal. We also really love that their journey only begins in episode one, and there will be different twists and turns. [We’ll see] what happens with their relationship, how one may feel betrayed by the other, and how their stories will weave together throughout the season."

There are plenty of storylines for the show from Thony trying to get her son back to more criminal activities. The pair said the search for Arman will be a subplot through Season 3 and want to “honor the man and the character.”

It’s a challenge no showrunner wants and Canto’s loss is still deeply felt yet fans of The Cleaning Lady seem confident the series can do justice to Canto’s memory and how much he meant for the series.

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The Cleaning Lady Season 3 airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on FOX.