When ads for "Desperate Housewives" first began running on ABC in late 2004, I distinctly remembered getting very excited. Not one to enjoy reality shows, I was getting sick and tired of the Fox mentality that had infected other networks. The public was finally starting to crave scripted dramas once again, and Marc Cherry was there to deliver with his unique creation.
Deep within the heart of the fictional suburban town Fairview lies Wisteria Lane. In this fairy tale community littered only with picket fences and manicured lawns, you would think that a brown betty bakes in every oven, a father and son play catch in every backyard, and a girl plays with her dolls in every pink bedroom, but something much more horrific lies beneath the surface.
The series starts with the earth-shattering suicide of Mary Alice Young, which leaves the neighborhood in a frenzy trying to figure out why the seemingly perfect wife and mother decided to suddenly take her own life. That is until our four main ladies find a blackmail note claiming, "I know what you did. It makes me sick. I'm going to tell." Their startling discovery is the basis for the entire series, as the remaining housewives try to figure out the mystery that lies deep within Wisteria Lane, while battling with everyday dramas as well.
The "Desperate Housewives" title logo, as it appears in the opening credits. The four central housewives peer out onto their home street, Wisteria Lane. Marcia Cross plays Bree Van De Kamp, the most daedal of the leading characters.
The characters themselves are just as complicated as the storylines. Creator Cherry says each woman is based on certain aspects of his own mother. Closest to Marc's mum is Bree Van De Kamp (Marcia Cross), a WASPish perfectionist arguably the most daedal of the housewives. Bree upholds a severe and sharp exterior while hiding an extremely vulnerable psyche.
She is perhaps my favorite character because of her ability to "tell it like it is." She holds nothing back and rarely spares peoples feelings.
On the other hand, Susan Mayer (Teri Hatcher), is exactly the opposite; she is vulnerable on all levels. The bumbling single mom to teenaged daughter Julie (Andrea Bowen) rarely has an error-free moment. We love Susan because we feel sorry for her. She has never had a good break, and when it seems things are finally looking up for her, she does something terrible to screw it up.
Gabrielle Solis (Eva Longoria) is perhaps the most deceitful of all the housewives. She not-so-successfully juggles a husband (Ricardo Antonio Chavira) and a teenaged lover (Jesse Metcalfe), still managing to look beautiful all the while. A former model, Gabrielle stands for the girl who came from nothing and rose out of the ashes into something, just to throw it all away for nothing again. Oddly enough, we root for Gabrielle even though she really doesn't deserve it.
Teri Hatcher plays the clumsy and vulnerable Susan Mayer. Gabrielle Solis (Eva Longoria) leads a duplicitous and complicated life with her money-making husband Carlos (Ricardo Antonio Chavira). Edie Britt (Nicollette Sheridan) is the neighborhood sexpot.
But perhaps the person we cheer for the most is Lynette Scavo (Felicity Huffman, who recently won the Outstanding Lead Actress Emmy award). The once-successful businesswoman-turned-stay-at-home-mom is likely the funniest of the four. Her deadpan view of life and curiously casual relationship with her husband Tom would make any woman strive to be like her. That is, until you meet her children! This brood of four make birth control look very good. Cherry says he came up with the idea for Lynette's character when he learned of the horrible tragedy surrounding child-drowner Andrea Yates's family. He claims that when he talked to his mother about the murders, she simply replied, "Yeah, I've been there." With this oft-tested character, Marc recognizes that every mother has been driven to the edge by her kids at one point.
Speaking of on the edge, there's also Edie Britt (Nicollette Sheridan), the woman who has no friends, no man to speak of, and thanks to Susan, no home. She's a man-eater but has a certain desperation about her that makes the audience pity her. No matter how much you want Edie Britt to get her just desserts, you can't help but hope everything turns out okay for her in the end.
The thickening plot on Wisteria Lane speaks of just about every neighborhood in Suburbia, USA. Everyone has secrets they wish to hide from their neighbors and on the flip side, everyone wants to know just exactly what their neighbors are up to. From borrowing a cup of sugar to peeking in the back windows, we all have ways of keeping tabs on the people next door. Cherry takes this idea, adds a massive amount of his own family history, spices it with a little Donna Reed and June Cleaver, hits purée and ends up with "Desperate Housewives". This Stepford Wives-meet-"Married...with Children"-style dramedy serves up a healthy portion of murder, lies, deceit, intrigue, romance, comedy, and horror all on one plate, and it tastes delicious.