LOS ANGELES, May 14, 2011 — After eight years, the ladies of Wisteria Lane said goodbye with a bang.
This was only appropriate for the show that began with a gunshot-inflicted suicide.
Actresses Teri Hatcher, Eva Longoria, Felicity Huffman and Marcia Cross gave us Susan Delfino, Gabrielle Solis, Lynette Sciavo, and Bree VanDeKamp. For eight seasons, crime, drama, and comedy were mixed together due to their individual and collective talents.
While some dismissed the show as Dallas or Dynasty minus the heavyweights, the show was different, and it came along at the right time.
Creator Marc Cherry might be one of the most unusual men in Hollywood. He is a gay Republican. Only after the show became a success did he come out of the closet and admit his politics. This was Hollywood after all. Yet while Mr. Cherry faced the politics of Hollywood, for the most part he kept the show remarkably apolitical with one exception.
There were a couple of storylines involving homosexuality. Gay neighbors Bob and Lee were allowed to adopt a child. Bree herself is a religious Christian who is mortified at her son telling her he is gay. By the end of the series, Bree has become a raging alcoholic and sex addict, but she comes to accept his lifestyle.
In terms of actual politicians, names were never mentioned or alluded to in any discernible way. That is one thing that made Desperate Housewives enjoyable. It really was pure escapism. This escapism came at a time when the country desperately needed it.
First the Towers came down on 9/11. Then in 2003 came the War in Iraq. Family sitcoms were dying out, reality television was the new medium. Programs in which people yelled at each other, ate bugs, and fed off of each other’s real life misery were everywhere.
Desperate Housewives was a blast to the past. It started with a suicide, but somehow still had people laughing during the first episode. Susan Meyer was a gorgeous woman who was still clumsy and insecure. Gabrielle Solis was cheating on her husband with the underage gardener.
The show took a lot of flak because this was statutory rape. Since the guy was 16 and Eva Longoria is Eva Longoria, this was accepted. Double standards exist for a reason, and she was not his schoolteacher. He was an independent contractor who could walk away at any time, as if any young man in his right mind would turn down Eva Longoria.
Lynette Sciavo was balancing four children with career, and would add another one before the series was out. They all loved her, and it was prim and proper Bree VanDeKamp who had a terrible relationship with her two children.
Husbands would come and go, but one thing stayed constant. Despite being in a campy, fictional setting, the characters were very well fleshed out. Ironically, despite being a show that featured women, the male characters were actually often more likable than the women. With some notably unhinged exceptions, they were good husbands and fathers.
Characters were killed off in an over-the-top manner. There were plane crashes, natural disasters, and brutal murders that were somehow funny. Yet almost all of the characters who survived were three-dimensional. Mrs. McLuskie started out as a cranky neighbor everyone hated. Yet she was a real person, and by the end she was a part of their and our lives.
The one constant was that as desperate as these women got, they did not get to the point of their neighbor Mary Alice Young. Brenda Strong’s character killed herself to start the series yet remained the narrator throughout. Her death gave them perspective at the most difficult times.
Throughout the series the ladies wondered if there was anything they could have done to have prevented the tragedy. Many men, including a ton of jocks, have been asking themselves that very question in the wake of a real life sports star suicide. Wisteria Lane reminded us that no matter how we feel about others, the person we should know, only after family, is our neighbor. The entire spectrum of life is covered by the best, worst, and least understood aspects of those of us who live next door or down the block.
As for the show itself, even guys could watch it. For men like myself who do not require something as complex as a plot, there was always Eva Longoria frolicking around in her underwear. Teri Hatcher also did her part to confirm that most men still had actively working viewing pulses. The show could be watched without the sound on and still be enjoyed. NFL Superstar Peyton Manning, on the sidelines of an intense game, remarked “This is more fun than Desperate Housewives.”
Yet even with the sound on, the ladies were fun to listen to. They were also fun to watch.
For eight years, after hours of watching the National Football League on Sundays, it was good to flip the channel at night and just enjoy escapism. Away from sports, politics, and reality television, there was pure fantasy.
Desperate Housewives should be remembered as a quality television show. It did not change history, but it never acted like it did. It was unpretentious. From beginning to end, it was simply a show that was well written, well acted, and well worth watching. And like Mary Alice eight years earlier, the show itself has now expired.
So to the ladies (and their husbands and neighbors) of Wisteria Lane, I think I speak for the gardener who got to sleep with Gabrielle Solis early on. It was fun while it lasted.
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