The Lowdown on: Desperate Housewives

September 2, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

desperate-housewives-011.jpgThis week, OntheBox brings you the Lowdown on not just one lone actor type, but a collection of them all starring in a whopping four seasons’ worth of twisted storylines.  Indeed, this week, The Lowdown is on a whole show!  Desperate Housewives has been gracing our tellies for quite some time now, and with the fifth series creeping up on us, we felt it was time to take a look back at times gone by for the domestic demonesses…

When did those Housewives get so darn desperate?

It all started four years ago when Desperate Housewives, the award-winning dark comedy-drama series created by Marc Cherry, found its way onto our screens in October 2004 introducing us to the pruned hedged bliss of Wisteria Lane, Fairview and the lives of a group of exceptionally good-looking wifey-types who lived there.

Told through the eyes of their dead neighbour, Mary Alice, she unravels the neatly woven exterior of the housewives’ seemingly perfect lives to reveal their domestic struggles, secrets and lies.

Low and behold, it turns out that each is not as squeaky clean as they’d have us believe.  As all four seasons have gone on and the death toll and bed notches have increased, the housewives have only acquired more reasons to fret.

Funny but dark…

In the first episode, after describing the normality of her day, original desperate housewife Mary Alice gets a revolver out of a suitcase and fairly calmly commits suicide, thereafter proceeding to tell the stories of her friends from beyond the grave.  One might quite accurately note that this lends the comic series a rather dark tone!

The show, with quirky credits showing a tongue-in-cheek look at women’s perceived role through the ages, has been compared by the creator to the black comedy film, American Beauty, as well as some of the sassy females being likened by others to those from Sex and the City and the mysteries to those of David Lynch’s classic TV series Twin Peaks.

Who’s who?

There’s a load of ladies in the show, all with their own complicated issues.  It would probably take roughly 86 hours (the length of all episodes thus far) to tell you about the true intricacies of their personal stories so instead, here’s a one-line description of the members of the inner fold:

susan.jpgSusan Mayer (Terri Hatcher) – divorced mother who frenziedly claws for true love


Lynette Scavo (Felicity Huffman) – dedicated businesswoman and thus unwilling housewife who gets cancer


Bree Van de Kamp (Marcia Cross) – Control freak mum and widow

gab_.jpgGabrielle Solis (Eva Longoria Parker) – ex-model trophy wife with urge to sleep with her gardener
edie.jpgEdie Britt (Nicolette Sheridan) – Neighbourhood slut

But was it always going to be this way?…

Actually, the role of Susan Mayer could have been played quite differently.  Back in the early days of casting, The West Wing’s Mary Louise Parker turned down the part.  Also, actress, Dana Delaney, who plays Katherine Mayfair in series four initially snubbed the main role of Bree Van de Kamp because “it wasn’t the right timing?- here’s for second chances!

Season Synopses in a Nutshell

Each series has added its own threads to the residents tangled web.

Season 1 (2004) introduced the central characters on Wisteria Lane.  The main source of intrigue was their neighbour’s unprompted suicide and the association of her husband and son beforehand.  Bree struggled to rescue her failing marriage and Susan and Edie fought for their new neighbour’s affections.  Meanwhile, Gabrielle carried on behind her husband’s back with the underage gardener.

Season 2 (2005) brought with it new neighbour Betty Applewhite, who moved in during the night.  Bree is now a widow but unwittingly starts dating the man who poisoned her husband and drifts more and more apart from her son as she turns to drink.  Susan’s ex-husband gets engaged to Edie and Lynette goes back to work after struggling to cope with being at home.  Gabrielle has now ditched the gardener and is preparing to have a child with her husband.

Season 3 (2006) sees Bree marry a man with a troubled past.  Lynette has to get used to her husband’s as yet unmentioned daughter being around and Gabrielle divorces her husband but finds solace in the affections of the mayor.  Susan and Edie seek men as ever.

Season 4 (2007) lands yet another new neighbour in Wisteria Lane, Katherine Mayfair, but she has previously lived there twelve years ago.  Lynette gets cancer, Gabrielle has an affair with her ex-husband, Susan gets pregnant and Bree plans a fake pregnancy to raise her daughter’s child as her own.  A gay couple from Chicago come to Wisteria Lane.


More Desperation for the Housewives?

The fifth series is due to be aired in the US on September 28th 2008.  Excitingly, it’s going to be set some five years in the future.  This should give the writers a pretty clean slate for creating some additional mystery in the lives of the already familiarly complex characters, many of whom will be staying on.

They will, of course, be joined by some fresh faces with their very own desperation.  Looking forward to it.  The more suburban unease the better.