Sunday, May 13, 2012

Desperate Housewives Ends with Wit, and a Touch of Darkness

Eight years ago the women of Wisteria Lanes landed in the lives of television audiences everywhere.  Throughout the years the show centered on four different housewives who came together in friendship to trade recipes, play poker, gossip, and deal with dark reality of everyday life.  The four women were Lynette Scavo (Felicity Huffman) Bree Van de Kamp (Marcia Cross), Gabrielle Solis (Eva Longoria) and Susan Mayer (Terri Hatcher).  

The characters on this show were created by Marc Cherry who has done work on shows like The Golden Girls.  Cherry created and often wrote for this show, and he set the tone, making this one witty and dark television series.  This show began with a bang literally!  Cherry killed a housewife in the first episode.  Mary Alice Young (Brenda Strong) was harboring a terrible secret and one of her neighbors blackmailed her, and with that back mail Mary Alice decided to take her own life and killed herself.  Cherry made this moment, and the eternal "desperate" act.  Mary Alice's four friends made it their pledge to figure out what happened to their friend, while living their own lives, and feeling helpless.  Mary Alice also became the narrator and voice behind the dark and eerie tone that made the show brilliant.  When you hear Brenda Strong speak you know she is pointing out the lessons learned, and the darkness of the those people failed to learn.

After watching Mary Alice take her life we watched all of the other women deal with their own baggage. Susan was clumsily falling for one of the suspects in a murder investigation her eventual husband Mike Delfino (James Denton).  Lynette was grappling with her four children, and a husband Tom (Doug Savant) who was never home to help.  Gabby was mistreated by her husband Carlos (Ricardo Chivara) and decided to sleep with her gardener.  This became a laughable talk of conversation for women all over the place.  Then there is the ever perfect housewife Bree whose husband was cheating on her with the neighborhood madam, and her son was gay. There was of course the neighborhood single housewife Edie Britt (Nicollete Sheridan) who sadly did not end up in the finale, because of her suing Cherry (but that's neither here nor there for the moment). This is all just the drama from season one!

Throughout the first year of this show there was a re-imagining of the way we looked at suburban mom.  There had been films like American Beauty and Stepford Wives which challenge the sensibility of the suburbs, but Cherry took the bull by the horns and create an incredibly fun show that had an incredible impact on the landscape of television.  The show was set up to poke fun at the day to day of the modern housewife, but it also shine a light on the darker edge within this world.  People go to the suburbs to escape, and hide (often) and they feel as though this place will keep them protected from all the bad in the the world, but boy are they wrong.

Throughout the years this show pushed the envelope and show reality, often in a sometimes campy way, but made the world of Wisteria Lane fun and exciting.  Beyond the four main women their was of course the other neighbors who made this street an unforgettable place.  Mrs. McCluskey (Kathryn Joosten) was one of the highlights of this show; she was the "mean old lady" on the block but there was a heart of gold.  Then Katherine Mayfair (Dana Delaney) came back to Wisteria Lane with her own dark secrets; she was also competition for Bree in the homemake department.  Renee Perry (Vanessa Williams) was an old college friend of Lynette and took up residence on the street causing her own drama for the four ladies. These were just three of the neighbors in the shows long history.  they represent only a glimpse into the side lives on this street, and they played a significant roles.

People were not the only thing to have a huge impact on the main four woman, disasters also seemed to take their toll on the women.  There were a lot guns, a tornado, a plane crash, fire, and a riot.  Each of these dark major moments brought the women to the brink incorporating those surrounding them and how people all around them felt moments of chaos explode on them.

The show imploded on itself as the years passed, they tackled some solid material, but also sometimes relied too much on cheap tricks, and pointless mysteries that took away the focus of the show.  Cherry loved this tactic so much he used it as a central focal point of most of the seasons, and it did not always work, especially in season two with the Applewhites.  Betty Applewhite (Alfre Woodard) moved her family to town, and they had a big secret, but there was no connection to the show, and Desperate Houseives looked, well desperate.  I gave up on the show after the season where the show used another cheap ploy, fast forwarding five years.  I gave up in the middle of the sixth season, but decided to tune in and watch these women say goodbye to Wisteria Lane.

The first hour tied up the story lines from the year with Bree on trial for killing Gabby's step dad.  While I did not watch I was pretty up to date with the major moments of what happened in the show.  Katherine Joosten's Mrs. McCluskey had many of my favorite moments during the night; she was a bigger part of this show, and her character's "mean old lady" turned into an incredibly deep love able character.

There were a lot of great homages to the first episode and the first season. I liked watching how Mary Alice's black mailer and neighbor Martha got obsessed with finding out her secret.  Lynette running into the same women she did in the first episode where her children were going crazy in the grocery store, love watching this interaction.  My other favorite moment was watching Gabby become like Carlos from season one, and having Carlos hire a hot female gardener, this made me chuckle.  The flash forward was nice, but the real moment that tied everything so nicely together was Susan greeting the woman who bought her house, and watching Susan drive around the street, and seeing the ghosts who "watch over" the street, boy did they kill off a lot of people on this show!  The last person was Mary Alice and her voice soon turned to the dark and ominous tone as the camera went to the women who bought Susan's house having a dark secret, then black.  Well done.  While the show had many ups and down (more downs) it ended well, and kept the tone of series mixing wonderful with and a touch of darkness.

No comments: