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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

TV Rewind | Desperate Housewives: Gossip Girl for grown-ups

Desperate Housewives started the same year as Sex and the City ended, and this was their attempt to fill the void left behind by the HBO show. However, instead of dealing with their own lives, the women here were often at the centre of a murder mystery.

Written by Sampada Sharma | New Delhi |
Updated: May 10, 2020 9:04:31 pm
tv rewind desperate housewives Desperate Housewives had a successful run of eight seasons.

2004 marked the end of cult HBO show Sex and the City, and it was now time for other networks to step up and assume that mantle. And in their own way, ABC’s Desperate Housewives tried to accomplish something similar. But, if you had to explain what this show was about now, it would be so much closer to Gossip Girl than Sex and the City.

What is Desperate Housewives all about?

The show is set in the fictional suburban city called Fairview, and it is on Wisteria Lane that all the action takes place. As the show opens, four women find out that the fifth friend of their group is now dead. She becomes the narrator of the series. And with every season, a new story arc is introduced, usually involving crime. All through these ups and downs, the four friends – Susan (Teri Hatcher), Lynette (Felicity Huffman), Bree (Marcia Cross) and Gabrielle (Eva Longoria) stick together, and since they are all housewives in the beginning, it’s called Desperate Housewives.

desperate housewives Desperate Housewives was known for its soapy yet engaging storylines.

Why Desperate Housewives is a young-adult drama meant for adults?

Now through the eight seasons, the show focuses on these women’s love lives, husbands, eventual careers, kids, but it’s not your everyday neighbourhood drama. Here, the big issues are a psychopathic killer on the loose, a family inviting a strangler to live with them, major characters ending up blind, kids who were swapped at birth and illegitimate children among more. This makes it the Gossip Girl for grown-ups.

Even though these characters are much older than the fake teens that we see on Gossip Girl, their actions are more-or-less the same. Making pacts so the identity of a murderer is concealed, splitting up with lovers because of a long-buried secret, having friends in the garb of enemies whose sole purpose is to ruin the main character’s life – basically the kind of schemes that are too complicated for one episode. But for some strange reason, the show that was about women and suburban lifestyle often found itself turning into a murder story. There were just so many killings happening on Wisteria Lane that it was strange to see that the characters were just so unfazed by it.

But what Desperate Housewives lacks in finesse, it makes up with its saucy storylines. The reason for the continued success of Desperate Housewives, in my opinion, was probably its ability to balance the soap opera-esque drama with some excellent cliffhangers. With the streaming platforms actively making content now, many of us have forgotten that it was actually the weekly TV model that gave birth to the binge model. Those weekly episodes left us hanging, and we had to wait days to find out what happened next. This is where shows like Desperate Housewives performed their best. What also helped is the ability to stretch one mystery storyline for the entire season.

Desperate Housewives Desperate Housewives dealt with a murder mystery in almost every season.

Best and worst bits of Desperate Housewives

Undoubtedly, the murder of Mary Alice that opens the show is an intriguing case that’s well put together. Also, the storyline of Lynette getting pregnant at a later age, her cancer storyline and even the one where she separates from her husband are all well done. For that matter, many of Bree’s stories that show a hint of her crooked side worked well too.

But just a few episodes in, Susan’s character starts faltering. In simple words, she is the Carrie (SATC) of this group. While Carrie could redeem herself time and again with some new made-up philosophy, the show doesn’t give Susan a chance to bounce back. From making her hop from lover to lover to then making her live in poverty, and even her teenage daughter making more sense than her, Susan always got the short end of the stick.

Desperate Housewives also started overdoing the murder mystery angle so much that it was hard to keep track of the number of people who had gotten affected by various psychopaths on the show through its run. Some of its worst storylines came in the form of Carlos’ blindness, Tom having an affair, the entire Dave storyline and even the story preceding Mike’s death.

TV Rewind | Quantico | Castle | The Middle | Weeds | 30 Rock | House MD | The Newsroom | Parenthood | Gilmore Girls | Bojack Horseman | Gossip Girl | Fleabag | The Americans | Mildred Pierce | How I Met Your Mother | Boston Legal | Death Note | Heroes | Felicity | Small Wonder | Breaking Bad | That 70s ShowAHS Roanoke | Friends | The West Wing | Sharp Objects | Patrick Melrose | AHS Murder House | Arrested Development | Two and a Half Men | Girls | The Good Wife | Dead Set | Dexter | Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip | The Office | Parks and Recreation | Fringe | Broadchurch | Seinfeld | Lost | Mad Men | Sex and the City

Legacy of Desperate Housewives

Through its eight-season run, Desperate Housewives won seven Primetime Emmy Awards and also picked up three Golden Globes. The show is remembered for its engaging storytelling style along with the ability to juggle various tracks at the same time.

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