Desperate Housewives is an American television comedy-drama-mystery series created by Marc Cherry and produced by ABC Studios and Cherry Productions. It aired Sundays at 9 P.M. Eastern/8 P.M. Central, on ABC from October 3, 2004, until May 13, 2012. Executive producer Cherry served as showrunner. Other executive producers since the fourth season included Bob Daily, George W. Perkins, John Pardee, Joey Murphy, David Grossman, and Larry Shaw.
The main setting of the show was Wisteria Lane, a street in the fictional American town of 'Fairview' in the fictional 'Eagle State'. The show followed the lives of a group of women as seen through the eyes of a dead neighbor who committed suicide in the very first episode. The storyline covers thirteen years of the women's lives over eight seasons, set between the years 2004–2008, and later 2013–2017 (the story arc included a 5 year passage of time). They worked through domestic struggles and family life, while facing the secrets, crimes and mysteries hidden behind the doors of their — at the surface — beautiful and seemingly perfect suburban neighborhood.
The show featured an ensemble cast, headed by Teri Hatcher as Susan Mayer, Felicity Huffman as Lynette Scavo, Marcia Cross as Bree Van de Kamp, and Eva Longoria as Gabrielle Solis. Brenda Strong narrated the show as the deceased Mary Alice Young, appearing sporadically in flashbacks or dream sequences.
Since its premiere on ABC on October 3, 2004, the show had been well received by viewers and critics alike. The show is a multiple Emmy, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award winner. The series premiere drew 21.6 million viewers and the show's first season finale attracted over 30 million viewers. In 2007, it was reported to be the most popular show in its demographic worldwide, with an audience of approximately 120 million and was also reported that the series is the third most watched TV show in a study of ratings in 20 countries. In 2012, it remained as the most-watched comedy series internationally based on data from Eurodata TV Worldwide, which measured ratings across five continents; it has held this position since 2006. Moreover, it was the third-highest revenue earning show for 2010, with US$2.74 million per half hour. The show placed #56 on Entertainment Weekly's "New TV Classics" list.
Desperate Housewives was officially renewed by ABC on May 17, 2011 for an eighth and final season. The season premiere episode was broadcast on Sunday, September 25. The eighth season was the show's final season. The series concluded on May 13, 2012. By the end of its eighth and final season, it had surpassed Charmed as the longest running hour-long television series featuring all female leads by two episodes. Housewives was also the most watched series finale of 2012.
Desperate Housewives is now syndicated internationally.
- 1 Production
- 2 Series synopses and episodes
- 3 Cast and characters
- 4 Reception
- 5 Other media and merchandise
- 6 References
- 7 External links
The idea for the series was conceived as Marc Cherry and his mother were watching a news report on Andrea Yates. Prior to Desperate Housewives, Cherry was best known for producing and writing episodes of Touchstone Television's hit comedy series The Golden Girls and its successor, The Golden Palace. In addition, he had created or co-created three sitcoms: The 5 Mrs. Buchanans, The Crew and Some of My Best Friends, none of which lasted longer than a year. Cherry had difficulty in getting any television network interested in his new series; HBO, CBS, NBC, Fox, Showtime, and Lifetime all turned the show down. Finally, two new executives at ABC, Lloyd Braun and Susan Lyne, chose to greenlight it, reportedly after The O.C. on Fox premiered in 2003 and showed that a soap opera could succeed in prime time. Shortly thereafter, Disney had both Braun and Lyne fired, following their approval of another new drama series: Lost.
The ABC executives were not initially satisfied with the name of the new show, suggesting Wisteria Lane and The Secret Lives of Housewives instead,. However, on October 23, 2003, Desperate Housewives was announced by ABC, presented as a prime time soap opera created by Charles Pratt, Jr. of Melrose Place fame, and Marc Cherry, who declared the new show to be a mix of Knots Landing and American Beauty. While Cherry continued his work on the show, Pratt was credited as executive producer for the pilot episode only, remaining linked to the show as a consulting producer during the first two seasons.
On May 18, 2004, ABC announced the 2004–2005 lineup, with Desperate Housewives in the Sunday at 9:00–10:00 p.m. ET slot, which it held all through the run of the show. After only three episodes were broadcast, on October 20, ABC announced that Desperate Housewives, along with Lost, had been picked up for a full season. A couple a weeks later after Housewives premiered the owners of NBC called to see who had passed on the series due to its ratings success.
Desperate Housewives was produced by creator Marc Cherry (Cherry Productions), Austin Bagley and, since 2007, ABC Studios. From 2004 to 2007, Desperate Housewives was produced in association with Touchstone Television.
Cherry, Tom Spezialy and Michael Edelstein served as executive producers for the first two seasons on the show. Spezialy, who also served as a staff writer, left his previous position as writer and executive producer for Dead Like Me to join the crew on Desperate Housewives. He had also worked as writer and co-executive producer on several shows, among them Ed, Jack and Jill, and Parker Lewis Can't Lose, while Edelstein had been the executive producer of Threat Matrix and Hope & Faith.
Second season conflicts arose among the executive producers. Subsequent to this, Edelstein left the show mid-season, and by the season's end, so did Spezialy. For the third year, Cherry was joined by award-winning writer and producer Joe Keenan—of Frasier fame—and television movie producer George W. Perkins, who had been a crew member of Desperate Housewives since the show's conception. Although receiving praise for his work on the show, Keenan chose to leave Desperate Housewives after one season to pursue other projects. Replacing him as executive producer for the fourth season of the show was Bob Daily, who had joined the crew as a writer and co-executive producer during the third season. Daily's previous work include writing for the animated series Rugrats, as for Frasier. Also joining Cherry, Perkins and Daily for the fourth season were John Pardee and Joey Murphy, who had been with the series since the beginning. Both had also worked on Cherry's previous show The Crew in 1995, as well as on the sitcom Cybill.
Desperate Housewives was filmed on Panavision 35 mm cameras (except for the final season, which was shot digitally on the Arri Alexa). It was broadcast in standard and 16:9 widescreen high definition, though it was framed for the 4:3 aspect ratio until the final season.
The set for Wisteria Lane, consisting mainly of facades but also of some proper houses, was located on the Universal Studios Hollywood back lot. It was referred to by film crews as Colonial Street, and has been used for several motion pictures and television shows since the mid-1940s. Notable productions that were filmed here include: So Goes My Love, Leave it to Beaver, The 'Burbs, Providence, Deep Impact, Bedtime for Bonzo, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Gremlins, The Munsters, Psycho, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. For the second season of Desperate Housewives, the street went through some heavy changes. Among the most noticeable of these changes was the removal of a church facade and a mansion in order to make room for Edie's house and a park.
Filming for the series ended April 26, 2012.
The initial idea for the show opening sequence was Cherry's. After asking sixteen companies to come up with suggestions for how best to realize it, the producers finally hired Hollywood-based yU+co to provide the final version. According to the yU+co's official website, the idea behind the sequence is, "to evoke the show's quirky spirit and playful flouting of women's traditional role in society." The images featured are taken from eight pieces of art, portraying domesticity and male-female relations through the ages.
The music for the opening is composed by Danny Elfman, and has been awarded both an Emmy Award and the BMI TV Music Award. In 2005 it was included on the album Music from and Inspired by Desperate Housewives. When an episode runs long, only the first sequence (the falling apple) is kept. From the episode "Now You Know" onwards, only the main chorus of the theme is heard, which is the falling apple scene, and the photograph of the four lead actresses, crediting Marc Cherry as creator.
In addition to the theme composed by Danny Elfman, the series underscore music, composed by Steve Jablonsky since the second episode of the first season, defines the overall sound of the show by creating a musical counterpoint to the writing style. The score is electronic-based, but every scoring session incorporates a live string ensemble. Jablonsky incorporates recurring themes for events and characters into the score. Hollywood Records produced the first soundtrack album, Music from and Inspired by Desperate Housewives distributed by Universal Records. Several of those songs have been used in subsequent seasons.
Housewives's unique style combined with the heavy dialogue and a quick-fire writing style limits the amount of popular music used within the series. The series' music supervisor, David Sibley, works closely with the producers to integrate these musical needs into the show. In addition to featured performances by central characters such as Susan Mayer singing along with Rose Royce's "Car Wash" and Lynette's rendition of "Boogie Shoes", several characters have been accomplished musicians, such as Betty Applewhite (a concert pianist) and Dylan Mayfair (a prodigy cellist).
In August 2009, Marc Cherry said that Desperate Housewives would be on television for a few more years, stating that the series still "has a lot of life left in it." He told The Wrap:
Steve McPherson (ABC Entertainment president) and I agree that we shouldn't keep the show going for more than a couple [of] years past my seven-year initial contract. We don't want it to just fade away. We've been in negotiations. I expect to sign my new deal soon to set up a future scenario for the show. Someone else will run the show after season seven and I will serve as executive producer from a distance.
He went on to explain that he felt the program had been revitalized by the five-year leap forward for season five, saying: "Yes, I think it worked well. It was a way to start fresh and let everyone start from scratch in a way".
In October 2009, Cherry signed a two-year deal with ABC that could keep Desperate Housewives on the air until 2013. The stars of Desperate Housewives finalized new deals to make way for Season 8, and signed at the price of $12 million.
Originally, Marc Cherry hinted that Desperate Housewives would end in 2013 and in April 2011, Eva Longoria confirmed that there would definitely be an eighth season and expressed hopes for a ninth. Desperate Housewives was officially renewed by ABC on May 17, 2011 for an eighth season.
It's confirmed! We are filming our last season of Desperate Housewives! I am so grateful for what the show has given me! We always knew we wanted to end on top and I thank ABC for giving us our victory lap! And a special thanks to Marc Cherry who forever changed my life!
Marc Cherry, the show's creator, made a cameo as a mover in the last scene of the final episode.
Series synopses and episodes
The first season premiered on October 3, 2004, and introduces the four central characters of the show: Susan Mayer, Lynette Scavo, Bree Van de Kamp and Gabrielle Solis, as well as their families and neighbors on Wisteria Lane. The main mystery of the season is the unexpected suicide of Mary Alice Young, and the involvement of her husband Paul Young (Mark Moses) and their son Zach (Cody Kasch) in the events leading up to it. Susan fights Edie Britt (Nicollette Sheridan) for the affection of new neighbor Mike Delfino (James Denton), Lynette struggles to cope with her demanding children, Bree fights to save her marriage to Rex Van de Kamp (Steven Culp), and Gabrielle tries to prevent her husband Carlos Solis (Ricardo Antonio Chavira) from discovering that she is having an affair with their gardener, John Rowland (Jesse Metcalfe).
The second season premiered on September 25, 2005 and its central mystery is that of new neighbor Betty Applewhite (Alfre Woodard), who moved onto Wisteria Lane in the middle of the night. Throughout the season, Bree tries to cope with being a widow, unknowingly begins dating the man who poisoned her husband, fights alcoholism, and is unable to prevent the gap between her and her son Andrew Van de Kamp (Shawn Pyfrom) from growing to extremes. Susan's love life becomes even more complicated as her ex-husband Karl Mayer (Richard Burgi) is engaged to Edie and is also started to incline towards Susan. Lynette goes back to her career in advertising while her husband Tom Scavo (Doug Savant) becomes a stay-at-home father, and Gabrielle decides to be faithful to Carlos, and begins preparations to have a child. Paul is framed and sent to jail not for the murder he committed in the previous season, but for a fake one.
The third season premiered on September 24, 2006. In the third season, Bree marries Orson Hodge (Kyle MacLachlan), whose past and involvement with a recently discovered dead body becomes the main mystery of the season. Meanwhile, Lynette has to adjust to the arrival of Tom's previously unknown daughter to the home. The Scavos also experience tension as Tom wants to start a pizzeria. Gabrielle goes through a rough divorce, but finally finds new love in Fairview's new mayor. After being run over by Orson in the previous season finale, Mike falls into coma and suffers from amnesia when he wakes up. Edie sees her chance to make her move on Mike, and her family relations are explored throughout the season. Susan loses hope that Mike's memory will return and in the process moves on to a handsome Englishman whose wife is also in a coma, while her daughter Julie Mayer (Andrea Bowen) starts dating Edie's nephew. Elderly neighbor Karen McCluskey (Kathryn Joosten) hides something in her freezer. A shooting at the local grocery store leaves two characters dead and changes everyone's lives forever.
The fourth season premiered on September 30, 2007, and its main mystery revolves around new neighbor Katherine Mayfair (Dana Delany) and her family, who return to Wisteria Lane after twelve years away. Lynette battles cancer; the newlywed – but unhappy – Gabrielle starts an affair with her ex-husband Carlos; Susan and Mike enjoy life as a married couple and learn that they are expecting a child; Bree fakes a pregnancy and plans to raise her teenage daughter's illegitimate child as her own; and Edie schemes to hold on to her new love, Carlos. A gay couple from Chicago – Lee McDermott (Kevin Rahm) and Bob Hunter (Tuc Watkins) – become residents of Wisteria Lane. A tornado threatens to destroy everything, and everyone, that the housewives hold dear. In the closing minute the characters and their story have flashed forward by five years.
The fifth season premiered on September 28, 2008, with the time period jumping five years after the previous season, with some flashbacks to events which happened between the two periods. The season mystery revolves around Edie's new husband, Dave Williams (Neal McDonough), who is looking for revenge on someone on Wisteria Lane (later revealed to be Mike). Susan deals with being a single mother and having a new romance with her painter, while Mike starts dating Katherine. Lynette and Tom learn that their now teenage son is having an affair with a married woman whose husband's nightclub burns down with all of Wisteria Lane's neighbors inside. Gabrielle struggles with Carlos's blindness, two young daughters, and a financial crisis. Bree and Orson have marriage problems because Bree has become too focused on her career as a successful cookbook writer and caterer. Edie dies of electrocution after a car crash, before she can expose Dave moments after she discovers his secret.
The sixth season premiered on Sunday, September 27, 2009 at 9pm. The main mystery of this season is surrounding new neighbor Angie Bolen (Drea de Matteo) and her family. The first half of the season consists of Julie being strangled by an unknown person, the conflict between Gabrielle and her niece Ana Solis (Maiara Walsh), Lynette's attempt to sue her new boss Carlos, Katherine's eventual breakdown at losing Mike to Susan, and Bree's affair with Karl, which ends tragically when Karl's hired plane crashes into a building with the two of them and Orson inside. The second half of the season focuses on Katherine experimenting with her sexuality, Lynette inviting the Fairview strangler to stay with them before discovering the truth, the conflict between Bree and a son of Rex whom he had before meeting Bree, and the solving of the Bolen mystery.
The seventh season premiered on September 26, 2010 and its main mystery is Paul's return to Wisteria Lane with a new wife and with plans of punishing the residents for shunning him during his incarceration, while an old archnemesis of his still plans to get her own revenge on him. Lynette's best friend from college Renee Perry (Vanessa Williams) moves to the lane and stirs things up among the other housewives. Gabrielle and Carlos learn an unsettling fact about their daughter Juanita Solis (Madison De La Garza), which ultimately takes them back to Gabrielle's home town of Las Colinas. A now divorced Bree starts dating her contractor, and reveals the truth about the death of Carlos's mother, consequently ending the friendship between the Solis family and Bree. Due to financial problems, Susan and her family have moved off the lane, and Susan is forced to earn money by somewhat untraditional means. Following a major riot on the lane, Susan is put on the waiting list for a vital organ donation. Lynette persuades Tom to take an exciting new job, which leads to unprecedented problems in their marriage.
The eighth and final season premiered on Sunday, September 25, 2011. The main mystery of the season is the death of Gabrielle's perverted stepfather Alejandro Perez (Tony Plana) at Carlos's hands, and its cover-up by the four housewives, which occurred in the previous season finale. After the murder, Bree receives a blackmail letter from an unknown person similar to the one Mary Alice had received in the 1st season. Due to her relationship with detective Chuck Vance (Jonathan Cake), Bree becomes the main character affected by the cover-up of Alejandro's murder, and is eventually accused of killing Alejandro herself. A new neighbor, Ben Faulkner (Charles Mesure), moves into the lane, attracting Renee along the way. Ben is going through severe financial problems, and resorts to a dangerous and unruly loan shark to bail him out. Mike meddles in the business of Ben's loan shark in an attempt to protect Renee, but he pays the ultimate price. During the first half of the season, Susan struggles with the guilt of her involvement in the Alejandro case, and during the second half, she tries to deal with both Julie's unexpected pregnancy and Mike's death. Following the cover-up of Alejandro's murder, Carlos develops an alcohol problem, but Gabrielle persuades him to recover in rehab, which eventually results in Gabrielle and Carlos switching house roles. Tom moves out of the family home, and Lynette struggles to come to terms with how quickly Tom seems to have moved on, until she accepts that she is still in love with him, and decides she will try to win him back. Mrs. McCluskey receives worrying news about her health and decides to end it all, but Bree manages to convince her otherwise.
The two-hour series finale which aired on Sunday, May 13, 2012, featured the conclusion of Bree's court case. To bring the series to conclusion, there was a wedding, a birth, and a death, and the future of the four main housewives was revealed.
Cast and characters
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During its premiere season the show featured thirteen starring actors, all credited in the opening sequence. For the show's second year, several actors, mainly child and teenage ones, who had guest starred during the first season, were promoted to series regulars without having their names included in the opening sequence. Instead they were billed as "also starring" during the first minutes of each episode, together with episode guest stars. This practice continued for season three and four.
The fourteen starring actors for season one included four leading actresses: Teri Hatcher as Susan Mayer, a divorced mother with a sense of humor for drama and in search of love; Felicity Huffman as Lynette Scavo, a former businesswoman turned stressed out stay-at-home mother of four; Marcia Cross as Bree Van de Kamp, the seemingly perfect mother struggling to save her marriage; and Eva Longoria as Gabrielle Solis, an ex-model whose unhappy marriage has had her beginning an affair with her 17-year-old gardener. Furthermore, Nicollette Sheridan played Edie Britt, Susan's arch rival, described by her as "the neighborhood slut", who since then slowly had grown to become somewhat of a fifth lead. Steven Culp played Rex Van de Kamp, Bree's frustrated husband with secret sexual desires, while Ricardo Antonio Chavira portrayed Gabrielle's spouse Carlos Solis, a rough business man who regarded his wife mainly as a trophy, and James Denton acted as Mike Delfino, the mysterious new neighbor who becomes Susan's love interest. Brenda Strong portrayed the show's narrator Mary Alice Young, who generally does not appear in front of the camera, and whose unexpected suicide in the first episode remained a mystery throughout season one. Mark Moses played Paul Young, Mary Alice's widower, who went to extremes not to have the reason for his wife's suicide revealed, and Cody Kasch acted as Zach Young, the troubled teenage son of Paul and Mary Alice, who eventually turned out to be Mike's biological son. Finally, Andrea Bowen took the part of Susan's caring and kind-hearted teenage daughter Julie Mayer, and Jesse Metcalfe played John Rowland, Gabrielle's teenage gardener/lover.
For the second season, Culp and Metcalfe left as show regulars, as Rex died from a heart attack and Gabrielle had ended her relationship with John. Several actors who had appeared as guest stars during the entire run of the first season were promoted to regulars for the second year, including Doug Savant as Tom Scavo, Lynette's husband who for the second season quit his job determined to become a stay-at-home dad; Brent Kinsman, Shane Kinsman and Zane Huett as Preston, Porter and Parker Scavo, Lynette and Tom's rascal boys; Shawn Pyfrom as Bree's complicated gay son Andrew Van de Kamp; and Joy Lauren as Danielle Van de Kamp, Andrew's hardheaded sister. Alfre Woodard and Mehcad Brooks joined the cast as Betty Applewhite and her son Matthew, who moved to the street in the middle of the night in order for the neighbors not to discover that they had Betty's other son Caleb – originally played by Page Kennedy, but soon replaced by NaShawn Kearse – locked up in the basement. Also joining the main cast for the second season, after guest starring in a few season one episodes, were Richard Burgi as Karl Mayer, Susan's ex-husband who becomes engaged to Edie, and Roger Bart as George Williams, Bree's pharmacist, and later obsessed fiancé, who had caused Rex's death. Bart, however, left the show mid-season, due to the death of George.
As the Applewhite mystery was solved in the second season finale, Woodard, Brooks and Kearse all had left the show when the third season began, as had Moses, as Paul was framed for murder and incarcerated; Kasch, due to Zach's becoming a millionaire after causing his ill biological grandfather to die and thereby inheriting his entire fortune; and Burgi, following Karl being dumped by both Susan and Edie. Two additions were made to the main cast for season three: Kyle MacLachlan as Orson Hodge, who marries Bree and whose dark family history serves as the main mystery for most of the season, and Josh Henderson, playing Edie's bad boy nephew Austin McCann, who starts a relationship with Julie, but ends up getting Danielle pregnant and left the series mid-season.
For the fourth season, after having appeared as a recurring guest star during season three, Rachel Fox was added to the main cast playing Kayla Scavo, Tom's daughter from a previous "one night stand". Also joining the main cast were Dana Delany and Lyndsy Fonseca as Katherine and Dylan Mayfair, a mother and teenage daughter who lived on Wisteria Lane twelve years earlier, but had left the street. Almost all actors portraying the housewives' children, except Pyfrom, left the main cast after the fourth season finale.
Neal McDonough joined the cast of Desperate Housewives as a series regular in the fifth season. He played Dave Williams, the new husband of Edie. Max and Charlie Carver were cast as Preston and Porter Scavo, respectively, Joshua Logan Moore as Parker Scavo and Kendall Applegate as Penny Scavo. Sheridan left the cast when Edie was killed off near the end of season 5, as did McDonough when his character's mystery was resolved. Pyfrom quit his regular role as Andrew after season 5 and only made guest appearances in later seasons.
In the show's sixth season, Bowen re-joined the series' cast as a regular. After appearing as a guest star in the fifth season finale, Maiara Walsh was made into a regular actress as Ana Solis, Carlos's niece. Drea de Matteo, Jeffrey Nordling, and Beau Mirchoff joined the cast as Angie, Nick and Danny Bolen, respectively, being the season's mystery. Kathryn Joosten was promoted to a series regular, after being a recurring guest star for five years as elderly neighbor Karen McCluskey. Madison De La Garza, who plays Gabrielle's eldest daughter Juanita Solis, and Mason Vale Cotton, who plays Susan and Mike's son M.J. Delfino, were also promoted to regulars. Max Carver was not on the show until his character, Preston, returned from an extended trip in Europe with a girlfriend, thus being demoted to a recurring cast member, supposedly because the show's cast was big enough already. Delaney left the main cast when the character of Katherine moved indefinitely to Paris, as did Walsh when hers moved to New York. De Matteo, Nordling and Mirchoff also left when their characters' mystery was resolved.
As of the seventh season Tuc Watkins and Kevin Rahm, who have played respectively Bob Hunter and Lee McDermott, a gay couple, have both been upgraded to series regulars, and Kyle MacLachlan left Desperate Housewives. Moses returned to reprise his role as Paul, but left again the main cast when his character's mystery was resolved at the end of the season. Vanessa Williams joined the cast of Desperate Housewives as Renee Perry, an old rival of Lynette's from college. The role of Penny was recast, with Applegate being replaced by Darcy Rose Byrnes.
In the eighth season, the cast was joined by Jonathan Cake, who made special guest appearances towards the end of Season 7 in the role of Chuck Vance, a love interest for Bree. Charles Mesure also joined the cast as Ben Faulkner, a ruthless self-made contractor, who finds himself attracted to Renee. Furthermore, Bowen, Burgi, Culp, Delany, MacLachlan, Moses, Pyfrom and Lauren reprised their respective roles as Julie Mayer, Karl Mayer, Rex Van de Kamp, Katherine Mayfair, Orson Hodge, Paul Young, Andrew and Danielle Van de Kamp in some capacity in one or more 2012 episodes.
Kathryn Joosten, in real life, had lung cancer (like her character Karen McCluskey in the show), and after an 11 year battle sadly mirrored the show's series finale fate of her character. She died of lung cancer on the morning of June 2, 2012 only about twenty days after the onscreen death from cancer of her character.
Eva Longoria was the first reported to have landed a starring role, on February 9, 2004, followed by Felicity Huffman (February 10), Teri Hatcher (February 18), James Denton and Ricardo Antonio Chavira (February 26), Marcia Cross (March 1), Sheryl Lee, Mark Moses, and Cody Kasch (March 3), Andrea Bowen and Kyle Searles (March 4), and Michael Reilly Burke (March 8). On May 18, 2004 ABC announced their 2004–2005 lineup, with Desperate Housewives as one of its new shows, starring an ensemble cast of these twelve names.
On July 2, after having shot the first pilot, ABC announced that Lee, Searles and Burke were to be replaced by Brenda Strong, Jesse Metcalfe and Steven Culp, respectively. While Lee was turned down after producers rethought the character of Mary Alice, Searles was replaced because of the lack of chemistry between him and his onscreen lover, Eva Longoria. Steven Culp had been the producer's first choice for the part as Rex Van de Kamp, but as he had missed a meeting with the ABC executive to complete shooting for another television show, Star Trek: Enterprise, the part had been offered to Burke instead. After the original pilot was filmed, Culp was off the Enterprise cast, and when asked again Culp accepted the part, and Burke was let go.
|Season||Timeslot (EDT)||Season premiere||Season finale||TV season||Rank||Viewers
|1||Sunday 9:00 P.M.||October 3, 2004||May 22, 2005||2004–05||#4||23.69||10.66|
|2||September 25, 2005||May 21, 2006||2005–06||#4||21.70||10.09|
|3||September 24, 2006||May 20, 2007||2006–07||#12||16.70||7.57|
|4||September 30, 2007||May 18, 2008||2007–08||#8||17.52||6.71|
|5||September 28, 2008||May 17, 2009||2008–09||#9||15.66||5.29|
|6||September 27, 2009||May 16, 2010||2009–10||#20||12.83||4.25|
|7||September 26, 2010||May 15, 2011||2010–11||#26||11.85||3.46|
|8||September 25, 2011||May 13, 2012||2011–12||#37||10.60||2.74|
The show was the biggest success of the 2004–2005 television season, being well received by both critics and viewers. The pilot episode had 21.3 million viewers making it the best new drama for the year, the highest rated show of the week, and the best performance by a pilot for ABC, since Spin City in 1996.
Along with Lost and Grey's Anatomy, Desperate Housewives was credited to have turned around ABC's declining fortunes. Many critics agreed with Cherry's initial comparison to the popular black comedy film American Beauty, while its themes and appeal to female viewers were compared to those of the award winning TV show Sex and the City, and its mysteries were said to resemble those of David Lynch's classic TV series Twin Peaks. In its first review, USA Today proclaimed the show to be "refreshingly original, bracingly adult and thoroughly delightful" and naming it to be "sort of Knots Landing meets The Golden Girls by way of Twin Peaks".
Following the initial success of the show, the term "desperate housewives" became a cultural phenomenon. This warranted "real-life desperate housewives" features in TV shows, including The Dr. Phil Show, and in magazines. Among the more prominent names to declare themselves fans of the show were Oprah Winfrey, who also dedicated an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show to her visit at the film set; and the former First Lady of the United States, Laura Bush, who, in a comedic speech during a dinner with White House Correspondents' Association on April 30, 2005, stated, "Ladies and gentlemen, I am a desperate housewife", referring to the show.
The show ended up being the fourth most watched in the United States during the 2004–2005 season, with 23.7 million viewers each week. The first season finale was watched by 30.62 million American viewers becoming the most watched episode of the series.
For its second year, the show still maintained its ratings – with 22.2 million viewers, it reclaimed its position as the number four most watched show. The second season's premiere was watched by 28.4 million viewers. The episode drew in the second largest audience for the series in its history. However, several critics started to notice a declining quality of the show's script, and USA Today's Robert Bianco suggested that the part of the show getting "less good" was that showrunner Cherry had left much of the series writing in the hands of others. Midway through the season executive producer Michael Edenstein left the show due to conflicts with Cherry and in May 2006, just a couple of weeks prior to the second season finale, so did Tom Spezialy. After the end of the season, Cherry agreed that the second year's script had been weaker and also agreed that it had been a mistake to let go too much of the show. He now stated that he was back full-time, claiming that both he and the writing staff had learned from their mistakes.
The critics generally agreed on the improved quality for the third year, but the overall ratings fell notably from previous seasons. Due to complications from her pregnancy Marcia Cross was put on bed rest. After filming one episode from her own personal bedroom she was forced to take maternity leave with eight episodes of season three still remaining. It was predicted that the ratings would be down by over 25% since the premiere year. However, for the last three episodes of the season, the rating turned somewhat, and the season ended up with 17.5 million viewers, falling from number four to number ten on the list of most watched shows. While Cross's departure allowed for the much-underused Edie to have more story, fans noticed a decline in the stories during Cross's departure. Stories such as Lynette's emotional affair with restaurant manager Rick, proved unpopular. Furthermore, Susan's contrived triangle with Ian and Mike seemed tiring to many viewers, particularly in an episode where Susan is lost in the woods. Notable, however, was that the show's rating among viewers age 18–24 increased from the previous season.
For its fourth season, the series proved to have staying power. The series averaged 18.2 million viewers. Ratings peaked in Episode 9 where 20.6 million viewers tuned in to see the heavily marketed tornado episode. The show once again moved back up into the top 5 highest rated programs in the 2007–2008 season, being the #1 ABC drama and beating popular medical drama Grey's Anatomy after falling behind it for the first time in the third season. It also became for the first time the #1 scripted show, beating CSI. Although ratings were down for the fifth season, along with every single scripted series on television, Desperate Housewives was still the most watched scripted series on ABC, consistently beating the other ABC flagship shows, Lost and Grey's Anatomy, although the latter is still number one in the 18–49 demographic, followed by Housewives.
Similar to the fifth season, ratings were down for the sixth season because of heavy competition in many airings, but the show still managed to remain the second most watched scripted show on ABC and the eleventh most watched scripted show of all broadcast television. The series continued to hit lower ratings, because of competition like the 67th Golden Globe Awards, 2010 Grammy Awards, 2010 Winter Olympics, and the new CBS reality series Undercover Boss. Nevertheless, the sixth season managed to finish in the top twenty overall, both in total viewers and 18-49 demographic audiences. Among scripted shows, it still ranked inside the top 10, in both categories.
The seventh season premiered on September 26, 2010 and averaged 11.85 million viewers. The season saw new lows for the series reaching for the first time below 10 million viewers, and saw lows of 2.7 in the 18-49 demographic. For the first half of the season, ratings started off strong averaging 12.3 million viewers and 3.9 in the 18-49 demographic which is similar to the second half of the sixth season. However, ratings declined in the second half of the season, after two continuous episodes had to first compete against the 68th Golden Globe Awards and then the 2011 Grammy Awards. The show failed to recover back to viewer levels hit in the first half of the season, and continued to receive 9 - 10 million viewers and 2.7 - 3.1 in the 18-49 demographic. This was the first time in its history that Desperate Housewives would not place in the 20 most watched shows of the season, although it would place in the 20 most watched scripted shows.
Season 8 continued to see declines in the show's ratings. The season premiered to 9.93 million viewers and a 3.2 in the demo making it the least watched season premiere in the show's history. The season started off averaging ratings similar to those of the latter half of season 7, averaging 8–9 million viewers and between a 2.8 to 3.0 in the 18-49 demographic. However after the mid-season finale the ratings returned lower, hitting the 7 million viewer mark and a 2.2-2.5 in the demo. Season 8 also saw the lowest ratings in the show's eight-year run. Opposite the 2012 Grammy Awards, which featured a tribute to the recently deceased Whitney Houston, and the mid season premiere of The Walking Dead on AMC, the show fell to a 1.8 rating in adults 18-49 and 6.4 million viewers. However unlike season 7, the show's ratings slightly recovered after the series low and leveled around the 8 million viewer mark and a 2.6 in the demo. Despite the series lows, the season finale was able to go out on a season high in the ratings and the highest rated episode in over a year and a half, since March 2011 with "Searching". The series finale titled "Finishing the Hat" aired May 13, 2012 was viewed by 11.12 million viewers and a 3.2 in the demo. Despite the lows in the ratings the show managed to remain in the Top 25 watched shows in the 18-49 demographic, placing in at 25th. However the show dropped out of the Top 30 most watched shows in total viewers, coming in at 35th place. No other series has shown success in the timeslot since Housewives leaving the air in 2012.
In 2006, the American cable network Bravo launched their reality series, The Real Housewives of..., in the footsteps of the "real life desperate housewives" phenomenon. That program has taken place in areas such as Orange County, California, Atlanta, and two series within the New York-Tri-State Region, within the City itself and the New Jersey suburbs. According to a survey of twenty countries conducted in 2006 by Informa Telecoms and Media, Desperate Housewives was the third most viewed TV show in the world, after fellow American series CSI: Miami and Lost. During a fund raising auction for the British child charity ChildLine in December 2006, a walk-on part in Desperate Housewives had the highest bid, £17,000, beating Daniel Craig's James Bond tuxedo from Casino Royale.
In fall 2013, North Korea allegedly executed 80 people for watching banned South Korean soap operas, Desperate Housewives being the most common soap opera. Desperate Housewives was being secretly watched by mp3 players, hard drives, and DVD's.
Awards and nominations
For its premiere season, the show was awarded six Emmy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards and two Screen Actors Guild Awards. The nominations of all of the leading actresses except Eva Longoria for both Golden Globes and Emmys received some media interest. While Longoria seemingly wasn't bothered, stating for the press that "I'm new. I just arrived. I didn't expect at all to be in the minds of the Academy", Marc Cherry regarded them being left out as a "horrendous error". In the end, the Emmy went to Felicity Huffman, while Teri Hatcher received the Golden Globe, as well as a Screen Actors Guild award.
The show's second Golden Globe Award for its first year was for Best Musical or Comedy TV Series, while the other Emmys went to Kathryn Joosten for her guest role as Karen McCluskey (beating, among others, fellow cast member Lupe Ontiveros), Charles McDougall for his direction of the pilot episode, Danny Elfman's theme music, the picture editing of the pilot, and the casting of the series. The entire cast was awarded a Screen Actors Guild Award, and Nicollette Sheridan was nominated for a Supporting Actress Golden Globe.
In 2006, the show continued to receive several nominations. It was awarded with yet another Golden Globe for Best TV Musical or Comedy Series, and all the four leading women received Golden Globe nominations, although none of them won. The cast ensemble was awarded with another SAG Award, as was Felicity Huffman. Emmys nominations included, among others, guest actress Shirley Knight and supporting actress Alfre Woodard, although none of the resulted in an actual award. It was nominated for the Pioneer Award at the BAFTAs but lost to Doctor Who, which at the time was recently revamped.
The show did continue to be nominated in 2007 – Felicity Huffman was granted an Emmy nomination for the second time, and guest actresses Laurie Metcalf and Dixie Carter also received Emmy nominations. The show, along with actresses Marcia Cross and Felicity Huffman, received Golden Globe nominations, and Huffman and the cast ensemble were also nominated for SAGs. None of the Golden Globe, Emmy or SAG nominations resulted in any actual awards.
2008 yielded the least nominations with none at the Golden Globes and only the cast being nominated at the SAGs. The show was nominated for four Emmys, including acting nods towards Polly Bergen and Kathryn Joosten for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series. Joosten won the show's seventh Emmy and first since its debut year.
Nominations continued to decline in later years. Notable nominations included nods towards Beau Bridges and Kathryn Joosten in 2009 and 2010, respectively. Additionally, Brenda Strong received her first Emmy nomination in the Outstanding Voice-Over Performance in 2011, a notable feat for a category usually dominated by animated series. Strong and Joosten received Emmy nominations again in 2012 for the show's final season.
Other notable awards include the 2005 People's Choice Award for Favorite New Television Drama, the Future Classic Award at the 2005 TV Land Awards, the 2006 TP de Oro for Best Foreign Series, and the Golden Nymph at the 2007 Monte-Carlo TV Festival, among others.
Foreign productions and translations
On February 26, 2007, The Walt Disney Company announced that four South American versions of the show were about to begin production: one for Argentina, one for Colombia, one for Brazil and one for Ecuador. Later on, the Colombian and Ecuadorean productions merged, leaving three Latin American shows:
The Argentine version, called Amas de Casa Desesperadas, began being broadcast in 2006. The first year proved successful enough for a second season to begin production. The first season of the version for Colombia (RCN TV) and Ecuador (Teleamazonas), also titled Amas de Casa Desesperadas, began being broadcast in Ecuador on May 2007, and is broadcast five days a week. The Brazilian version, Donas de Casa Desesperadas began being broadcast on RedeTV! in August 2007. Its Turkish version called "Umutsuz Ev Kadınları" has been airing on Kanal D in Turkey since 2011.
In addition, a second US version is being developed for the Spanish television network Univision. Just as the two previous Spanish versions, it is to be named Amas de Casa Desesperadas, and the production began in July 2007.
On fall 2013, the Disney Media Distribution and the Nigerian television network, EbonyLife TV, announced that they were producing an African version of Desperate Housewives. The series is titled "Desperate Housewives Africa" and it is to premiere summer 2014 on EbonyLife TV.
In its first public release of online individual TV program rankings, The Nielsen Company announced that the series had 723,000 unique viewers in December 2008. Desperate Housewives was the seventh most-pirated television show of 2009.
Other media and merchandise
|DVD Name||Region 1||Region 2||Region 4||Region 5||No of discs||No of episodes|
|The Complete First Season||September 20, 2005||October 10, 2005||November 28, 2005||July 18, 2006||6 (Reg. 1, 2 and 4)
5 (Reg. 5)
|The Complete Second Season – The Extra Juicy Edition||August 30, 2006||November 13, 2006||October 4, 2006||June 28, 2007||7 (Reg. 2 and 4)
6 (Reg. 1 and 5)
|The Complete Seasons 1–2||November 13, 2006||October 24, 2006||13||47|
|The Complete Third Season – The Dirty Laundry Edition||September 4, 2007||November 5, 2007||October 31, 2007||April 12, 2011||6||23|
|The Complete Seasons 1–3||November 19, 2007||19||70|
|The Complete Fourth Season – Sizzling Secrets Edition||September 2, 2008||November 3, 2008||October 29, 2008||April 12, 2011||5||17|
|The Complete Seasons 1–4||November 3, 2008||24||87|
|The Complete Fifth Season – The Red Hot Edition||September 1, 2009||November 9, 2009||October 21, 2009||April 26, 2011||7, 6 (Reg. 5)||24|
|The Complete Seasons 1–5||November 9, 2009||31||111|
|The Complete Sixth Season – The All Mighty Edition||September 21, 2010||October 4, 2010||October 20, 2010||April 26, 2011||5 (Reg. 1)||23|
|The Complete Seasons 1–6||October 4, 2010||October 20, 2010||36 (Reg. 1)
37 (Reg. 4)
|The Complete Seventh Season – Wild, Wild Wisteria Edition||August 30, 2011||October 31, 2011||November 30, 2011||May 15, 2012||5||23|
|The Complete Seasons 1–7||October 31, 2011||41||157|
|The Complete Eighth and Final Season ||September 25, 2012||September 24, 2012||October 3, 2012||N/A||5 (Reg. 1)||23|
|The Complete Collection||September 25, 2012||September 24, 2012||45 (Reg. 1)||180|
In 2005, UK company Re:creation published Desperate Housewives Dirty Laundry Game, a board game based on season three of Desperate Housewives. Players attempt to guess their opponents' secrets by answering trivia questions, while keeping clues to their own secrets concealed.
2006 saw the release of two video games: Buena Vista Games released the sim computer game Desperate Housewives: The Game, featuring an original storyline spanning 12 episodes. The game is set on Wisteria Lane, but the player does not play as any of the housewives, although they frequently appear.
A couple of months later, Gameloft released a mobile game based on the series. "The inspiration for Gameloft's take on Desperate Housewives comes from the most unlikely place, too – the original Mario Party on the Nintendo 64."
Soundtrack and literature
In September 2005, Hollywood Records released a CD (distributed by Universal Music), Music from and Inspired by Desperate Housewives, featuring music inspired by the series, as well as sound clips taken from the first season of the show. The songs included have been described as promoting "girl power", and among the artists appearing – all being female – were LeAnn Rimes, Gloria Estefan and Shania Twain. Controversially, no originally composed music from the show is included on the CD.
Two books have been officially released within the Desperate Housewives franchise. In September 2005 ABC's sister company Hyperion Books released Desperate Housewives: Behind Closed Doors (ISBN 978-1-4013-0826-1), a companion to the first season of the show, written by the production team behind the series. One year later, in October 2006, Hyperion published The Desperate Housewives Cookbook – Juicy Dishes and Saucy Bits (ISBN 978-1-4013-0277-1). In addition, official wall calendars, featuring shots taken from the series, were published by Andrews McMeel Publishing for 2006, 2007 and 2008.
Four unauthorized books written from different points of view were released in 2006. Delicious Housewives, A Novel of Erotica, by International best-selling author Tamarias Tyree (ISBN 978-0-930865-79-5), from RSVP Press, is an erotic parody of the popular TV series featuring the housewives' sexual misadventures which eventually lead them to an appearance on the Jerry Springer Show ... Reading 'Desperate Housewives': Beyond the White Picket Fence (ISBN 978-1-84511-220-2), from I.B. Tauris, is an academic look at the show by film studies lecturers Janet McCabe and Kim Akassm, Welcome to Wisteria Lane: On America's Favorite Desperate Housewives (ISBN 978-1-932100-79-2), published by BenBella Books, consists of seventeen essays written from a feminist perspective, and in Chalice Press' Not-so-desperate: Fantasy, Fact And Faith on Wisteria Lane (ISBN 0-8272-2513-X) author Shawnthea Monroe is giving a Christian interpretation of the show. Also, following the "real life desperate housewives" phenomenon, several books have been released dealing with life strategies for contemporary women.
In December 2006, it was announced that the characters of Bree, Gabrielle, Edie, Susan and Lynette were to be made into 16 inches (41 cm) tall fashion dolls, produced by Madame Alexander. In 2007, they were released in a limited edition of 300 pieces each. A perfume was also released, named Forbidden Fruit.
Another Desperate Housewife commercials
In conjunction with season six, Marc Cherry was commissioned to write eight "mini-episodes" entitled Another Desperate Housewife. The episodes were written after the previous season's extensive product placement proved unpopular with the fans. The mini-episodes were written to advertise mobile phone company Sprint and involve just three characters. The two main characters are Stephanie (played by Rebecca Staab) and Lance (played by David Chisum) who have moved into the former house of Edie Britt after her death. The third character, Elsa, was Stephanie's friend. It is eventually revealed that Lance and Elsa have been having an affair. Stephanie finds out and tells Lance to break it off. Elsa suggests killing Stephanie, but Lance gets a text message indicating he's seeing another woman and a furious Elsa shoots him. In truth, Stephanie had sent the message herself. The final mini-episode has Elsa being arrested and Stephanie attracted to a handsome policeman at the scene. Each episode ends with a Mary Alice-like narration saying things such as "This is suspicion on the Now Network" or "This is betrayal on the Now Network."
Ask Desperate Housewives
For the sixth season of the series, ABC created "Ask Desperate Housewives" to promote their website abc.go.com. It was presented and sponsored by Sprint, and it was hosted by series creator, Marc Cherry. In each special, Marc Cherry and an actress/actor of the series would answer questions that fans submitted to abc.go.com.
Desperate Housewives, just like most shows, can be found on popular social media such Facebook, and Twitter. Desperate Housewives is the #2 most like ABC show on Facebook nearly reaching 12 million likes beating other popular ABC shows such as Modern Family, Once Upon A Time, Dancing with the Stars, and Lost. On Facebook, Housewives can be found under the title "Desperate Housewives" with a blue check mark next to it confirming the official page to loyal fans. On Twitter, Desperate Housewives has more than 200,000 followers. Desperate Housewives can be found under "desperateABC" with a blue check mark off to the side also confirming the official page. Desperate Housewives has it's official website, abc.go.com/desperatehousewives, or typing desperatehousewives.com will also take you to the page. You can read character bios, quiz yourself on your Desperate Housewives memory, or read episode descriptions. When Desperate Housewives was on the air the last five episodes would be available on the show's site or on the ABC Player App(know called, Watch ABC). Desperate Housewives is one of the few shows on ABC that haven't been removed from their site. Uasally when a show ends on ABC, ABC removes/deletes the shows website and replaces for new shows. But given that Desperate Housewives is known for giving ABC a boost in its ratings, ABC decided to keep the shows website along with other popular drama, Lost.
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