Desperate Housewives was an ABC network comedy-drama\mystery series created by Marc Cherry which aired from October 3, 2004 to May 13, 2012, lasting for 8 seasons & 180 episodes.
Set on Wisteria Lane, a street in the fictional town of Fairview in the fictional Eagle State, the series followed the lives of a group of women as seen through the eyes of Mary Alice Young, their late friend and neighbor who committed suicide in the pilot episode.
The show's 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 five-year passage of time as well as flashbacks ranging from the 1980s to the 2020s).
The women worked through domestic struggles and family life while facing the secrets, crimes and mysteries hidden behind the doors of their (on the surface) beautiful and seemingly perfect suburban neighborhood.
The show's first season introduced 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's central mystery was about 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. 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.
In the show's 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, Kayla 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 a 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's main mystery revolved 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 jumps five years after the previous season with some flashbacks to events which happened between the two periods.
The mystery of the season 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' 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's 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's 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 nemesis 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' mother, consequently ending the friendship between the Solis family and Bree.
Due to financial problems, Susan and her family have moved off the lane & she is forced to earn money by 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's main mystery of the season is the death of Gabrielle's perverted stepfather Alejandro Perez (Tony Plana) at Carlos' 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 first 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 & 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 & 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 a conclusion, there was a wedding, a birth, a death and the future of the four main housewives was revealed.
- Teri Hatcher as Susan Mayer
- Marcia Cross as Bree Van De Kamp
- Felicity Huffman as Lynette Scavo
- Eva Longoria as Gabrielle Solis
- Brenda Strong as Mary Alice Young (narrator)
- Jamie Denton as Mike Delfino
- Steven Culp as Rex Van De Kamp
- Nicolette Sheridan as Edie Britt
- Mark Moses as Paul Young
- Ricardo Antonio Chavira as Carlos Solis
- Cody Kasch as Zack Young
- Andrea Bowen as Julie Mayer
- Jesse Metcalfe as John Rowland
- Christine Estabrook as Mrs. Huber
- Alfre Woodard as Betty Applewhite
- Doug Savant as Tom Scavo
- Richard Burgi as Karl Mayer
- Kyle McLachlan as Orson Hodge
- Dana Delany as Katherine Mayfair
- Neal McDonough as Dave Williams
- Drea de Matteo as Angie Bolen
- Maiara Walsh as Ana Solis
- Kathryn Joosten as Karen McCluskey
- Vanessa Williams as Renee Perry
- Kevin Rahm as Lee McDermott
- Tuc Watkins as Bob Hunter
- Jonathan Cake as Chuck Vance
- Charles Mesure as Ben Faulkner
- Madison De La Garza as Juanita Solis
Recurring\Also Starring Cast
- Shawn Pyfrom as Andrew Van De Kamp
- Joy Lauren as Danielle Van De Kamp
- Mehcad Brooks as Matthew Applewhite
- Brent Kinsman as Preston Scavo #1
- Shane Kinsman as Porter Scavo #1
- Zane Huett as Parker Scavo #1
- Roger Bart as George Williams
- Page Kennedy as Caleb Applewhite #1
- NaShawn Kerse as Caleb Applewhite #2
- Josh Henderson as Austin McCann
- Lyndsy Fonseca as Dylan Mayfair
- Rachel Fox as Kayla Scavo
- Charlie Carver as Porter Scavo #1
- Max Carver as Preston Scavo #2
- Joshua Logan Moore as Parker Scavo #2
- Kendall Applegate as Penny Scavo #1
- Darcy Rose Byrnes as Penny Scavo #2
- Jeffrey Nordling as Nick Bolen
- Beau Mirchoff as Danny Bolen
- Mason Vale Cotton as M.J. Delfino
"Desperate Housewives" was the biggest success of the 2004–2005 television season, being well received by both critics and viewers. The show's 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).
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.
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 the series' second year, "Desperate Housewives" 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' departure allowed for the much-underused Edie to have more story, fans noticed a decline in the stories during Cross' departure.
Stories such as Lynette's emotional affair with restaurant manager Rick, proved unpopular. Furthermore, Susan's contrived triangle with Ian and Mike seemed tiresome 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. It once again moved back 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.
The series also became for the first time the #1 scripted show, beating CSI. Although ratings were down for the fifth season, along with every 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, the 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 in 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 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 contiguous episodes had to compete against the 68th Golden Globe Awards and then the 2011 Grammy Awards.
The show failed to recover 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.
The eighth season of "Desperate Housewives" continued to see declines in its ratings and 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 began with 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, but 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 of "Desperate Housewives" 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 the episode "Searching".
The series finale of "Desperate Housewives" 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, it managed to remain in the Top 25 watched shows in the 18-49 demographic, placing 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 "Desperate Housewives" left the air in 2012.
For its premiere season, "Desperate Housewives" was awarded six Primetime 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 the Golden Globe Award and Primetime Emmy Award 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 Primetime Emmy Award went to Felicity Huffman while Teri Hatcher received the Golden Globe Award as well as the Screen Actors Guild Award.
The show's second Golden Globe Award for its first year was for "Best TV Series – Musical or Comedy" while the other Primetime Emmy Awards 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 the Screen Actors Guild Award and Nicollette Sheridan was nominated the Golden Globe Award for "Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries, or Television Film."
In 2006, the show continued to receive several nominations. It was awarded with yet another Golden Globe Award for "Best TV Series – Musical or Comedy" and all the four leading women received Golden Globe Award nominations although none of them won.
The cast ensemble was awarded with another Screen Actors Guild Award as was Felicity Huffman. Primetime Emmy Award nominations included (among other), 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 Primetime Emmy Award nomination for the second time, and guest actresses Laurie Metcalf and Dixie Carter also received Primetime Emmy Award nominations.
The show (along with actresses Marcia Cross and Felicity Huffman) received Golden Globe Award nominations & Huffman and the cast ensemble were also nominated for the Screen Actors Guild.
None of the Primetime Emmy Award, Golden Globe Award or Screen Actors Guild Award nominations resulted in any actual awards.
The year 2008 yielded the least nominations with none at the Golden Globe Awards and only the cast being nominated at the Screen Actors Guild Award.
The show was nominated for four Primetime Emmy Awards, including acting nods towards Polly Bergen and Kathryn Joosten for "Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series" Joosten won the show's seventh Primetime Emmy Award 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 Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance in 2011, a notable feat for a category usually dominated by animated series.
Also in 2011, Vanessa L. Williams won an NAACP Image Award for "Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series" and a Satellite Award for "Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television".
Strong and Joosten received Primetime Emmy Award nominations again in 2012 and Williams won an NAACP Image Award as "Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series" for the show's eighth and 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.