Eight seasons. For eight consecutive years, the adventures of Susan, Bree, Gaby, Lynette and Edie, the five heroines of Desperate Housewives, will have fascinated millions of viewers around the world. Each will have known the best and the worst. Hear: marriages, thwarted love affairs, divorce, quarrels and family worries, so many rather classic upheavals in life, within which much more improbable “events” will have slipped, such as a hostage-taking in a supermarket, a tornado sweeping away the houses of Wisteria Lane, even the crash of a plane in the middle of a block party.
Nothing but very “banal” for a series largely mixed with soap opera where dramas must above all arouse the loyalty of viewers. But Season 4’s cliffhanger takes it one step further and breaks away from the genre’s inherent rule of temporal unity to project into six final sequences “five years later.” With obviously the key to real upheavals in the lives of our heroines.
In 2003, when the ABC channel announced its new series, Desperate Housewives, its producer Marc Cherry described it as a mix between the soap West Coast, the Sam Mendes film American Beauty and the series Twin Peaks by David Lynch… A strange cocktail that , the following year, will open to viewers the doors of the intimate life of five suburbanites, very poor, in the very first episode, after the mysterious suicide of their neighbor and friend Mary Alice (Brenda Strong). The strength of this prime time series, at first glance yet quite banal, lies in its way of mixing soap, humor and thriller with delight. A bit as if Jessica Fletcher from the Arabesque series invited herself to Santa Barbara.
A five-year leap forward
Very quickly, the public became attached to these heroines, interpreted, moreover, by actresses he adored in the 1990s – Marcia Cross in Melrose Place, Nicollette Sheridan in West Coast, Eva Longoria in Les Feux de l. love and especially Teri Hatcher in the adventures of Lois and Clark. And to follow assiduously their hectic daily life of more or less desperate housewives told as in a soap.
Except that, for the end of season 4, in 2008, the writers decide to give a boost to the plots of the series, and knife to the sacrosanct rule of the unit of time dear to soaps. And behold, the last two minutes of episode 17, titled “Free,” take viewers a five-year leap forward (a flashforward as opposed to the more traditional flashback). The fates of Bree, Susan, Gaby, Lynette and the most recent of the “desperate housewives”, the annoying Katherine Mayfair, who has just been arrested for the murder of her violent ex-husband, rock the time of six small sequences .
Thus, we discover a millionaire Bree, at the head of her own company (we will later learn that she works hand in hand with her former rival Katherine). Lynette, she is confronted with the “small arrangements with the law” of her terrible twins, Preston and Porter, become teenagers. But the most intriguing surprises concern Gaby and Susan. The first has lost all its glamor and here she is, a mother overtaken by two turbulent and plump little girls. As for Susan, left in the arms of her plumber Mike (James Denton), we find her languidly kissing another man with whom she seems to have the perfect love …
End of the hustle and bustle
The process is judicious. First, because it allows you to get out of the grind of classic soap and completely reshuffles the cards, blowing a welcome wind of novelty on the neighbors of Wisteria Lane. He also avoids ignoring Gaby’s pregnancy (when we come out of Bree’s “false” pregnancy), to give a new sentimental turn to Susan’s life, whose marital happiness could have condemned the character to a very monotonous destiny. Better, it offers the opportunity to screenwriters to construct a new mystery whose key lies in the past five years, and which will have tragic consequences on the sulphurous Edie.
The production had the good idea not to wait for the public to tire of the soap opera before making such a crucial decision. On the contrary, the ratings of Season 4 exceeded those of the previous one and pushed it up from 10th to 6th place in the most watched series. Even the critics are full of praise for the various plots of the last 17 episodes which have evoked the disease via Lynette’s cancer, the handicap with blindness of Carlos (Ricardo Chavira) or the violence against women via Katherine Mayfair, whose integration into the series seems to have gone smoothly. Driven by this success, the series can take risks and a little of speed.
However, on the set, the atmosphere is not good between the actresses. And Teri Hatcher is more and more lonely. Producer Marc Cherry is a bit cold with Nicollette Sheridan, whom he accuses of not learning her lyrics. A slap sent to his actress later, Edie’s fate will be sealed in season 5 … The audiences will also begin to give up.