A guilty pleasure from the very first episode, Desperate Housewives’ quality has been somewhat dwindling ever since the end of the fourth season, when the writers misguidedly jumped the storyline five years into the future.
Whereas seasons one to four were full of what makes the series so great; humour, scandalous storylines and great heart, five paled in comparison and delivered a near awful season, turning the occasionally gripping show into background fodder at best. For the most part, Season six was an improvement. The mystery was interestingly drip-fed and no way near as obvious as the season five revenge debacle concerning Mike and Edie Britt’s psychotic husband Dave. Also, the storylines were watchable and performances back on form, with Felicity Huffman’s portrayal of Lynette Scavo still being the best housewife on Wisteria Lane.
The season wasn’t without its flaws however, the gimmicky ‘disaster’ episode (concerning a renegade jumbo jet crashing onto the lane and dispensing many lives) half way through was laughable at best, guest stars like Julie Benz playing a lesbian stripper and English starlet John Barrowman as psychopathic terrorist Charles Logan were overused and largely unnecessary. The former addition to the cast acted only as a catalyst to wrap up Katherine Mayfair’s character in the most ridiculously arbitrary way, presumably because they had run out of ideas for her, which was a shame because Katherine had been a highlight since her fiery debut in season four and her presence will be missed. Also, the sub-mystery regarding the secretive ‘Fairview Strangler’ which ran throughout had zero suspense and, come the eventual unveiling, was just boring and merely a diversionary tactic to fill in the gaps. Nevertheless, the shows sixth season was an indication of a return to the shows glory days, leaving the pathway clear for the writers to rewrite their previous wrongs.
As with every season, a lot is riding on the upcoming seventh season to deliver more entertaining storylines and also to bring something new to the table. It doesn’t take a genius to know that the predominant problem with Desperate Housewives as a whole is that it has a lazy tendency to borrow, repeat and reuse soapy clichés and storylines from previous seasons, yet relocate them to other characters and situations. It is repetitive and gives the show an unwanted predictability which renders most of the mysteries passive and easy to figure out before their over the top dénouement. In my opinion, the mysteries are the reason for the shows increasing downfall. They usually contain a downtrodden woman on the run from a menacing ex husband and a dangerous secret, or a devious man plotting to find justice for a previous predicament. Either the writers need to come up with something new and gripping (as with season one) or banish the concept altogether, they lend next to nothing to the season’s overall arc and merely distract attention from the core four protagonists, the main reason audiences watch the show in the first place.
Nevertheless, season seven has plenty of material left over from season six’s tepid finale to build upon; Lynette finally gave birth to a baby girl, her fifth child and second daughter. She gave birth whilst in the clutches of the ‘Fairview strangler’, who was revealed to be fragile local boy Eddie who suffered from an easily-flared temper and some serious mother issues. Fortunately, Eddie gave up his murderous spree and gave himself up in typical DH fashion (where the writers conveniently wrap up characters and storylines just in time for the season finale).
After finally being part of a mystery and in turn saving the day, Gabby was left with minimal material to carry over to the new season, although the revelation from a close friend could have serious repercussions for the future of their relationship. Susan and Mike, still suffering from his financial woes, upped sticks, put their house up for rent and were forced to move off the lane much to the sympathies of their nearest and dearest. And finally, having given into blackmail and selling her business to scheming stepson Sam, Bree has to face life as a single woman again following Orson’s decision to end their patchy marriage, accusing her of hypocrisy and maltreatment when it came to deciding between her husband and her children. Furthermore, a hospital hiccup revealed that one of the ladies’ children may not actually belong to them, and the new tenant of Susan’s house turned out to be none other than Paul Young, the show’s original villain who did whatever he could to uncover the mystery behind his wife’s suicide all those years ago.
The arrival of Paul Young is a strong sign of the hopeful high quality of the seventh season, as it has been confirmed that his nemesis, Felicia Tilman, who went into hiding at the end of season two after framing him for murder, will finally re-appear, uprooting season ones tense finale. Felicia is a great character brought to life by Harriet Samson Harris who lends her a creepy, vindictive streak and gave viewers a character viewers loved to hate.
A new series of DH wouldn’t be the same without new characters, and the most famous addition this time round is actress Vanessa Williams who joins the cast as an old friend of Lynette’s. Best known for her role as Wilhelmina Slater in Ugly Betty, Williams will hopefully be a successful newcomer whose talents aren’t wasted like some actresses who have made appearances on the show before (Frances Conroy in season five, for example).
For the first time in some while I am most looking forward to Bree’s storylines. It can easily be seen that Marcia Cross’s talents have been somewhat wasted in the latter seasons, with her character becoming a shadow of her fiery, conservative persona played to perfection in season one. Bree has lost the much needed bite that made her so watchable and hopefully her storylines will rein back those acidic yet hilarious traits, and it’d be interesting to see her without a male counterpart for a change.
With the news that creator Marc Cherry has plans for an eighth and ninth season, there is hopefully still more life in this show and hopefully they can pull some new tricks out of the hat to keep the viewers watching and keep the show fresh. Okay, it’s never going to be the most watched show in America anymore; it’s alienated too many viewers for that to happen, but I personally will still watch it, only because I have invested so much time and affection in these characters. Cherry himself has said he will be scaling down his influence on the show from now on to focus on other projects which in my opinion is a blessing as the show needs some fresh blood and a new approach as it is running the risk of becoming stale rather quickly. If they can return season seven back to its roots, then it will be a relief, if not, then it will continue to be as mediocre as it has been and I will always enjoy it for what it is, the guiltiest of pleasures.