”Desperate Housewives”: The bloom’s off the Wisteria
Before I sink my teeth into this week’s episode, I have to say that last week’s clip show was a great reminder of what innocents we all were when Desperate Housewives first aired. In the beginning, every detail seemed so fresh and amazing! I can remember yelping aloud when Susan got trapped naked outside her house, and I had to peek through the sleeve of a sweatshirt (which I was holding protectively up to my eyes) when Carlos came home early while John and Gabrielle were in bed together.
But now I’m jaded. When Sophie was inexplicably absent for the first third of the hour — and thank God for that — I found myself hoping Susan had killed her. No such luck, though at least Sophie’s role has been pruned back. But my point is that as we hurtle toward the season finale, I wish I still felt stunned by the show’s momentum.
Instead I’m sitting there with a checklist, crossing things off. There have always been so many loose ends that part of the show’s intrigue came simply from wondering how the writers would get out of all the corners they’d plotted themselves into. Now, they’re working overtime to fill in the holes. Tonight: Gabrielle realizes she’s pregnant. Check! Paul finds out why Edie and Susan rummaged through his living room. Check! Zach has a cigarette lighter and a murderous gleam in his eye. Check! (Not that I actually knew Zach had a cigarette lighter before this, but I did know he’d end up turning against Julie. And let me say right here that I will be extremely disappointed if Mike turns out to be Zach’s biological father. I feel dreadful about Zach — oh, that shot when he was carrying away the flowers he’d left for Susan! — but adorable Mike still doesn’t deserve a psycho for a son.)
Tonight’s was a solid, workmanlike episode, with some great details — Gabby’s puking into a showroom car, Lynette’s coaching the boys to draw pictures of their happy family, Susan’s hiring that ominous detective who last worked for Paul — but there was never any point at which fear or embarrassment forced me to bury my face in a sweatshirt. And I missed those moments.
Another reason the bloom was off the wisteria this week: I’ve finally read the much-publicized Vanity Fair article about the minefield the DH cast appears to have become. Even assuming that the article was exaggerated — and that all the actresses love one another more than ever — isn’t it fair to say that the main characters are interacting less and less on the show? Except for Edie, each housewife seems increasingly to be walled up within her own family. What ever happened to their poker games?
Of course there’s always the consolation of catching one of the characters in a misstep. Paul attempts to explain the Mary Alice/Angela confusion by telling Susan that ”Angela” changed her name to Mary Alice in her teens. We already know that this doesn’t fit with Felicia Tilman’s having worked with ”Angela” years later. Can we assume that Susan will remember the specifics of the lie, or is it enough that the story’s general lameness has aroused her suspicion?
And there’s always the consolation of spotting a nice broad DH double-entendre. ”I brought you a hot dog,” Zach says hopefully to Julie at the Solises’ party. Julie having indicated that she is not interested in his hot dog, Zach blunders on, ”They’ve got a croquet set; wanna go hit some balls?” Another line that cracked me up, for some reason: When Susan’s kitchen explodes, she wails, ”Oh! It’s a big fire!”
It’s always pleasant when one of the Wisteria Lane-ites behaves inexplicably well. Tonight, both Carlos and Tom have unexpected moments of grace: Carlos in his goodbye speech to his neighbors, and Tom when he snaps at Lynette, ”It seems you’re not going to be happy until you drive me out of this marriage just to prove that you’re right!” Why does Lynette react as if he’s thrown sewage in her face? He’s right!
It’s also always nice when one of the characters behaves, well, inexplicably. Two weeks ago, Bree was worried that Andrew’s being gay would keep him out of heaven. Now, in order to spite Rex, she’s jauntily embarking on adultery with ol’ stalker-y George. You’d think even Bree would notice the inconsistency here — but then, she loves herself a lot more than she loves her son.
Speaking of stalkers, I’m not sure a one-hour show can continue to sustain two of them. We know that one of the main characters is on the way out in the season finale. It can’t be a housewife. It probably won’t be Sophie, alas. But wouldn’t Zach or George be a good second choice?
Did this episode answer all your questions? What do you expect of the season’s remaining episodes?