We’re just three episodes into the current season of Desperate Housewives, but it’s already apparent that adding the luminous Vanessa Williams to the cast was the smartest move producers have made in many a season. Last night, she was the highlight of the show—her scenes with Marcia Cross were priceless for the sound bites alone. “Hey there, I’m ready to party!” Cross’ Bree said in her spritely fashion when Williams’ Renee arrived for a night of “stud hunting” at the club. Renee’s retort to her fellow divorcee-to-be was short, to-the-point, and frankly, harkened back to Williams’ four seasons as Wilhelmina Slater on Ugly Betty: “Are you?” she asked, with just the perfect level of snideness. “Because you look like you’re ready to tour the Reagan Library!” Ouch!
Renee followed that up minutes later with another zinger, as she dug through Bree’s closet for an appropriate going-out ensemble: “I’ve never seen so many sweater sets—are you sure this is a closet and not a portal to the 1950s?” Even without the trademark Williams smirk, tell me: How could that line not make you smile?
Besides being entertaining on its own merits, the Renee-Bree pairing was welcome because it removed the newest Housewife from the Tom-Lynette equation. Last week, I asked that Renee get some time with the rest of the Wisteria Lane ladies and—voila!—there we go. (An EW.com TV Recap is clearly a powerful thing!) At the risk of sounding ageist, though, I do have one complaint about Bree and Renee’s “stud hunting”: Would these sophisticated ladies of a certain age really search for love — or even companionship — at a packed dance club with pulsing music and crowds of twentysomethings? The details seemed a little incongruous. Next time, how about an upscale martini bar? Then again, maybe the writers were conscious of the imbalance, too, because they managed to reference it — while seamlessly cross-promoting ABC programming! — with another great zinger from Renee: “Clearly everyone hooked up early so they could be home in time for Nightline.”
The best parts of the Bree-Renee pairing, however, may still be yet to come, considering that Renee took Bree’s love interest Keith (the delightful, ab-tastic Brian Austin Green) home from the club. “Do you think I should play the I-hate-going-into-a-dark-house-alone card? Or the more blatant I’m-not-wearing-underwear? Because I’m not,” Renee asked a flabbergasted and clearly jealous Bree, who, in an attempt to snag Keith herself, had just emerged from the ladies room in a revamped, boobalicious version of her black dress. Just after Renee got home with her catch, though, Bree smashed her own sprinkler system (a delightful bit of desperation) and called Keith for emergency repairs. In Renee’s mind, that move by Bree was an act of treason—and more than enough reason to start a war with her neighbor. “Nobody steals a man out of my bed,” she threatened Bree. “But you know what? I’ve been looking for a new hobby, and taking you down is as good as any.” Game on!
I will posture, however, that if this showdown continues like it’s started—simply as a battle of words—it won’t be enough. Whether or not Brian Austin Green’s Keith is worth it, I’d love to see Renee and Bree really go at each other. Remember in the old days when houses on Wisteria Lane used to get burnt to the ground in the name of romantic rivalry? Or when people used to get hit by cars? Let’s take this to that level—or at least to a catfight that could give Krystle-vs.-Alexis on Dynasty a run for its money. Or maybe a gossip campaign could ensue between the two, dividing the street? Pick your sides, ladies! I need the stakes here to be ratcheted up a bit, but for now, I’m pleased with what’s happening.
NEXT: One of the more profound story arcs in Desperate Housewives history.