On ''Desperate Housewives,'' Gabrielle and Bree are losing their battles for their husbands' hearts and minds, so they pull out the weapons of mass distraction -- lingerie

By Jeremy Helligar
Updated November 06, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST
Eva Longoria
Credit: Desperate Housewives: Bob D'Amico

Desperate Housewives

”Desperate Housewives”: Gabrielle fights back

Sex as a weapon. What a novel idea! So Juanita tries to get Carlos to fire the maid. But how can she hope to triumph over her daughter-in-law purring sexy come-ons in skimpy lingerie? “The maid stays,” Carlos says to his mom after being seduced by his cunning wife, declaring Gabrielle the victor in the battle over whether she’d have to cook and clean like all the other desperate housewives on Wisteria Lane.

Which makes one wonder, what’s so desperate about Gabrielle anyway? Is it that she’s desperate for sex? Well, aren’t they all? Except perhaps for Lynette, who’s too busy striving for supermom status while secretly loathing her insensitive hubby (more on her later). The interesting thing about Gabrielle is that, while sex never seems to be far from her mind, she also seems somewhat indifferent to whether or not she actually gets it. Come to think of it, that’s probably what makes her so irresistible to both her husband and her teenage lover.

Oh, but the things she could no doubt teach Bree, who couldn’t quite pull off her own lingerie show. Rex revealed that he’s dissatisfied with his and Bree’s sex life. He thinks her mind is elsewhere when they’re making love. Well, hello! Whose mind doesn’t wander now and then between foreplay and that special moment? Maybe he was just using that as an excuse, hoping to score the closest thing to a threesome that he’ll ever get. (They should consider hiring Gabrielle as the sexual surrogate — she obviously knows what she’s doing, and if anyone can watch and coach as a disinterested third party, it would certainly be her.) And what’s his big secret? Hey, what if he and Mary Alice were having an affair, and Mary Alice’s husband, Paul, offed her when he found out? Stranger things have happened . . . on this show.

Watching the latest episode, I realized something surprising — beside the fact that there might be more to Rex than meets the eye. For the past month or so, I’ve actually been rooting for the bad girl. I’ve been siding with a cheater, praying that she gets away with it. I’ve hated anyone — her husband, her mother-in-law, and, for a moment, even Bree’s allegedly abstaining daughter — who gets in her way. Seeing Gabrielle come up with new ways to outfox Juanita has made what could easily have been a one-note story line far more interesting than expected. By now, her ploys seem less like a means to steal a few moments with John than a fun game of one-upwomanship.

Speaking of woman vs. woman, it was nice to see Felicity Huffman, possibly the most accomplished actress of the bunch — if one of them gets a Golden Globe nod, my money’s on her — finally get some good scenes. For a moment, I was expecting a good Dynasty-style catfight. Thank you, Sharon Lawrence. Finally, Lynette has a foil of her own, and it helps to prop up her droopy story line. Note to producers: Ditch Edie and sign Lawrence up pronto for a recurring role.

What do you think? Are you rooting for Gabrielle or Juanita? And what is Rex hiding?

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Desperate Housewives

Eva Longoria Parker, Teri Hatcher, Marcia Cross, and Felicity Huffman star in the soap set on the dangerous Wisteria Lane

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