EW visits Wisteria Lane -- Secrets are spilled as we peek into the homes on ''Desperate Housewives''
America’s favorite housewives go through lovers, addictions, and even neighbors at an alarming rate, but one thing remains constant: the pastel pleasures of Wisteria Lane. ”The street is very much a character,” says creator-exec producer Marc Cherry. As such, it has its share of dark secrets (remember Andrew’s hit-and-run?), public meltdowns (see: Susan’s wedding-gown sprint), and cosmetic enhancements. Indeed, remodeling this hodgepodge of famous TV homes on L.A.’s Universal Studios lot (everything from The Munsters to Providence filmed here) required silk leaves and flower augmentations, lush landscaping, and lots of Whisper White paint for the trim. ”There’s a feeling of there’s something off here, ” production designer Thomas A. Walsh says. Adds Cherry: ”It’s not quite like real life. We built an idealized neighborhood.” Here, an inside look at the street that’s like nothing in your subdivision.
That backyard with the hot tub? It’s actually in Toluca Lake, three miles from the set, so any scene taking place there requires a trip off campus. Walsh’s compromise? ”We shot photographic backdrops so you see it out the window.”
The more-often-seen-than-heard elderly neighbor lives in what’s called the Delta House (based on the one in Animal House but used only in the short-lived TV spin-off). It was newly landscaped and repainted for Housewives; even so, it doesn’t get too many close-ups. ”It’s like getting close to an aging movie star,” says Walsh. ”It’s just sad.”
The Munsters mansion got a makeover before the creepy family moved in, and ”it became the prettiest house,” Cherry says. And it’s got the only basement we’ve seen — though that’s actually on a soundstage.
Like the Solises and the Applewhites, she’s got a working first-floor interior, a rarity for TV. (Upstairs scenes are shot on a soundstage.) But ”the roofs and foundations aren’t so good, so they’re a headache in terms of rain leakage and creaking floors,” says Walsh. Still, it’s one of Cherry’s favorites: ”There’s something about that yellow I find soothing.”
Fittingly, the house is ”a complete wreck — it’s standing by a thread,” Walsh says. All interiors are shot on a soundstage, and the twins don’t even get a separate room. ”We just take the master bedroom and re-dress it. Hopefully, for season 3 they’ll get their own.”
Scenes like Lynette’s soccer-field sobfest were shot on location until the old Victorian mansion standing on this grassy island was leveled and the area was landscaped for season 2 to create what they call ”the nanny park.”
The town tramp’s dwelling was newly built after Susan torched the first one (which was just a shell singed by controlled flames). As for the decor? ”It’s easy to go trashy,” Walsh says, ”but she’s more complicated than that.”
She has to babysit the Scavo brats and live in this fixer-upper? No wonder she’s cranky. ”That’s a house I wish we’d burned down,” says Walsh. ”When we started trimming the trees, we were worried it was going to fall down. The trees were holding it up. Though I guess she is a widow on a pension.” At least she gets all the good one-liners.