For the first time in years, ­Desperate Housewives is captivating America again — for reasons its creator and cast can’t be happy about. Former star Nicollette ­Sheridan sued Touchstone Television for wrongful termination after the show’s creator Marc Cherry killed off Sheridan’s man-eating alter ego, Edie Britt, in spring 2009. The details were scandalous — for instance, Cherry testified that Sheridan once called costar Teri Hatcher “the meanest woman in the world” — and the juicy, three-week trial culminated in a verdict reminiscent of Housewives’ famous cliff-hangers: A judge declared a mistrial due to a hung jury.

The publicity around the trial is a fitting coda for the eight-year-old ABC dramedy, which will finally sign off with a two-hour finale on May 13 at 9 p.m. To commemorate the end of this ­pioneering series (and in light of the show’s recent return to newsy relevance), EW decided to put the ladies of Wisteria Lane — klutzy divorcée Susan Mayer (Hatcher), frazzled mom Lynette Scavo (Felicity Huffman), WASPy homemaker Bree Van de Kamp (Marcia Cross), and suburban sexpot Gabrielle Solis (Eva Longoria) — on the cover of EW one last time. We conducted two dozen interviews with the cast, crew, and writers, who recall Housewives’ provocative premise, its controversial story lines and effect on the TV industry, and one very gnarly Vanity Fair photo shoot.

The chats with major Desperate players reaped delicious behind-the-scenes details from the series: On-screen husband Doug Savant blames the brouhaha over the much talked-about Vanity Fair cover on an “inhospitable” environment created by the production team at the photo shoot; Cross admitted that “people thought for a long time that I was the bitch” of the show; James Denton — whose character Mike Delfino was killed off the show on March 11 — told us about how much of a “bummer” the Sheridan lawsuit was and that she was “fun to work with”; Huffman admitted to being such a fan of her on-screen husband, played by Savant, that she offered to pay part of his salary so he wouldn’t make less money in the show’s final season; and all the ladies shared their favorite moments from the series — for Hatcher it was being “naked in the bushes” and for Longoria it was mowing the Solis’ lawn in the pilot while wearing heels. “Most of my favorite memories about the show have to do with sitting in my trailer with Marcia or Felicity,” Longoria continued, “and talking about life.”

For all of that and more about Desperate Housewives pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly on stands March 23. Also, remember to follow @EW on Twitter.

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