Desperate Housewives, ABC’s groundbreaking dramedy, came to a close Sunday night after eight breezily entertaining seasons full of gossip, backstabbing, friendships and frenemy-ships, and many, many instances of rigor mortis setting in. Here are five of Wisteria Lane’s most treasured snapshots – but do add your fondest memories in the comments below:
The mystery of Mary Alice, season 1, Oct. 3, 2004: The series hooked me right from its opener: Wisteria Street resident Mary Alice Williams (Brenda Strong), the show’s narrator, tells us in a soothing, almost sunny tone how one day she reached into the top of her closet, took down a revolver and shot herself dead. Even though the mystery of her suicide was eventually solved, Mary Alice has remained the voice of the show ever since, commenting with compassion and sometimes rather heavy irony on the adventures of Susan, Bree, Lynette and Gabrielle. I would have gone for a cheap stunt and had the occasional guest narrator – Joy Behar, for instance – but Mary Alice’s voice, even more than the tidy lawns and slickly painted houses, was always the real, unifying vision of Wisteria Lane.
Bree breaks down, season 1, May 22, 2005: This is probably the most moving scene in the whole series. The annoyingly perfect, emotionally pinched Bree (Marcia Cross) is at home polishing the silverware when she gets a call from her husband’s doctor at the hospital: Rex, who had a history of heart trouble, has passed away. (In part because a crazy pharmacist has been tinkering with his medicine – it’s a long story.) Bree responds as cheerfully and briskly as if she’d been told her car was ready at the shop. She finishes her polishing, puts away the silverware, sits down alone at the far end of the long, gleaming dining room table and then starts gasping with sobs.
The great leap forward, season 5 premiere, Sept. 28, 2008: This was one of the cleverest narrative tricks in primetime history. To freshen up sagging plotlines (and avoid making viewers watch many child actors grow bigger season by season), the story had jumped forward five years. Lynette was now the mother of two towering twin teenagers. Gabrielle, former model and clotheshorse, was startlingly frumpy and exhausted raising two girls, Juanita and Celia, who didn’t exist in season 4. Of course, Gaby soon got her groove back. I couldn’t have gotten through a whole season of star Eva Longoria with flat hair.
Edie Britt’s exit, season 5, March 22, 2009: The show should never have killed off neighborhood vamp Edie (Nicollette Sheridan), who always managed to have a lot more fun fooling around than the more proper housewives. But she was dispatched with a vicious, teasing humor worthy of the Final Destination movies. After being strangled almost to the point of unconsciousness by her crazy husband, Edie speeds off in her car, swerves into an electricity pole with enough force to down a wire onto the vehicle, steps out into a puddle and … tztztzzzaap!
Gabrielle’s conscience, season 8, May 6, 2012: Since this list is heavy on the show’s most dramatic twists, I’ll conclude with a recent moment typical of the show’s kinder sentimentality – one in which friendship prevails over all sorts of horrible choices and developments. Bree is on trial for the murder of Gaby’s abusive stepfather, although the murderer was really Gaby’s husband, Carlos. (Again: Long story.) But now Gaby, who has a charming way of dismissing all doubts with a wave of her manicured hands, faces the unpleasant reality that the prosecution has the upper hand in its case against Bree. (Because Bree had at one point written a suicide note that hinted at guilt. Another long story.) Gaby’s expression turns all clouded with doubt – in a soft, glamorous way – and it looks like she’ll now rally to the truth, and to her neighbor and friend. At any rate, that’s coming in the finale.
What were your favorite moments from eight seasons of Desperate Housewives? Sound off in the comments below!