Thursday, May 10, 2012

‘Desperate Housewives’ is bowing out gracefully

A lot of people won’t admit this – neither fans nor haters, that is -- but ABC’s ‘Desperate Housewives’ is ending at the right time.

Things could have been different.

The network could have picked up the show for another season (or even two) and let it limp to a really bad ending. If the haters have their druthers, it would have been cancelled after the first episode – but that’s a whole other story.

Instead, show creator Marc Cherry announced last year that this would be his show’s swan song – a move that created an uproar among fans and a sigh of relief among non-fans.

Why you may ask?

Well, there are just as many people out there that hate the show as love it.

Me? I’m on the fence.

I remember tuning in back in 2004 and really enjoying the soapy nature of the program during its premiere season. Sure, some of the acting wasn’t great and a lot of the writing was actually pretty bad – but the show was a sudsy wonder.

I lost interest sometime after that, tuning in occasionally to see what the main four-some were up to. The problem was, even though I wasn’t a regular watcher, I was never lost when I dropped by for a visit. A show that had as many storylines going on as ‘Desperate Housewives’ should have been able to stump me occasionally – but that never really happened.

The show – and the characters – were simply predictable.

You can always count on Susan doing something goofy, Gabby doing something selfish, Bree crossing the line of sanity without realizing it and Lynette bossing Tom around. Sure, the four women showed some growth occasionally, but it was never sustained growth.

Over the years, the show started another disturbing trend. It’s called dropped stories.

Take Mike, for example. Has anyone even told his biological son that he died earlier this season? Or has Gabby heard anything from her biological daughter (or mentioned her for that matter) since the family fled from immigration?

I admire a show that realizes something isn’t working and drops it really quickly. However, the way ‘Desperate Housewives’ did it was more jarring than anything else.

Cherry often prided himself on killing characters off – and reportedly Teri Hatcher’s Susan was supposed to die a few seasons ago but ultimately didn’t – but after awhile those deaths became trite instead of shocking. Mike’s death by gang violence earlier this season is an example of this. At this point, why not just give Mike and Susan their happy ending?

‘Desperate Housewives’ was never a quality show that had fans debating the moral implications of some character’s actions (like ‘The Sopranos’) or the meaning of life itself (like ‘Lost’) but it did manage to pique the interest of a legion of devoted fans.

And, no matter how much entertainment elitists like myself hate to admit it, the fans of ‘Desperate Housewives’ were just as devoted to their show as we were to ‘Lost,’ ‘Battlestar Gallactica’ and ‘The Walking Dead.’

In the end, I’m not sure what the ‘Desperate Housewives’ legacy will be.

I mean, it certainly won’t be a show held up and lauded as a classic 20 years from now and I know the finale won’t be debated, scrutinized and ultimately torn apart like other high profile shows that have ended in recent years. I also don’t think it will be completely disregarded in the American zeitgeist either.

‘Desperate Housewives’ is one of those shows that made a lot of mistakes, but still managed to be entertaining. I think everyone can agree that the show’s impressive eight-year run is a testament to something.

I just don’t know what that something is.

The final ‘Desperate Housewives’ episode is a two-hour event that begins at 9:01 p.m. Sunday.

What do you think? What will the ‘Desperate Housewives’ legacy ultimately be?


Blogger Cindy L said...

Great post! I totally agree. I enjoyed the first campy season, but it seemed to get more ridiculous after that. Still, I got hooked, and am trying to figure out why. If nothing else, maybe the sense of community on Wisteria Lane is something we secretly long for. How many of us get together with our neighbors, or forge such tight friendships with them? Just a thought.

May 11, 2012 at 4:41 AM 

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