Template:Infobox television Desperate Housewives is an American television series, created by Marc Cherry, that began airing on ABC in 2004, in HDTV. Set on Wisteria Lane in the fictional town of Fairview, the series tracks the lives of six housewives, following their domestic struggles while several mysteries unfold in the background. The tone and style of the series combine elements of drama, comedy, mystery, soap opera and satire.
Cherry initially pitched the series to HBO, CBS, NBC, Fox, Showtime, and Lifetime, but all turned him down. The series' writing was strong enough that it rocketed to the top of the ratings from the premiere episode, and immediately the term "desperate housewives" became a cultural phenomenon, warranting "the real desperate housewives" features in magazines and such TV shows as The Oprah Winfrey Show. The show has been credited with almost single-handedly (along with Lost) reviving the long-dormant fortunes of ABC, whose last major ratings hit had been Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.
The show focuses on four housewives living in suburbia, whose friend recently took her own life and is now sharing all their juicy secrets from beyond the grave. The show has come under critical fire by religious and conservative groups due to what some consider the seeming lack of morality amongst the characters. Though it is not uncommon for soap opera characters to make melodramatically questionable decisions, in the first season of "Housewives" almost every character has arguably committed a major crime.
Tagline: Everyone has a little dirty laundry.
Plot and characters
The show opens with the suicide of Mary Alice Young (Brenda Strong), who narrates the episodes from beyond the grave. Mary Alice's suicide leaves behind a mystery involving her husband Paul Young (Mark Moses), her son Zach, and a mysterious toy chest, which Paul digs out from underneath the family's pool, that ultimately is revealed to have contained the skeletal remains of a dead woman's body.
The story unravels through Mary Alice's four friends and neighbors. Each has their own storyline that ties into the theme of being a desperate housewife: accident-prone, self-victimizing single mother Susan Mayer (Teri Hatcher) tries to find love; perfect housewife Bree Van De Kamp (Marcia Cross), mother of two problematic teenagers, struggles with the death of her husband; harried Lynette Scavo (Felicity Huffman) tries to be super-mom of four while longing to return to her life as a corporate executive; and materialistic, adulterous ex-runway model Gabrielle Solis (Eva Longoria) is now pregnant and unsure who the baby's father is.
In its first season, the show reveals the mystery of why Mary Alice took her own life and the quest by a mysterious "plumber" named Mike Delfino (James Denton) to find out the fate of his former lover, drug addict Dierdre. By the end of the season, the show resolves the mystery with the revelation that 15 years ago, when Mary Alice's name is Angela Forrest, she buys the heroin-addicted Dierdre's only son Dana from Dierdre, and then flees with her husband Paul to Fairview (the town Housewives is set in) to keep the child (now named Zach) from being taken away from them.
When Dierdre finds them, Mary Alice refuses to give up the child. Upon being accused of being back on drugs, Dierdre hits Paul (Mary Alice's husband) and goes to get her son. Mary Alice, shocked, murders her and has her horrified husband dismember the body, put it in Zach's toy-chest, and bury it where the family is building a new pool in their backyard. All this happens while a 4-year-old Zach is watching them from the staircase.
What Mary Alice does not count on is that one of her neighbors, Martha Huber, learns of Mary Alice's secret from her sister (with whom Mary Alice had worked before coming to Fairview). After learning the secret, Martha attempts to blackmail Mary Alice. Rather than face the blackmail, Mary Alice kills herself. Later, when Paul finds this out he kills Martha after she tells him she does not have any regrets about her blackmailing and its result. Mike (Dierdre's lover) learns of this information from Paul whom Mike leaves in the desert (rather than killing) after Mike realizes that Zach is his son.
In the second season, the show's writers introduce numerous new interesting storylines for the housewives: Susan dealing with Mike's quest to reclaim his newly found son Zach; Bree dealing with her new status as a widow; the mystery of the new residents on Wisteria Lane, Betty Applewhite (Alfre Woodard) and her son, and the prisoner they are keeping in their basement; Edie's (Nicollette Sheridan) attempt at a relationship with Susan's ex-husband Karl (Richard Burgi); Lynette's struggle with her fast-track career in advertising; and a pregnant Gabrielle trying to salvage her marriage to her husband while his lawyer falls in love with her. Then there are the men: Mike, who wins Susan's heart; Lynette's husband, Tom (Doug Savant), who volunteers to be "Mr. Mom" so his wife can go back to work; Gabrielle's better half, Carlos, in jail at the beginning of the season, who learns of his wife's relationship with the gardener but forgives her; Bree's pharmacist friend, George (Roger Bart), who causes Rex's death by tampering with his medications; and Mary Alice's widowed husband, Paul, who once again returns to Wisteria Lane to find his son whom Susan sends away to Utah.
From her unique vantage point, Mary Alice sees more now than she ever did alive, and she's planning to share all the delicious secrets that hide behind every neighbor's closed door in this seemingly perfect American suburb.
- Main article: List of Desperate Housewives characters
(in order of the opening credits - current season)
- Teri Hatcher - Susan Mayer
- Felicity Huffman - Lynette Scavo
- Marcia Cross - Bree Van De Kamp
- Eva Longoria - Gabrielle Solis
- Nicollette Sheridan - Edie Britt
- Alfre Woodard - Betty Applewhite (Season 2 - ) appeared previously
- Ricardo Antonio Chavira - Carlos Solis
- Mark Moses - Paul Young
- Andrea Bowen - Julie Mayer
- Doug Savant - Tom Scavo (Season 2 -) recurring previously
- Cody Kasch - Zach Young
- Richard Burgi - Karl Mayer (Season 2 - ) recurring previously
- Brenda Strong - Mary Alice Young
- James Denton - Mike Delfino
- Shawn Pyfrom - Andrew Van De Kamp (Season 2 - ) (4 episodes) recurring previously
- Joy Lauren - Danielle Van De Kamp (Season 2 - ) (5 episodes) recurring previously
- Mehcad Brooks - Matthew Applewhite (Season 2 - ) (7 episodes) appeared previously
- Zane Huett - Parker Scavo (Season 2 - ) (4 episodes) recurring previously
- Shane Kinsman - Porter Scavo (Season 2 - ) (3 episodes) recurring previously
- Brent Kinsman - Preston Scavo (Season 2 - ) (3 episodes) recurring previously
- Page Kennedy - Caleb Applewhite #1 (Season 2) (3 episodes) credited until ep. 30
- Nashawn Kearse - Caleb Applewhite #2 (Season 2 - ) (2 episodes) started on ep. 31
- Roger Bart - George Williams (Season 2) (7 episodes) recurring previously
Former main cast members
- Steven Culp - Rex Van De Kamp (Season 1) recurring otherwise
- Jesse Metcalfe - John Rowland (Season 1) recurring otherwise
- Harriet Sansom Harris - Felicia Tilman (11 episodes)
- Pat Crawford Brown - Ida Greenberg (10 episodes)
- Christine Estabrook - Martha Huber (9 episodes)
- Richard Roundtree - Jerry Shaw (7 episodes)
- Lucille Soong - Yao Lin (7 episodes)
- Ryan Carnes - Justin (6 episodes)
- Lupe Ontiveros - Juanita Solis (6 episodes)
- Lesley Ann Warren - Sophie Bremmer (6 episodes)
- Bob Gunton - Noah Taylor (5 episodes)
- Sam Lloyd - Dr. Albert Goldfine (5 episodes)
- Joely Fisher - Nina Fletcher (Season 2 - ) (5 episodes)
- Adrian Pasdar - David Bradley (Season 2 - ) (4 episodes)
- Betty Murphy - Alberta Fromme (4 episodes)
- Kathryn Joosten - Karen McClusky (3 episodes)
- Melinda McGraw - Annabel Foster (3 episodes)
- Emily Christine - Ashley Bukowski (3 episodes)
- Terry Bozeman - Dr. Craig (3 episodes)
- Shirley Knight - Phyllis Van De Kamp (Season 2 - ) (3 episodes)
- Sharon Lawrence - Maisy Gibbons (3 episodes)
- Bob Newhart - Morty Flickman (3 episodes)
- Paul Dooley - Addison Prudy (Season 2 - ) (3 episodes)
- Nike Doukas - Natalie Klein (2 episodes)
- Melinda Page Hamilton - Sister Mary Bernard (2 episodes)
- Jesse Metcalfe - John Rowland (Season 2 - ) (2 episodes)
- Heather Stephens - Kendra Taylor (2 episodes)
- Jolie Jenkins - Dierdre Taylor (1 episode)
- Ryan O'Neal - Rodney Scavo (1 episode)
- Wallace Shawn - Lonny Moon (Season 2 - ) (1 episode)
- In the original pilot, Mary Alice Young was played by Sheryl Lee; Gardener John by Kyle Searles; and Rex Van De Kamp by Michael Reilly Burke. Lee was replaced, of course, by Brenda Strong for the series; both had played regular roles as dead people before, Strong on Everwood and Lee on Twin Peaks. Strong also guest starred in two Twin Peaks episodes during their second season
- Opening credits contain references to famous pieces of art, including Adam and Eve by Lucas Cranach the Elder, The Arnolfini Portrait by Jan van Eyck, American Gothic by Grant Wood, and Andy Warhol's Campbell's soup can. Also alluded to are the lesser known Couple Arguing and Romantic Couple by Robert Dale (drawn in a comic book style similar to that of Roy Liechtenstein) and a 1940s "Am I Proud!" poster by Dick Williams (showing a woman holding cans).
- Every episode title in the first season (except Pilot), and now the second season references a song title, many of them by Stephen Sondheim: they include Every Day a Little Death, You Could Drive A Person Crazy and The Ladies Who Lunch.
- Oscar-nominated British actress Miranda Richardson turned down a year-long stint in the second season of the show because "it snowballed into something that would be so disruptive", after producer Marc Cherry created a character for her, weeks after meeting her at the 2005 Golden Globe Awards. The character she was set to play was Bree's sister, inspired because of the uncanny resemblance between Richardson and Marcia Cross.
- The show's set is on the Universal Studios backlot and has been used for decades in many TV and movie productions to represent a typical American suburban neighborhood. It includes the houses used in The Munsters and the 1989 film The Burbs. A photograph of the set (apparently taken while filming was in progress) is available from Microsoft Corporation's Windows Live Local service. 
- Charles Pratt, Jr., head writer of ABC's successful daytime soap General Hospital, is a consulting producer on the series.
- Before the start of season 2, Eva Longoria and Jesse Metcalfe were Punk'd by Ashton Kutcher and his crew members. (NOTE: Metcalfe appeared on Punk'd twice)
- In the middle of the first season, there was a special on CBS, which showed families that lived on the real Wisteria Lane, in Wantagh, Long Island. The "desperate housewives" appeared on the cover of Newsday, and on the cover of the newspaper in England. These people stated that 'some people take drugs, some people aren't always sane, and that's very different then what you see on the TV show.' Another person stated that 'it's a funny show, but I don't want their problems.'
- Page Kennedy was fired from Desperate Housewives in November of 2005 for unprofessional conduct. Kennedy was replaced by Nashawn Kearse who took over the role of Caleb. Scenes from 2.08 and 2.10 were reshot with Kearse.
- The entire first season will appear for the first time on China's state-run CCTV8 in 7 days with 3 episodes being shown per night. Episodes were cut down and toned down to be less racy, by order of the Communist Party of China. 
- List of Desperate Housewives airdates and worldwide syndication
- List of Desperate Housewives awards and nominations
- List of Desperate Housewives DVD releases
- List of Desperate Housewives characters
- List of Desperate Housewives episodes
- ABC: Desperate Housewives
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- Desperatefans.org huge fansite with photogallery, downloads, fanfiction and a board
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- The Wisteria Lane (one of the first german fansites)
- The Celeb Life - fashion inspired by Desperate Housewives
- Wisteria Lane: Newest Episode Spoilers & Photos
- Desperate Housewives : almost 1000 screencaps, episodes guide, ...
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