Desperate Housewives

Desperate Housewives
Genre Serial comedy-drama
Mystery
Created by Marc Cherry
Starring Teri Hatcher
Felicity Huffman
Marcia Cross
Eva Longoria
Nicollette Sheridan
Brenda Strong
James Denton
Steven Culp
Ricardo Antonio Chavira
Mark Moses
Andrea Bowen
Jesse Metcalfe
Cody Kasch
Alfre Woodard
Doug Savant
Richard Burgi
Kyle MacLachlan
Dana Delany
Neal McDonough
Shawn Pyfrom
Drea de Matteo
Maiara Walsh
Vanessa Williams
Kathryn Joosten
Kevin Rahm
Tuc Watkins
Jonathan Cake
Charles Mesure
Madison De La Garza
Narrated by Brenda Strong (as Mary Alice Young)
Theme music composer Danny Elfman
Composer(s) Steve Bartek
Stewart Copeland
Steve Jablonsky
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 8
No. of episodes 180 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Marc Cherry
Jeff Greenstein
Tom Spezialy (season 1–2)
Michael Edelstein (season 1–2)
Joe Keenan (season 3)
George W. Perkins (season 3–4)
Bob Daily (season 4)
John Pardee and Joey Murphy (season 4)
Kevin Murphy (co-exec)
Chris Black (co-exec, season 2)
Larry Shaw (co-exec, season 3)
David Grossman (co-exec, season 3)
Matt Berry
Sabrina Wind
Producer(s) Charles Skouras III
Stephanie Hagen
Alexandra Cunningham
Jamie Gorenberg
Kevin Etten
Tracey Stern
Patty Lin
Annie Weisman
Editor(s) Karen Castañeda
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time 43 minutes
Production company(s) Cherry Alley Productions
Cherry Productions
Touchstone Television (2004–2007)
ABC Studios (2007–2012)
Distributor Disney–ABC Domestic Television (as Buena Vista Television until 2007)
Release
Original network ABC
Picture format 480i (SDTV)
1080i (HDTV)
Audio format 5.1-channel surround sound
Original release October 3, 2004 (2004-10-03) – May 13, 2012 (2012-05-13)
Chronology
Related shows Devious Maids
Desperate Housewives Africa 2011√2012
Amas de Casa Desesperadas (Argentine TV series) Argentina (2006–07),
Amas de Casa Desesperadas (Colombian–Ecuadorian TV series) Ecuador-Colombia (2007–present),
Amas de Casa Desesperadas (U.S. TV series) USA (2008),
Donas de Casa Desesperadas Brazil (2007–2008)
Umutsuz Ev Kadınları, Turkey (2011–2014)[1]

Desperate Housewives is an American television comedy-drama and mystery series created by Marc Cherry and produced by ABC Studios and Cherry Productions. It originally aired for eight seasons on ABC from October 3, 2004 to May 13, 2012. Executive producer Cherry served as showrunner. Other executive producers since the fourth season included Bob Daily, George W. Perkins, John Pardee, Joey Murphy, David Grossman, and Larry Shaw.

Set on Wisteria Lane, a street in the fictional town of Fairview in the fictional Eagle State, Desperate Housewives followed the lives of a group of women as seen through the eyes of their late friend and neighbor who committed suicide in the pilot episode. The storyline covers thirteen years of the women's lives over eight seasons, set between the years 2004–2008, and later 2013–2017 (the story arc included a five-year passage of time, as well as flashbacks ranging from the 1980s to the 2020s). They worked through domestic struggles and family life, while facing the secrets, crimes and mysteries hidden behind the doors of their—on the surface—beautiful and seemingly perfect suburban neighborhood.

The series featured an ensemble cast, headed by Teri Hatcher as Susan Mayer, Felicity Huffman as Lynette Scavo, Marcia Cross as Bree Van de Kamp, and Eva Longoria as Gabrielle Solis. Brenda Strong narrated the series as the late Mary Alice Young, appearing sporadically in flashbacks or dream sequences.[2]

Desperate Housewives was well received by viewers and critics alike. It won multiple Primetime Emmy, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Awards. From the 2004–05 through the 2008–09 television seasons, its first five seasons were rated amongst the top ten most watched series.[3] In 2007, it was reported to be the most popular show in its demographic worldwide, with an audience of approximately 120 million[4] and was also reported as the third most watched television series in a study of ratings in 20 countries.[5] In 2012, it remained as the most-watched comedy series internationally based on data from Eurodata TV Worldwide, which measured ratings across five continents;[6] it has held this position since 2006.[7] Moreover, it was the third-highest revenue earning series for 2010, with US$2.74 million per half hour.[8] The show placed #56 on Entertainment Weekly's "New TV Classics" list.[9]

In 2011, it was confirmed that Desperate Housewives would conclude after its eighth season.[10][11][12] It aired its series finale in May 2012. By the end of the series, it had surpassed Charmed as the longest running hour-long television series featuring all female leads by two episodes.

After the end of the series, the creator Marc Cherry and Eva Longoria, produced the series Devious Maids, a show in the same style as Desperate Housewives, but from the maids' point of view.

Production

The idea for the series was conceived as Marc Cherry and his mother were watching a news report on Andrea Yates.[13] Prior to Desperate Housewives, Cherry was best known for producing and writing episodes of Touchstone Television's hit comedy series The Golden Girls and its successor, The Golden Palace. In addition, he had created or co-created three sitcoms: The 5 Mrs. Buchanans, The Crew and Some of My Best Friends, none of which lasted longer than a year. Cherry had difficulty in getting any television network interested in his new series; HBO, CBS, NBC, Fox, Showtime, and Lifetime all turned the show down.[14] Finally, two new executives at ABC, Lloyd Braun and Susan Lyne, chose to greenlight it,[15] reportedly after The O.C. on Fox premiered in 2003 and showed that a soap opera could succeed in prime time.[16] Shortly thereafter, Disney had both Braun and Lyne fired, following their approval of another new drama series: Lost.[17]

The ABC executives were not initially satisfied with the name of the new show, suggesting Wisteria Lane and The Secret Lives of Housewives instead.[18][19] However, on October 23, 2003, Desperate Housewives was announced by ABC, presented as a prime time soap opera created by Charles Pratt, Jr. of Melrose Place fame, and Marc Cherry, who declared the new show to be a mix of Knots Landing and American Beauty with a little bit of Twin Peaks.[20] While Cherry continued his work on the show, Pratt was credited as executive producer for the pilot episode only, remaining linked to the show as a consulting producer during the first two seasons.

On May 18, 2004, ABC announced the 2004–2005 lineup, with Desperate Housewives in the Sunday at 9:00–10:00 p.m. ET slot,[21] which it held all through the run of the show. After only three episodes, on October 20, 2004, ABC announced that Desperate Housewives, along with Lost, had been picked up for a full season.[22] A couple of weeks later after Housewives premiered the owners of NBC called to see who had passed on the series due to its ratings success.

Desperate Housewives was produced by creator Marc Cherry (Cherry Productions), Austin Bagley and, since 2007, ABC Studios. From 2004 to 2007, Desperate Housewives was produced in association with Touchstone Television.

Production crew

Cherry, Tom Spezialy and Michael Edelstein served as executive producers for the first two seasons on the show. Spezialy, who also served as a staff writer, left his previous position as writer and executive producer for Dead Like Me to join the crew on Desperate Housewives. He had also worked as writer and co-executive producer on several shows, among them Ed, Jack and Jill, and Parker Lewis Can't Lose, while Edelstein had been the executive producer of Threat Matrix and Hope & Faith.

Second season conflicts arose among the executive producers. Subsequent to this, Edelstein left the show mid-season, and by the season's end, so did Spezialy.[23] For the third year, Cherry was joined by award-winning writer and producer Joe Keenan—of Frasier fame—and television movie producer George W. Perkins, who had been a crew member of Desperate Housewives since the show's conception. Although receiving praise for his work on the show, Keenan chose to leave Desperate Housewives after one season to pursue other projects.[24] Replacing him as executive producer for the fourth season of the show was Bob Daily, who had joined the crew as a writer and co-executive producer during the third season. Daily's previous work include writing for the animated series Rugrats, as for Frasier. Also joining Cherry, Perkins and Daily for the fourth season were John Pardee and Joey Murphy, who had been with the series since the beginning.[25] Both had also worked on Cherry's previous show The Crew in 1995, as well as on the sitcom Cybill.

In the first four seasons, Larry Shaw and David Grossman have been the most prolific directors, together directing more than half of the episodes.

Filming

The residence of Mary Alice Young (as seen in the premiere episode of Desperate Housewives), on Wisteria Lane

Desperate Housewives was filmed on Panavision 35 mm cameras (except for the final season, which was shot digitally on the Arri Alexa).[26] It was broadcast in standard and 16:9 widescreen high definition, though it was framed for the 4:3 aspect ratio[27] until the final season.

The set for Wisteria Lane, consisting mainly of facades but also of some proper houses, was located on the Universal Studios Hollywood back lot. It was referred to by film crews as Colonial Street, and has been used for several motion pictures and television shows since the mid-1940s.[28] Notable productions that were filmed here include: So Goes My Love, Leave it to Beaver, The 'Burbs, Providence, Deep Impact, Bedtime for Bonzo, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Gremlins, The Munsters, Psycho, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.[28] For the second season of Desperate Housewives, the street went through some heavy changes. Among the most noticeable of these changes was the removal of a church facade and a mansion in order to make room for Edie's house and a park.[29][30]

Interior sets were built on sound stages at Universal Studios Hollywood, some of which were duplicated in some form on the Wisteria Lane back lot for filming when conditions required it.[31]

Filming for the series ended April 26, 2012.

Opening sequence

The initial idea for the show opening sequence was Cherry's. After asking sixteen companies to come up with suggestions for how best to realize it, the producers finally hired Hollywood-based yU+co to provide the final version.[32] According to the yU+co's official website, the idea behind the sequence is, "to evoke the show's quirky spirit and playful flouting of women's traditional role in society."[33] The images featured are taken from eight pieces of art, portraying domesticity and male–female relations through the ages.[34]

The music for the opening is composed by Danny Elfman, and has been awarded both a Primetime Emmy Award and the BMI TV Music Award.[35] In 2005 it was included on the album Music from and Inspired by Desperate Housewives. When an episode runs long, only the first sequence (the falling apple) is kept. From the episode "Now You Know" onwards, only the main chorus of the theme is heard, which is the falling apple scene, and the photograph of the four lead actresses, crediting Marc Cherry as creator.

Music

In addition to the theme composed by Danny Elfman, the series underscore music, composed by Steve Jablonsky since the second episode of the first season, defines the overall sound of the show by creating a musical counterpoint to the writing style. The score is electronic-based, but every scoring session incorporates a live string ensemble. Jablonsky incorporates recurring themes for events and characters into the score.[36] Hollywood Records produced the first soundtrack album, Music from and Inspired by Desperate Housewives distributed by Universal Records. Several of those songs have been used in subsequent seasons.

Housewives's unique style combined with the heavy dialogue and a quick-fire writing style limits the amount of popular music used within the series. The series' music supervisor, David Sibley, works closely with the producers to integrate these musical needs into the show. In addition to featured performances by central characters such as Susan Mayer singing along with Rose Royce's "Car Wash" and Lynette's rendition of "Boogie Shoes", several characters have been accomplished musicians, such as Betty Applewhite (a concert pianist) and Dylan Mayfair (a prodigy cellist).

Later seasons

In August 2009, Marc Cherry said that Desperate Housewives would be on television for a few more years, stating that the series still "has a lot of life left in it." He told The Wrap:

Steve McPherson (ABC Entertainment president) and I agree that we shouldn't keep the show going for more than a couple [of] years past my seven-year initial contract. We don't want it to just fade away. We've been in negotiations. I expect to sign my new deal soon to set up a future scenario for the show. Someone else will run the show after season seven and I will serve as executive producer from a distance.

He went on to explain that he felt the program had been revitalized by the five-year leap forward for season five, saying: "Yes, I think it worked well. It was a way to start fresh and let everyone start from scratch in a way".[37]

In October 2009, Cherry signed a two-year deal with ABC that could keep Desperate Housewives on the air until 2013.[38] The stars of Desperate Housewives finalized new deals to make way for Season 8,[39][40] and signed at the price of $12 million.[41]

Originally, Marc Cherry hinted that Desperate Housewives would end in 2013[42] and in April 2011, Eva Longoria confirmed that there would definitely be an eighth season and expressed hopes for a ninth.[43] Desperate Housewives was officially renewed by ABC on May 17, 2011 for an eighth season.[10]

Final season

In August 2011, it was confirmed that Season 8 of Desperate Housewives would be the final season.[11][12] Eva Longoria commented about the end of Desperate Housewives on her Twitter account:

It's confirmed! We are filming our last season of Desperate Housewives! I am so grateful for what the show has given me! We always knew we wanted to end on top and I thank ABC for giving us our victory lap! And a special thanks to Marc Cherry who forever changed my life![44]

Marc Cherry, the show's creator, made a cameo as a mover in the last scene of the final episode.

Series synopses and episodes

The first season premiered on October 3, 2004, and introduces the four central characters of the show: Susan Mayer, Lynette Scavo, Bree Van de Kamp and Gabrielle Solis, as well as their families and neighbors on Wisteria Lane. The main mystery of the season is the unexpected suicide of Mary Alice Young, and the involvement of her husband Paul Young (Mark Moses) and their son Zach (Cody Kasch) in the events leading up to it. Susan fights Edie Britt (Nicollette Sheridan) for the affection of new neighbor Mike Delfino (James Denton), Lynette struggles to cope with her demanding children, Bree fights to save her marriage to Rex Van de Kamp (Steven Culp), and Gabrielle tries to prevent her husband Carlos Solis (Ricardo Antonio Chavira) from discovering that she is having an affair with their gardener, John Rowland (Jesse Metcalfe).

The Applewhite house, focus of Desperate Housewives' season-long mystery from 2005 to 2006

The second season premiered on September 25, 2005, and its central mystery is that of new neighbor Betty Applewhite (Alfre Woodard), who moved onto Wisteria Lane in the middle of the night. Throughout the season, Bree tries to cope with being a widow, unknowingly begins dating the man who poisoned her husband, fights alcoholism, and is unable to prevent the gap between her and her son Andrew Van de Kamp (Shawn Pyfrom) from growing to extremes. Susan's love life becomes even more complicated as her ex-husband Karl Mayer (Richard Burgi) is engaged to Edie and is also started to incline towards Susan. Lynette goes back to her career in advertising while her husband Tom Scavo (Doug Savant) becomes a stay-at-home father, and Gabrielle decides to be faithful to Carlos, and begins preparations to have a child. Paul is framed and sent to jail not for the murder he committed in the previous season, but for a fake one.

The third season premiered on September 24, 2006. In the third season, Bree marries Orson Hodge (Kyle MacLachlan), whose past and involvement with a recently discovered dead body becomes the main mystery of the season. Meanwhile, Lynette has to adjust to the arrival of Tom's previously unknown daughter to the home. The Scavos also experience tension as Tom wants to start a pizzeria. Gabrielle goes through a rough divorce, but finally finds new love in Fairview's new mayor. After being run over by Orson in the previous season finale, Mike falls into coma and suffers from amnesia when he wakes up. Edie sees her chance to make her move on Mike, and her family relations are explored throughout the season. Susan loses hope that Mike's memory will return and in the process moves on to a handsome Englishman whose wife is also in a coma, while her daughter Julie Mayer (Andrea Bowen) starts dating Edie's nephew. Elderly neighbor Karen McCluskey (Kathryn Joosten) hides something in her freezer. A shooting at the local grocery store leaves two characters dead and changes everyone's lives forever.

The fourth season premiered on September 30, 2007,[45] and its main mystery revolves around new neighbor Katherine Mayfair (Dana Delany) and her family, who return to Wisteria Lane after twelve years away. Lynette battles cancer; the newlywed – but unhappy – Gabrielle starts an affair with her ex-husband Carlos; Susan and Mike enjoy life as a married couple and learn that they are expecting a child; Bree fakes a pregnancy and plans to raise her teenage daughter's illegitimate child as her own; and Edie schemes to hold on to her new love, Carlos. A gay couple from Chicago – Lee McDermott (Kevin Rahm) and Bob Hunter (Tuc Watkins) – become residents of Wisteria Lane. A tornado threatens to destroy everything, and everyone, that the housewives hold dear. In the closing minute the characters and their story have flashed forward by five years.

The house of Katherine Mayfair on Wisteria Lane, as seen on Desperate Housewives from 2007 to 2010

The fifth season premiered on September 28, 2008, with the time period jumping five years after the previous season, with some flashbacks to events which happened between the two periods. The season mystery revolves around Edie's new husband, Dave Williams (Neal McDonough), who is looking for revenge on someone on Wisteria Lane (later revealed to be Mike). Susan deals with being a single mother and having a new romance with her painter, while Mike starts dating Katherine. Lynette and Tom learn that their now teenage son is having an affair with a married woman whose husband's nightclub burns down with all of Wisteria Lane's neighbors inside. Gabrielle struggles with Carlos' blindness, two young daughters, and a financial crisis. Bree and Orson have marriage problems because Bree has become too focused on her career as a successful cookbook writer and caterer. Edie dies of electrocution after a car crash, before she can expose Dave moments after she discovers his secret.

The sixth season premiered on Sunday, September 27, 2009, at 9pm.[46] The main mystery of this season is surrounding new neighbor Angie Bolen (Drea de Matteo) and her family. The first half of the season consists of Julie being stra