Tuesday, May 15, 2012

TV Tuesday: Desperately Seeking a New Sunday Night Address: ABC Says Goodbye to Wisteria Lane

I've always loved "Desperate Housewives."  From its spine-tinglingly whodunit first season to the bitter end eight years worth of intrigue, romance, and heartbreak later, I remained firmly fixed on my couch at 9:00 each Sunday night to find out what was happening on Wisteria Lane.  Sure, it was soapy and catty and made up of sensational plot lines.  But the thing that set "Desperate Housewives" apart from other shows of its kind was its sincere and ever-present reminder that things are not what they seem and that life is precious and can change on a dime.  Smart and satiric, it revealed the untidy gardens of life behind suburbia's white picket fences.  But it snuck in sentiment amidst the snark, and in the end, its poignancy was what made its heart beat.

Yet despite all of this, I didn't expect much from last Sunday night's series finale.  The big question of how Susan (Teri Hatcher), Gaby (Eva Longoria), Bree (Marcia Cross), and Lynette (Felicity Huffman) were going to get out of going to jail for covering up the murder of Gaby's abusive stepfather seemed to be losing steam, especially after it was revealed that Bree's ex-husband Orson was the one sending those creepy "I know what you did" notes.  Although I sensed that no one would be put behind bars, I was unprepared for the dying Karen McCluskey to confess to the murder.  At the beginning of the show, Susan, Gaby, Bree, and Lynette agreed to look after her so she could die at home.  Never sure of their true feelings for her, Karen expresses her appreciation in a fitting act of unselfish symmetry, showing that everything happens for a reason and that despite all the mistakes the four friends made over the years, they are ultimately good people worthy of a second chance.

The last minutes of the two-hour show time Karen's last and Susan's granddaughter's first breaths, reminding us that death is a part of life and that life goes on.  Then we get a glimpse of the women's futures.  Lynette and Tom move to New York City so Lynette can become the CEO of ex-housewife Katherine's frozen croissant company, Gaby and Carlos move to California after the launch of Gaby's successful personal shopping business, and Bree marries her trial lawyer (Scott Bakula) and moves to Kentucky to become a politician.  Each of these women's destinies seems perfectly suited to her, both professionally and geographically, and it's no accident that these formerly desperate housewives end up achieving both personal and career success.

Still, we don't really know what happens to Susan.  Ever the nurturer, she is surrounded by her children and grandchildren - perhaps her destiny - as she drives away from her just-sold house for one last spin around the lane.  Mike's absence is palpably painful.  Mike and Susan's love story was perhaps the most genuine of all on the show, which was what made it so wrenching to watch Mike die of a gunshot wound in Susan's arms.  And yet, as initially out-of-the-blue as Mike's death seemed, it had been gently foreshadowed during the pilot episode when Susan and Mike met at - of all places - Mary Alice's funeral.  Always a powerful if unseen presence, Mary Alice fulfills her narrator duties right up until the very end, telling us that Susan feels as if she's being watched.  Sure enough, all of the characters who have died on the show, starting with Mike and ending with Mary Alice herself, appear on the lawn to give Wisteria Lane's nicest resident a bittersweet sendoff.  Then, in a classic "Desperate Houswives" twist, the scene cuts to Susan's old house, where the young new owner is stashing a suspicious box - not unlike Mary Alice's - in a closet to the tune of eerie music.        

I'm sure I'll watch whatever new show claims "Desperate Housewives' " vacant time slot.  But Sunday nights will never be the same.                 

1 comment:

Valerie said...

You know, I never did see this show, but we have Netflix and I'm going to put it on my list.

I'm sad that you won't have this show to look forward to on Sunday nights any more. Hopefully something just as watch worthy comes along to take its place:)