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Teri Hatcher as Susan Mayer; Felicity Huffman as Lynette Scavo; Marcia Cross as Bree Hodge; Eva Longoria Parker as Gabrielle Solis; Dana Delany as Katherine Mayfair
Paul Asay
Desperate Housewives

Desperate Housewives

There goes the neighborhood. Again.

Since 2004 the women of Wisteria Lane have been having affairs, children and breakdowns with eerie regularity. It's just like real life, right? We'd all be shocked—shocked!—if we really knew what's going on behind our neighbors' front doors, the show's makers suggest.

Still, one can only hope that the crisis-per-capita rate along this picturesque drive is a statistical anomaly. Voyeurs—I mean, viewers—have watched these protagonists deal with marriage and divorce, murder and suicide, tornadoes, fires, plane crashes and hundreds of neighborhood covenant violations during the show's run thus far. And it's just going to keep on coming, too.

Written with winking wit, Desperate Housewives can explore some fascinating territory. Through the sensationalistic misadventures of Susan, Lynette, Bree and Gabrielle, it's possible to glean a sense of what really should be precious to us: love, family, community. But let's not lead ourselves astray. From its inception, Desperate Housewives (with an enticing, Eden-style apple embedded within its logo for emphasis) has been all about sex. Who's having it with whom, who's not having it and why, and how they go about getting some or more of it.

"Seduction," begins the narrator during a 2010 episode. "Any soap opera will tell you it's an art best practiced on those who are vulnerable."

The narrator could be referring to any number of characters on Wisteria Lane—be they seducer or seduced. But she also speaks to the temptation of the show itself. For years, Desperate Housewives has been enticing us to enter its world, absorb its stories, live with its complexities. And quite a few of us, charmed perhaps by crisp writing and tempted by over-the-top storylines, have walked into a Desperate web, barely noticing what a problematic relationship we're stepping into.

Episode Reviews

"The Chase"

Traditional promiscuity? So old school on Wisteria Lane. Most of this episode's relationships center around homosexual affairs. Katherine suspects that she might be a lesbian. Bree's son admits to having an affair with a (male) employee. Gabrielle temporarily plays hooky from her family to party with two gay neighbors and their bevy of buddies. "I miss the gay single life!" she says.

Included is a scene in which two women are in bed together under tangled sheets. We see Katherine's roomie (an ex-stripper) glide around in her underwear. We hear about affairs and premarital living arrangements. An 80-year-old man is tempted to cheat on his girlfriend.

Characters misuse God's name a half-dozen times and use other profanities ("a‑‑," "d‑‑n," "crap" and "h‑‑‑"). People drink wine and Cosmos. Gabrielle says she wants to get drunk, throw up and get a hangover. Graphic references are made to urinating on trees and delivering babies. Oh, and Lynette forgets her 11-year-old daughter's birthday and name. The girl, as a consequence, tries to run away.