Desperate Housewives

Desperate Housewives
Desperate Housewives
Desperate Housewives Logo.svg
Genre Comedy-drama
Created by Marc Cherry
Starring Teri Hatcher
Felicity Huffman
Marcia Cross
Eva Longoria
Nicollette Sheridan
Steven Culp
Ricardo Antonio Chavira
Mark Moses
Andrea Bowen
Jesse Metcalfe
Cody Kasch
Doug Savant
Alfre Woodard
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
Madison De La Garza
James Denton
Narrated by Brenda Strong
Theme music composer Danny Elfman
Composer(s) Steve Bartek
Stewart Copeland
Steve Jablonsky
Country of origin United States
Language(s) English
No. of seasons 8
No. of episodes 164 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Marc Cherry
Tom Spezialy (seasons 1–2)
Michael Edelstein (seasons 1–2)
Joe Keenan (season 3)
George W. Perkins (seasons 3–4)
Bob Daily (season 4)
John Pardee & 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)
Camera setup Single camera
Production company(s) Cherry Alley Productions
Cherry Productions
Touchstone Television/ABC Studios
Original channel ABC
Picture format (SDTV),
576i (SDTV) Channel 4 and E4
720p (HDTV) ABC HD,
1080i (HDTV) Channel 4 HD
Audio format 5.1-channel surround sound
Original run October 3, 2004 (2004-10-03) – present
Related shows Amas de Casa Desesperadas Argentina (2006–2007),
Amas de Casa Desesperadas Uruguay-Colombia (2007–present),
Amas de Casa Desesperadas USA (2008),
Donas de Casa Desesperada (2007-2008)
Umutsuz Ev Kadınları, Turkey (end of 2011)[1]
External links

Desperate Housewives is an American television comedy-drama series created by Marc Cherry and produced by ABC Studios and Cherry Productions. Executive producer Cherry serves as Showrunner. Other executive producers since the fourth season include Marc Cherry, Bob Daily, George W. Perkins, John Pardee and Joey Murphy, David Grossman, Larry Shaw and Sabrina Wind.

The setting of the show is the street of Wisteria Lane in the fictional American town of Fairview in the Eagle State. It follows the lives of a group of women, seen through the eyes of their dead neighbor. They work through domestic struggles and family life, while facing the secrets, crimes and mysteries hidden behind the doors of their—at the surface—beautiful and seemingly perfect suburban neighborhood.[2]

The show features 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 narrates the show as the deceased Mary Alice Young, appearing sporadically in flashbacks or dreams.[3]

Since its premiere on ABC on October 3, 2004, the show has been well received by viewers and critics alike. The show is a multiple Emmy, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild award winner. The series premiere drew 21.6 million viewers[4][5] and the show's first season finale attracted over 30 million viewers.[6] In 2007 it was reported to be the most popular show in its demographic worldwide, with an audience of approximately 120 million[7] and was also reported that the series is the third most watched TV show in a study of ratings in 20 countries.[8] In 2010, it was the most-watched comedy series internationally, with an average viewership of 51.6 million viewers across 68 territories.[9][10][11] It has held this position since 2006.[12] Moreover, it was the third-highest revenue earning show for 2010, with US$2.74 million per half hour.[13][14]

Desperate Housewives was officially renewed by ABC on May 17, 2011 for an eighth season.[15] The season premiere episode was broadcast on Sunday, September 25.[16] The eighth season will be the show's final season.[17][18]

Desperate Housewives is broadcast on ABC, Channel 4, Channel 5, Seven Network, CTV, TV2, ABC HD, E4, TVNZ, Arena, STAR World, OSN First.



The idea for the series was conceived as Marc Cherry and his mother were watching a news report on Andrea Yates. 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. Initially, Cherry had a hard time getting any television network interested in his new series – HBO, CBS, NBC, Fox, Showtime, and Lifetime all turned his offer down.[19] Finally, two new executives at ABC, Lloyd Braun and Susan Lyne, chose to greenlight it.[20] Shortly thereafter, Disney had both Braun and Lyne fired, following their approval of another new drama series: Lost.[21]

The ABC executives were not initially satisfied with the name of the new show, suggesting Wisteria Lane and The Secret Lives of Housewives instead,.[22] 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.[23] 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,[24] which it still holds. After only three episodes were broadcast, on October 20, ABC announced that Desperate Housewives, along with Lost, had been picked up for a full season.[25] On May 18, 2010, ABC picked up Desperate Housewives for a seventh season for the 2010–2011 television season.[26]

Desperate Housewives is 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.[27] 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.[28] 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.[29] 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.


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

Desperate Housewives is filmed on Panavision 35 mm cameras; it is broadcast in standard and 16:9 widescreen high definition, though it is framed for the 4:3 aspect ratio.[30] The set for Wisteria Lane, consisting mainly of facades but also of some proper houses, is located on the Universal Studios Hollywood back lot. It is referred to by film crews as Colonial Street, and has been used for several motion pictures and television shows since the mid 1940s.[31] 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.[32] 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.[33][34]

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.[35] 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."[36] The images featured are taken from eight pieces of art, portraying domesticity and male-female relations through the ages.[37]

The music for the opening is composed by Danny Elfman, and has been awarded both an Emmy Award and the BMI TV Music Award.[38] 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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]


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.[39] 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.[citation needed] 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).


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".[40]

In October 2009, Cherry signed a two-year deal with ABC that could keep Desperate Housewives on the air until 2013.[41] The stars of Desperate Housewives finalized new deals to make way for Season 8,[42][43] and signed at the price of $12 million.[44]

Originally, Marc Cherry hinted that Desperate Housewives would end in 2013[45] and in April 2011, Eva Longoria confirmed that there would definitely be an eighth season and expressed hopes for a ninth.[46] Desperate Housewives was officially renewed by ABC on May 17, 2011 for an eighth season.[15]

Final Season

It has now been confirmed that Season 8 of Desperate Housewives will be the final season.[17][18]

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!

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 her husband and son's involvement in the events leading up to it. Bree fights to save her marriage, Lynette struggles to cope with her demanding children, Susan fights Edie Britt for new neighbor Mike Delfino's affection, and Gabrielle tries to prevent her husband Carlos from discovering that she is having an affair with their gardener, John Rowland. The end of the first season results in Bree's husband, Rex, dying while believing Bree has poisoned him, Carlos being informed of Gaby's affair by John himself before being sent to prison, a fired Tom allowing Lynette to take his place as the bread-winner of the household, and a cliffhanger which puts Mike in danger of being shot by his own son.

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, 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 from growing to extremes. Susan’s love life becomes even more complicated as her ex-husband is engaged to Edie (who has been promoted to the role of fifth lead) and is also started to incline towards Susan, Lynette goes back to her career in advertising and eventually becomes her husband's boss, and Gabrielle decides to be faithful to her husband, and begins preparations to have a child. In the closing moment of the season finale, Mike is run over by Susan's dentist friend Orson Hodge.

The third season premiered on September 24, 2006. In the third season, Bree marries Orson, whose past and involvement with a recently discovered dead body becomes the main mystery for half of the season. Meanwhile, Lynette has to adjust to having another child around the house, as a previously unknown daughter of her husband arrives. The Scavos also experience tension as Tom, Lynette's husband, wants to start a pizzeria. Gabrielle goes through a rough divorce, but finally finds new love in Fairview’s new mayor. Edie sees her chance to make her move on Mike, who is suffering from amnesia. 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. Edie's family relations are explored throughout the season. 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,[48] and its main mystery revolves around new neighbor Katherine Mayfair and her family, who returns to Wisteria Lane after twelve years away. Her daughter remembers nothing about living on Wisteria Lane. 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 (Kevin Rahm) and Bob (Tuc Watkins) – become residents of Wisteria Lane when they move into the house formerly occupied by Betty Applewhite (Alfre Woodard), and Gloria and Alma Hodge. A tornado threatens to destroy everything, and everyone, that the housewives hold dear. The season finale has Katherine's abusive cop ex-husband killing and getting killed, then in the closing minute the characters and their story have flashed forward by five years: Bree is a successful cookbook writer, her son works for her, Gabrielle has had children, Lynette's twins are old enough to drive cars, and Susan has a new lover played by Gale Harold—but what happened to Mike?

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 Britt's new husband, Dave Williams, played by Neal McDonough. Dave is looking for revenge on someone on Wisteria Lane (later revealed to be Mike Delfino and then Susan). Susan deals with being a single mother and having a new romance with Jackson (Gale Harold). Lynette and Tom learn that their son is having an affair with a married woman whose husband's nightclub burns down with all of Wisteria Lane's neighbors inside. Carlos and Gabrielle struggle with their two daughters, Juanita and Celia, as Carlos' sight returns. Bree and Orson have marriage problems, because Bree has become too focused on her career, and Orson begins to steal from neighbors as a coping mechanism. As a result, Orson is found lying in the street when Edie is racing away from her house after she discovers that Dave is plotting to kill Mike and all those he loves; Edie swerves to avoid hitting Orson and crashes into an electrical pole, then exits the car, only to die of electrocution before she can expose Dave. It is later when Susan reveals to Dave that it was she, not Mike, who was driving the car the night that a woman and child ran a stop sign because it had fallen over on a dark stretch of road. Dave's revenge plans suddenly change as he says "Hi" to M.J., Mike and Susan's son.

The fifth season featured the show's one-hundredth episode, revolving around Eli Scruggs (played by Beau Bridges), a handyman who had an important role in all of the ladies' lives. This episode features flashbacks and returning characters, including Mary Alice Young, Martha Huber and Rex Van de Kamp. The episode was broadcast on ABC on Sunday, January 18, 2009.

The sixth season premiered on Sunday, September 27, 2009 at 9pm.[49] The main mystery of this season is surrounding new neighbor Angie Bolen and her family. The first half of the season consists of the conflict between Lynette and Gabrielle as Lynette attempts to sue Carlos, Susan's daughter Julie being attacked by an unknown person, Katherine's eventual breakdown at losing Mike to Susan and Bree's affair with Karl, Susan's ex-husband. Bree's affair ends tragically when Karl's hired plane crashes into a building with the two of them and Orson inside. The second half of the season focuses on Katherine experimenting with her sexuality, Lynette inviting the Fairview strangler to stay with them before discovering the truth, the conflict between Bree's stepson Sam and Andrew and the solving of the Bolen mystery.

The seventh season premiered on September 26, 2010 [50] and its main focus is the return of Paul Young to Wisteria Lane and his plans of seeking revenge on the residents for shunning him during his incarceration. This season also focuses on the mystery of Paul’s new wife Beth, and Felicia Tilman’s plans to avenge the death of her sister, Martha Huber. Gabrielle and Carlos learn an unsettling fact about their daughter Juanita, which ultimately takes them back to Gabrielle’s home town of Las Colinas. Due to financial problems, Susan and her family have moved off the lane, and Susan is forced to earn money by somewhat untraditional means. Lynette’s best friend from college, Renee Perry (Vanessa Williams) moves to the Lane and stirs things up among the other housewives. Following a major riot on the lane, Susan is put on the waiting list for a vital organ donation. Carlos learns the truth about his mother’s death, consequently ending the friendship between the Solis family and Bree. Lynette persuades Tom to take an exciting new job, which leads to unprecedented problems in their marriage. The two-hour season finale aired on May 15, 2011 and seemingly ends the troubles between Felicia Tilman and Paul Young. An unexpected visitor arrives in the Solis family home, paving the way for the eighth season.

The eighth and final season commenced on Sunday, September 25, 2011.[51]

Cast and characters

Main cast

During its premiere season the show featured thirteen starring actors, all credited in the opening sequence. For the show's second year, several actors, mainly child and teenage ones, who had guest starred during the first season, were promoted to series regulars without having their names included in the opening sequence. Instead they were billed as "also starring" during the first minutes of each episode, together with episode guest stars. This practice continued for season three and four.

Teri Hatcher plays Susan Mayer

The thirteen starring actors for season one included four leading actresses: Teri Hatcher as Susan Mayer, a divorced mother with a sense of humor for drama and in search of love; Felicity Huffman as Lynette Scavo, a former businesswoman turned stressed out stay-at-home mother of four; Marcia Cross as Bree Van de Kamp, the seemingly perfect mother struggling to save her marriage; and Eva Longoria as Gabrielle Solis, an ex-model whose unhappy marriage has had her beginning an affair with her 17-year-old gardener. Furthermore, Nicollette Sheridan played Edie Britt, Susan's arch rival, described by her as "the neighborhood slut", who since then slowly had grown to become somewhat of a fifth lead. Steven Culp played Rex Van de Kamp, Bree’s frustrated husband with secret sexual desires, while Ricardo Antonio Chavira portrayed Gabrielle’s spouse Carlos Solis, a rough business man who regarded his wife mainly as a trophy, and James Denton acted as Mike Delfino, the mysterious new neighbor who becomes Susan's love interest. Brenda Strong portrayed the show’s narrator Mary Alice Young, who generally doesn’t appear in front of the camera, and whose unexpected suicide in the first episode remained a mystery throughout season one. Mark Moses played Paul Young, Mary Alice's widower, who went to extremes not to have the reason for his wife's suicide revealed, and Cody Kasch acted as Zach Young, the troubled teenage son of Paul and Mary Alice, who eventually turned out to be Mike's biological son. Finally, Andrea Bowen took the part of Susan’s caring and kind-hearted teenage daughter Julie Mayer, and Jesse Metcalfe played John Rowland, Gabrielle’s teenage gardener/lover.

Eva Longoria plays Gabrielle Solis

For the second season, Culp and Metcalfe left as show regulars, as Rex died from a heart attack and Gabrielle had ended her relationship with John. Several actors who had appeared as guest stars during the entire run of the first season were promoted to regulars for the second year, including Doug Savant as Tom Scavo, Lynette’s husband who for the second season quit his job determined to become a stay-at-home dad; Brent Kinsman, Shane Kinsman and Zane Huett as Preston, Porter and Parker Scavo, Lynette and Tom's rascal boys; Shawn Pyfrom as Bree’s complicated gay son Andrew Van de Kamp; and Joy Lauren as Danielle Van de Kamp, Andrew's hardheaded sister. Alfre Woodard and Mehcad Brooks joined the cast as Betty Applewhite and her son Matthew, who moved to the street in the middle of the night in order for the neighbors not to discover that they had Betty's other son Caleb – originally played by Page Kennedy, but soon replaced by NaShawn Kearse – locked up in the basement. Also joining the main cast for the second season, after guest starring in a few season one episodes, were Richard Burgi as Karl Mayer, Susan's ex-husband who becomes engaged to Edie, and Roger Bart as George Williams, Bree's pharmacist, and later obsessed fiancé, who had caused Rex's death. Bart, however, left the show mid-season, due to the death of George.

As the Applewhite mystery was solved in the second season finale, Woodard, Brooks and Kearse all had left the show when the third season began, as had Mark Moses, as Paul was framed for murder and incarcerated; Cody Kasch, due to Zach's becoming a millionaire after causing his ill biological grandfather to die and thereby inheriting his entire fortune; and Richard Burgi, following Karl being dumped by both Susan and Edie. Two additions were made to the main cast for season three: Kyle MacLachlan as Orson Hodge, who marries Bree and whose dark family history serves as the main mystery for most of the season, and Josh Henderson, playing Edie's bad boy nephew Austin McCann, who starts a relationship with Julie, but ends up getting Danielle pregnant and left the series mid-season.

Dana Delany plays Katherine Mayfair

For the fourth season, after having appeared as a recurring guest star during season three, Rachel Fox was added to the main cast playing Kayla Scavo, Tom's daughter from a previous "one night stand". Also joining the main cast were Dana Delany and Lyndsy Fonseca as Katherine and Dylan Mayfair, a mother and teenage daughter who lived on Wisteria Lane twelve years earlier, but had left the street. Dana Delany's character is married to Dr. Adam Mayfair played by guest star Nathan Fillion. Joining the recurring cast in the fourth episode were Kevin Rahm and Tuc Watkins as a gay couple, Lee McDermott and Bob Hunter, who move in next door to Susan.

Neal McDonough joined the cast of Desperate Housewives as a series regular in season 5. He played Dave Williams, the new husband of Nicollette Sheridan's character, Edie Britt. Max and Charlie Carver were been cast as Preston and Porter Scavo, respectively, Joshua Logan Moore as Parker Scavo and Kendall Applegate as Penny Scavo. Madison De La Garza and Daniella Baltodano also joined the recurring cast as Juanita and Celia Solis, respectively, the young daughters of Carlos and Gabrielle Solis, and so did Mason Vale Cotton as MJ Delfino, Susan and Mike's young son.

Shawn Pyfrom quit his regular role as Andrew Van de Kamp after season 5 and has only made guest appearances in the recent years, and Edie Britt was killed off near the end of season 5, and thus Nicollette Sheridan has left the main cast.

Kathryn Joosten plays Karen McCluskey

In the show's sixth season, Andrea Bowen re-joined the series' cast as a regular. After appearing as a guest star in the fifth season finale, Maiara Walsh was made into a regular actress. Drea de Matteo, Jeffrey Nordling, and Beau Mirchoff joined the cast as Angie, Nick and Danny Bolen, respectively, being the season's mystery. Kathryn Joosten was promoted to a series regular, after being a recurring guest star for five years. Madison De La Garza, who plays Gabrielle's eldest daughter, Juanita, and Mason Vale Cotton, who plays Susan and Mike's son, MJ, were also promoted to regulars. Max Carver wasn't on the show until his character, Preston, returned from an extended trip in Europe with a girlfriend, Irina, thus being demoted to a recurring cast member, supposedly because the show's cast was big enough already.

As of the seventh season Tuc Watkins and Kevin Rahm have both been upgraded to series regulars, and Kyle MacLachlan left Desperate Housewives. Mark Moses returned to Desperate Housewives to reprise his role as Paul Young, widower of Mary Alice Young, in the season six finale. Vanessa Williams joined the cast of Desperate Housewives as Renee Perry, an old rival of Lynette's from college. The role of Penny was recast, with Applegate being replaced by Darcy Rose Byrnes.

Jonathan Cake joined the Desperate Housewives cast towards the end of Season 7 in the role of Chuck Vance, a love interest for Bree.[52]

Charles Mesure has joined the cast of Desperate Housewives as Ben, a ruthless self-made contractor who will find Renee Perry attractive.[53]


Eva Longoria was the first reported to have landed a starring role, on February 9, 2004,[54] followed by Felicity Huffman (February 10),[55] Teri Hatcher (February 18),[56] James Denton and Ricardo Antonio Chavira (February 26),[57] Marcia Cross (March 1),[58] Sheryl Lee, Mark Moses, and Cody Kasch (March 3),[59] Andrea Bowen and Kyle Searles (March 4),[60] and Michael Reilly Burke (March 8).[61] On May 18, 2004 ABC announced their 2004–2005 lineup, with Desperate Housewives as one of its new shows, starring an ensemble cast of these twelve names.[24]

On July 2, after having shot the first pilot, ABC announced that Lee, Searles and Burke were to be replaced by Brenda Strong, Jesse Metcalfe and Steven Culp, respectively.[62] While Lee was turned down after producers rethought the character of Mary Alice,[63] Searles was replaced because of the lack of chemistry between him and his onscreen lover, Eva Longoria.[64] Steven Culp had been the producer's first choice for the part as Rex Van de Kamp, but as he had missed a meeting with the ABC executive to complete shooting for another television show, Star Trek: Enterprise, the part had been offered to Burke instead. After the original pilot was filmed, Culp was off the Enterprise cast, and when asked again Culp accepted the part, and Burke was let go.[65]


Name Actress Episodes Years
Mary Alice Young (Narrator) Brenda Strong 1.01–present 2004–present
Susan Mayer Teri Hatcher 1.01–present 2004–present
Lynette Scavo Felicity Huffman 1.01–present 2004–present
Bree Van de Kamp Marcia Cross 1.01–present 2004–present
Gabrielle Solis Eva Longoria 1.01–present 2004–present
Edie Britt Nicollette Sheridan 1.01–5.23 2004–2009
Betty Applewhite Alfre Woodard 1.222.24 2005–2006
Katherine Mayfair Dana Delany 4.016.18 2007–2010
Angie Bolen Drea de Matteo 6.01–6.23 2009–2010
Renee Perry Vanessa Williams 7.01–present 2010–present



Season Timeslot (EDT) Season Premiere Season Finale TV Season Rank Viewers
(in millions)
18-49 Average
1 Sunday 9:00 P.M. October 3, 2004 May 22, 2005 2004-05 #4[66] 23.69[66] 10.66[67]
2 September 25, 2005 May 21, 2006 2005-06 #4[68] 21.70[68] 10.09[67]
3 September 24, 2006 May 20, 2007 2006-07 #12[69] 16.70[69] 7.57[67]
4 September 30, 2007 May 18, 2008 2007-08 #8[70] 17.52[70] 6.71[67]
5 September 28, 2008 May 17, 2009 2008-09 #9[71] 15.66[71] 5.29[67]
6 September 27, 2009 May 16, 2010 2009-10 #20[72] 12.83[72] 4.25[67]
7 September 26, 2010 May 15, 2011 2010-11 #26[73] 11.85[73] 3.9[73]
8 September 25, 2011[16] Spring 2012 2011-12 TBD TBD TBD

Premiere year

The show was the biggest success of the 2004–2005 television season, being well-received by both critics and viewers. The pilot episode had 21.3 million viewers making it the best new drama for the year, the highest rated show of the week, and the best performance by a pilot for ABC, since Spin City in 1996.[74]

Along with Lost, Desperate Housewives was credited to have turned around ABC’s declining fortunes.[75] Many critics agreed with Cherry’s initial comparison to the popular black comedy film American Beauty,[76] while its themes and appeal to female viewers were compared to those of the award winning TV show Sex and the City,[77] and its mysteries were said to resemble those of David Lynch’s classic TV series Twin Peaks.[78] In its first review, USA Today proclaimed the show to be "refreshingly original, bracingly adult and thoroughly delightful" and naming it to be "sort of Knots Landing meets The Golden Girls by way of Twin Peaks".[79]

Following the initial success of the show, the term "desperate housewives" became a cultural phenomenon. This warranted "real-life desperate housewives" features in TV shows, including The Dr. Phil Show,[80] and in magazines.[81][82] Among the more prominent names to declare themselves fans of the show were Oprah Winfrey,[83] who also dedicated an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show to her visit at the film set; and the former First Lady of the United States, Laura Bush, who, in a comedic speech during a dinner with White House Correspondents' Association on April 30, 2005, stated, "Ladies and gentlemen, I am a desperate housewife", referring to the show.[84]

The show ended up being the fourth most watched in the United States during the 2004–2005 season, with 23.7 million viewers each week.[85] The first season finale was watched by 30.62 million American viewers becoming the most watched episode of the series.[86]

Later years

For its second year, the show still maintained its ratings – with 22.2 million viewers, it reclaimed its position as the number four most watched show.[87] The second season's premiere was watched by 28.4 million viewers.[88] The episode drew in the second largest audience for the series in its history However, several critics started to notice a declining quality of the show’s script,[89][90] and USA Today’s Robert Bianco suggested that the part of the show getting “less good” was that showrunner Cherry had left much of the series writing in the hands of others.[91] Midway through the season executive producer Michael Edenstein left the show due to conflicts with Cherry and in May 2006, just a couple of weeks prior to the second season finale, so did Tom Spezialy.[27] After the end of the season, Cherry agreed to the second year’s weaker script and also agreed that it had been a mistake to let go too much of the show. He now stated that he was back full time, claiming that both he and the writing staff had learned from their mistakes.[92][93][94]

The critics generally agreed on the improved quality for the third year,[95][96][97] but the overall ratings fell notably from previous seasons. Due to complications from her pregnancy Marcia Cross was put on bed rest. After filming one episode from her own personal bedroom she was forced to take maternity leave with eight episodes of season three still remaining. It was predicted that the ratings would be down by over 25% since the premiere year.[98] However, for the last three episodes of the season, the rating turned somewhat, and the season ended up with 17.5 million viewers, falling from number four to number ten on the list of most watched shows.[99] While Cross's departure allowed for the much-underused Edie to have more story, fans noticed a decline in the stories during Cross's departure. Stories such as Lynette's emotional affair with restaurant manager Rick, proved unpopular. Furthermore, Susan's contrived triangle with Ian and Mike seemed tiring to many viewers, particularly in an episode where Susan is lost in the woods. Notable, however, was that the show’s rating among viewers age 18–24 increased from the previous season.[100]

For its fourth season, the series proved to have staying power.[101] The series averaged 18.2 million viewers. Ratings peaked in Episode 9 where 20.6 million viewers tuned in to see the heavily marketed tornado episode. The show once again moved back up into the top 5 highest rated programs in the 2007–2008 season, being the #1 ABC drama and beating popular medical drama Grey's Anatomy after falling behind it for the first time in the third season. It also became for the first time the #1 scripted show, beating CSI. Although ratings were down for the 5th season, along with every single scripted series on television, Desperate Housewives was still the most watched scripted series on ABC, consistently beating the other ABC flagship shows, Lost and Grey's Anatomy, although the latter is still number one in the 18–49 demographic, followed by Housewives.

Similar to the fifth season, ratings were down for the sixth season because of heavy competition in many airings, but the show still managed to remain the second most watched scripted show on ABC and the eleventh most watched scripted show of all broadcast television. The series continued to hit lower ratings, because of competition like the 67th Golden Globe Awards, 2010 Grammy Awards, 2010 Winter Olympics, and the new CBS reality series Undercover Boss. Nevertheless, the sixth season managed to finish in the top twenty overall, both in total viewers and 18-49 demographic audiences. Among scripted shows, it still ranked inside the top 10, in both categories.[102][103][104][105][106]

The seventh season premiered on September 26, 2010 and averaged 11.85 million viewers. The season saw new lows for the series reaching for the first time below 10 million viewers, and saw lows of 2.7 in the 18-49 demographic. For the first half of the season, ratings started off strong averaging 12.3 million viewers and 3.9 in the 18-49 demographic which is similar to the second half of the sixth season. However, ratings declined in the second half of the season, after two continuous episodes had to first compete against the 68th Golden Globe Awards and then the 2011 Grammy Awards. The show failed to recover back to viewer levels hit in the first half of the season, and continued to receive 9 - 10 million viewers and 2.7 - 3.1 in the 18-49 demographic. This was the first time in its history that Desperate Housewives will not place in the 20 most watched shows of the season, although it will place in the 20 most watched scripted shows.

In 2006, the American cable network Bravo launched their reality series, The Real Housewives of..., in the footsteps of the “real life desperate housewives” phenomenon.[107] That program has taken place in areas such as Orange County, California, Atlanta, and two series within the New York-Tri-State Region, within the City itself and the New Jersey suburbs. According to a survey of twenty countries conducted in 2006 by Informa Telecoms and Media, Desperate Housewives was the third most viewed TV show in the world, after fellow American series CSI: Miami and Lost.[108] During a fund raising auction for the British child charity ChildLine in December 2006, a walk-on part in Desperate Housewives had the highest bid, £17,000, beating Daniel Craig’s James Bond tuxedo from Casino Royale.[109][110]

Awards and nominations

Dana Delany, Teri Hatcher, Brenda Strong and Andrea Bowen at the 2009 GLAAD Media Awards

For its premiere season, the show was awarded six Emmy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards and two Screen Actors Guild Awards. The nominations of all of the leading actresses except Eva Longoria for both Golden Globes and Emmys received some media interest. While Longoria seemingly wasn't bothered, stating for the press that “I'm new. I just arrived. I didn’t expect at all to be in the minds of the Academy”, Marc Cherry regarded them being left out as a “horrendous error”.[111] In the end, the Emmy went to Felicity Huffman, while Teri Hatcher received the Golden Globe, as well as a Screen Actors Guild award.

The show’s second Golden Globe Award for its first year was for Best Musical or Comedy TV Series, while the other Emmys went to Kathryn Joosten for her guest role as Karen McCluskey (beating, among others, fellow cast member Lupe Ontiveros), Charles McDougall for his direction of the pilot episode, Danny Elfman’s theme music, the picture editing of the pilot, and the casting of the series. The entire cast was awarded a Screen Actors Guild Award, and Nicollette Sheridan was nominated for a Supporting Actress Golden Globe.

In 2006 the show continued to receive several nominations. It was awarded with yet another Golden Globe for Best TV Musical or Comedy Series, and all the four leading women received Golden Globe nominations, although none of them won. The cast ensemble was awarded with another SAG Award, as was Felicity Huffman. Emmys nominations included, among others, guest actress Shirley Knight and supporting actress Alfre Woodard, although none of the resulted in an actual award.

The show did continue to be nominated in 2007 – Felicity Huffman was granted an Emmy nomination for the second time, and guest actresses Laurie Metcalf and Dixie Carter also received Emmy nominations. The show, along with actresses Marcia Cross and Felicity Huffman, received Golden Globe nominations, and Huffman and the cast ensemble were also nominated for SAGs. None of the Golden Globe, Emmy or SAG nominations resulted in any actual awards.

2008 yielded the least nominations with none at the Golden Globes and only the cast being nominated at the SAGs. The show was nominated for four Emmys, including acting nods towards Polly Bergen and Kathryn Joosten for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series. Joosten won the show's seventh Emmy and first since its debut year.

Other notable awards include the 2005 People's Choice Award for Favorite New Television Drama, the Future Classic Award at the 2005 TV Land Awards, the 2006 TP de Oro for Best Foreign Series, and the Golden Nymph at the 2007 Monte-Carlo TV Festival, among others.[112]

Foreign productions and translations

On February 26, 2007, The Walt Disney Company announced that four South American versions of the show were about to begin production: one for Argentina, one for Colombia, one for Brazil and one for Ecuador.[113] Later on, the Colombian and Ecuadorean productions merged, leaving three Latin American shows:

The Argentine version, called Amas de Casa Desesperadas, began being broadcast in 2006. The first year proved successful enough for a second season to begin production.[114] The first season of the version for Colombia (RCN TV) and Ecuador (Teleamazonas), also titled Amas de Casa Desesperadas, began being broadcast in Ecuador on May 2007, and is broadcast five days a week.[115] The Brazilian version, Donas de Casa Desesperadas began being broadcast on RedeTV! in August 2007.[116]

In addition, a second US version is being developed for the Spanish television network Univision. Just as the two previous Spanish versions, it is to be named Amas de Casa Desesperadas, and the production began in July 2007.[117] The original US production, translated into Spanish, is called Mujeres Desesperadas, which literally meand 'Desperate Women', and airs on Divinity Channel.

The original US production, translated into Japanese, is called "デスパレートな妻たち" and airs on NHK.

The US production's Polish translation is called "Gotowe na wszystko" (literally means "Ready for Everything") and airs on Fox Life and Polsat, n, Comedy Central.

The US production's Greek translation is called "Νοικοκυρές Σε Απόγνωση" and airs on ANT1 and ET1, Foxlife, Lumiere TV

The US production's Chinese translation is called "絕望的主婦" and airs on China Central Television.

The US production's Estonian translation is called "Meeleheitel koduperenaised" and airs on Kanal 2, Fox Life and Sony Entertainment Television Baltic.

The US production's Hungarian translation is called "Született feleségek", literally means 'born to be housewives' and airs on TV2.

The US production's Italian translation is called "Desperate Housewives - I segreti di Wisteria Lane" and airs on Foxlife, Rai 2 the first five seasons and from sixth season it's aired on Rai 3 and Rai 4

The US production's Finnish translation is called "Täydelliset naiset" (literally means "the perfect women") and airs on Nelonen.

The US production's Lithuanian translation is called "Nusivylusios Namų Šeimininkės" and airs on TV3

The US production's Albanian translation is called "Shtëpiake të dëshpëruara" and airs on Top Channel

The US production's Romanian translation is called "Neveste disperate" and airs on Prima TV, TVR1.

The US production's Korean translation is called "위기의 주부들" and airs on KBS2.

The US production's Latvian translation is called “Bīstamās mājsaimnieces” and airs on Fox life, sometimes on TV3 Latvia, Sony Entertainment Television Baltic

The US production's Czech translation is called "Zoufalé manželky" (literally means "Desperate Wives") and airs on TV Prima and Prima LOVE.

The US production's Slovak translation is called "Zúfalé manželky" (literally means "Desperate Wives") and airs on STV1.

The US production's Slovenian translation is called "Razočarane gospodinje" (literally means "Disappointed Housewives") and airs on POP TV.

The US production's Serbian translation is called "Očajne domaćice" (literally means "Desperate Housewives") and airs on RTS, Foxlife, RTV Pink

The US production's Macedonian translation is called "Очајни Домаќинки" (literally means "Desperate Housewives") and aired on A1 TV channel until the television channel bankrupted in the summer of 2011. During the time it aired in Macedonia, the first five seasons were broadcast.

The US production's Hebrew translation is called "עקרות בית נואשות" (Akrot Ba'it No'ashot; literally means "Desperate Housewives") and airs on yes Drama/yes Drama HD and HOT V.O.D.

The US production's German translation is called "Desperate Housewives" and airs on SIXX, Pro Sieben and Sat.1 Comedy in Germany and ORF eins ORF 1 in Austria.

The US production's French translation is called "Desperate Housewives" and airs in France on Canal + and M6, in Morocco on 2M TV.

The US production's Russian translation is called "Отчаянные домохозяйки" and airs on Sony Entertainment Television Russia, Domashny, Fox Life and CTC.In Kazakhstan airs in Russian language on SET.

The US production's Swedish translation is called "Desperate Housewives" and airs on Kanal 5.

The US production's Irish translation is called "Desperate Housewives" and airs on RTÉ Two.

The US production's Arabic translation is called "ربات بيوت يائسات" and airs on MBC 4, 2M TV, OSN.

The US production's Portuguese translation is called "Donas de Casa Desesperadas" and airs on Foxlife, FOX, SIC, RedeTV!, SET.

The US production's Bulgarian translation is called "Отчаяни съпруги" and airs on bTV, TV 7, FOXlife.

The US production's Croatian translation is called "Očajne kućanice" and airs on Nova TV, RTL Televizija

The US production's Spanish translation is called "Mujeres desesperadas" and airs on La 2, TVE, SET, Canal+, FOX.

The US production's Danish translation is called "Desperate Housewives" and airs on TV 2

The US production's Icelandic translation is called "Aðþrengdar eiginkonur" and airs on RÚV.

The US production's Dutch translation is called "Desperate Housewives" and airs on NET 5, Canvas, Eén

The US production's Norwegian translation is called "Frustrerte fruer" and airs on TV 2.

The US production's Turkish translation is called "Umutsuz Evkadınları" and airs on CNBC-e, TRT 1, Kanal D, e2, Show TV.

The US production's Ukrainian translation is called "Відчайдушні домогосподарки" and airs on ICTV, Novyi Kanal, LPF TV.

Internet ratings

In its first public release of online individual TV program rankings, The Nielsen Company announced that the series had 723,000 unique viewers in December 2008. Desperate Housewives was the seventh most-pirated television show of 2009.[118]

Other media and merchandise

DVD releases

DVD Name Region 1 Region 2 Region 4 Region 5 No of discs No of episodes
The Complete First Season September 20, 2005 October 10, 2005 November 28, 2005 July 18, 2006 6 (Reg. 1, 2 and 4)
5 (Reg. 5)
The Complete Second Season – The Extra Juicy Edition August 30, 2006 November 13, 2006 October 4, 2006 June 28, 2007 7 (Reg. 2 and 4)
6 (Reg. 1 and 5)
The Complete Seasons 1–2 November 13, 2006 October 24, 2006 13 47
The Complete Third Season – The Dirty Laundry Edition September 4, 2007 November 5, 2007 October 31, 2007 December 13, 2007
(the release was cancelled)
6 23
The Complete Seasons 1–3 November 19, 2007 19 70
The Complete Fourth Season – Sizzling Secrets Edition September 2, 2008 November 3, 2008 [119] October 29, 2008 5 17
The Complete Seasons 1–4 November 3, 2008 24 87
The Complete Fifth Season – The Red Hot Edition September 1, 2009 November 9, 2009[120] October 21, 2009 7 24
The Complete Seasons 1–5 November 9, 2009 31 111
The Complete Sixth Season – The All Mighty Edition[121] September 21, 2010[122] October 4, 2010[123] October 20, 2010[124] 5 (Reg. 1) 23
The Complete Seasons 1–6 October 4, 2010[123] October 20, 2010[125] 36 (Reg. 1)
37 (Reg. 4)
The Complete Seventh Season – Wild, Wild Wisteria Edition[126] August 30, 2011[126] October 31, 2011[127] 5 23
The Complete Seasons 1–7 October 31, 2011[128] 41 157


In 2005, UK company Re:creation published Desperate Housewives Dirty Laundry Game, a board game based on season three of Desperate Housewives.[129] Players attempt to guess their opponents' secrets by answering trivia questions, while keeping clues to their own secrets concealed.

2006 saw the release of two video games: Buena Vista Games released the sim computer game Desperate Housewives: The Game, featuring an original storyline spanning 12 episodes.[130] The game is set on Wisteria Lane, but the player does not play as any of the housewives, although they frequently appear.

A couple of months later, Gameloft released a mobile game based on the series.[131] “The inspiration for Gameloft’s take on Desperate Housewives comes from the most unlikely place, too – the original Mario Party on the Nintendo 64.”[132]

Soundtrack and literature

In September 2005, Hollywood Records released a CD (distributed by Universal Music), Music from and Inspired by Desperate Housewives, featuring music inspired by the series, as well as sound clips taken from the first season of the show. The songs included have been described as promoting “girl power”, and among the artists appearing – all being female – were LeAnn Rimes, Gloria Estefan and Shania Twain.[133] Controversially, no originally composed music from the show is included on the CD.

Two books have been officially released within the Desperate Housewives franchise. In September 2005 ABC’s sister company Hyperion Books released Desperate Housewives: Behind Closed Doors (ISBN 978-1-4013-0826-1), a companion to the first season of the show, written by the production team behind the series.[134] One year later, in October 2006, Hyperion published The Desperate Housewives Cookbook – Juicy Dishes and Saucy Bits (ISBN 978-1-4013-0277-1).[135] In addition, official wall calendars, featuring shots taken from the series, were published by Andrews McMeel Publishing for 2006, 2007 and 2008.[136]

Four unauthorized books written from different points of view were released in 2006. Delicious Housewives, A Novel of Erotica, by International best-selling author Tamarias Tyree (ISBN 978-0-930865-79-5), from RSVP Press, is an erotic parody of the popular TV series featuring the housewives' sexual misadventures which eventually lead them to an appearance on the Jerry Springer Show... Reading ‘Desperate Housewives’: Beyond the White Picket Fence (ISBN 978-1-84511-220-2), from I.B. Tauris, is an academic look at the show by film studies lecturers Janet McCabe and Kim Akassm,[137] Welcome to Wisteria Lane: On America’s Favorite Desperate Housewives (ISBN 978-1-932100-79-2), published by BenBella Books, consists of seventeen essays written from a feminist perspective,[138] and in Chalice Press’ Not-so-desperate: Fantasy, Fact And Faith on Wisteria Lane (ISBN 0-8272-2513-X) author Shawnthea Monroe is giving a Christian interpretation of the show.[139] Also, following the “real life desperate housewives” phenomenon, several books have been released dealing with life strategies for contemporary women.

Fashion dolls

In December 2006 it was announced that the characters of Bree, Gabrielle, Edie, Susan and Lynette were to be made into 16 inches (41 cm) tall fashion dolls, produced by Madame Alexander.[140] In 2007 they were released in a limited edition of 300 pieces each.[141] A perfume was also released, named Forbidden Fruit.

Another Desperate Housewife

In conjunction with season six, Marc Cherry was commissioned to write eight "mini-episodes" entitled Another Desperate Housewife. The episodes were written after the previous season's extensive product placement proved unpopular with the fans.[citation needed] The mini-episodes were written to advertise mobile phone company Sprint[citation needed] and involve just three characters. The two main characters are Stephanie (played by Rebecca Staab) and Lance (played by David Chisum) who have moved into the former house of Edie Britt after her death. The third character, Elsa, was Stephanie's friend. It is eventually revealed that Lance and Elsa have been having an affair. Stephanie finds out and tells Lance to break it off. Elsa suggests killing Stephanie, but Lance gets a text message indicating he's seeing another woman and a furious Elsa shoots him. In truth, Stephanie had sent the message herself. The final mini-episode has Elsa being arrested and Stephanie attracted to a handsome policeman at the scene. Each episode ends with a Mary Alice-like narration saying things such as "This is suspicion on the Now Network" or "This is betrayal on the Now Network."


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