After eight years of mysterious neighbors, convoluted revenge schemes, velour tracksuits, weddings, divorces and deaths, “Desperate Housewives” is headed for the great suburb in the sky.
The ABC drama will end with a two-hour series finale, this Sunday, May 13. The program launched the comedic soap genre, paving the way for shows ranging from “Pretty Little Liars” to “Ugly Betty.” In fact, its blend of satire and melodramatic plot twists has become such a common television staple that it is difficult to remember how groundbreaking the series was when it debuted.
Remember what a watercooler moment it was when it turned out that Mike (James Denton) was Zack Young’s biological father? Or Bree (Marcia Cross) abandoned her son in the middle of nowhere? xfinityTV is bidding a fond farewell to Wisteria Lane by counting down the “Housewives’s” most shocking moments.
Rex Cries When He Ejaculates (Watch Episode 103 “Pretty Little Picture” Here)
It was a line that was quoted around watercoolers — and on social networks by those early adapters who were on MySpace in 2005. The show’s third episode established that it was not just a satire of suburbia, it was a show that would break network television taboos. When then ultra prim and proper Bree started seeing a marriage counselor, she was terrified that if anyone found out it would destroy her image as the “perfect” wife and mother. When her husband Rex (Steven Culp) chose to tell all their friends during a dinner party, Bree calmly retaliated by sharing the information that Rex cries when he ejaculates. It was shocking, hilarious, and revealed volumes about the tough, dark woman that hid behind a Martha Stewart facade.
Mary Alice Committed Suicide Because She Was a Killer (Watch Episode 123 “One Wonderful Day” Here)
Mary Alice’s (Brenda Strong) suicide in the show’s pilot episode propelled the first season. Everyone on Wisteria Lane and in America wanted to know what drove the seemingly happy housewife to take her own life. It turned out that she had a trunk full of secrets, a blackmailer and a crazy husband, Paul (Mark Moses), who killed a neighbor who got too close to the truth. The Season 1 finale finally revealed the whole sordid story. When Mike kidnapped Paul at gunpoint, he admitted that he and Mary Alice bought their son, Zach, from a drug addict before moving to Fairview. When the baby’s biological mother showed up years later and demanded that she get her baby back, Mary Alice killed her and hid the body. The surprise twist: Zach was Mike’s biological son.
Bree Abandons Her Son Andrew (Watch Episode 221 “I Know Things Now” Here)
Bree and her son Andrew (Shawn Pyfrom) always had a tumultuous relationship. Not only was he devious and manipulative, but Bree had trouble accepting that he was gay. After Andrew was sent to a juvenile boot camp, he blackmailed Bree about letting George the psycho pharmacist die, threatened to accuse her of sexual abuse, and slept with her boyfriend, so it was understandable that Bree would be at the end of her rope. Still, it was a jaw-dropping moment when Bree, who prided herself on being a great mother, drove Andrew to a gas station and abandoned him after telling him she no longer loved him unconditionally. It’s even more shocking that, in the show’s final season, the two now have a relatively close, loving relationship.
The Show Jumps Ahead Four Years (Watch Episode 418 “Free” Here)
“Desperate Housewives” was not the first show to leap forward in time between seasons. “One Tree Hill” and “Battlestar Galactica” had already done it. But when Season 4 ended with Katherine (Dana Delaney) shooting her abusive ex-husband in self-defense, then jumping forward in time four years, it was a huge surprise. All of the Housewives were radically transformed. Bree went from homemaker to famous cook book author. Her estranged son Andrew was now her assistant, and she had reunited with her husband Orson after his prison sentence. Gaby had gotten frumpy, lost her fortune and gained two children. Lynette’s (Felicity Huffman) children were now troubled teens and Susan was with a new man, the younger Jackson. It was a clever way to turn the entire show on its ear.
Edie Dies – And Sues (Watch Episode 518 “A Spark to Pierce the Dark” Here)
The fifth Housewife, Edie (Nicolette Sheridan), was only supposed to be a supporting role. However, the sexy real estate agent who flirted with every man she met was a breakout character. She was both an antagonist and a friend to the other women. So it was a huge (and literal) shock when, while embroiled in a juicy storyline involving her mysterious new husband, she crashed her car into a telephone phone and was killed when she was electrocuted by a severed wire. It was surprising that a major character’s death happened not as a part of one of the show’s carefully crafted mysteries, but as the result of a freak accident three quarters of the way through the season. Edie’s death created a real-life plot twist, when Sheridan later sued ABC claiming that she was abruptly written off as retaliation for complaining to the network that the show’s creator Marc Cherry assaulted her. In a twist worthy of the show, a mistrial was declared when the jury could not agree on a verdict.
Paul Young Returns (Watch Episode 623 “I Guess This Is Goodbye” Here)
After his villainous turn in Season 1, Paul got his comeuppance in Season 2 when he was framed for Felicia’s murder and went to prison. He briefly reappeared in Season 3, when an amnesiac Mike ended up in prison with him, then seemingly was forgotten. But serving time for a murder he did not commit seemed to be karmic payback for getting away with the one that he did. So it was quite a shock when, in the final scene of the last episode of Season 6, viewers learned that Paul had not only been released from prison but had rented Mike and Susan’s house. Welcome back to Wisteria Lane, Paul.
Carlos Kills Gaby’s Stepfather — and Serves Dessert (Watch Episode 723 “Come on Over for Dinner” Here)
The seventh-season finale seemed unusually lighthearted. The whole episode centered around a progressive dinner party in which the residents of Wisteria Lane moved from house to house for each course, in a highly improbable celebration of neighborhood unity. After seven years of disasters, nobody else who lives on Wisteria Lane should want anything to do with the Housewives. The night grew far more complicated when Carlos (Ricardo Chavira) caught Gaby’s abusive stepfather attacking her and hit him over the head with a candlestick, killing him. It was a clear case of self-defense but instead of calling the police, Gaby and Carlos decided to hide the body inside a trunk that was part of the dessert display and let the whole neighborhood dine at the crime scene. It was shocking both because of the evening’s sudden turn for the violent and because Carlos and Gaby stupidly decided to involve all their friends in a cover up of the death, making a justifiable homicide seem like murder.
Mike Delfino Dies! (Watch Episode 816 “Women and Death” Here)
From the very first episode, sensitive plumber Mike and scatterbrained single mom Susan (Teri Hatcher) were “Desperate Housewives” franchise romance. They overcame obstacles, including Mike’s criminal past, Susan’s clumsiness and insecurities, long-lost children, ex-spouses, comas, amnesia, drug addiction and financial problems, to marry twice and have a child. So it was one of the show’s biggest shocks ever when, in the final season, Mike was murdered by a loan shark who he had previously tangled with in an effort to protect his new neighbor Ben. Who would have imagined that Mike would be killed before the finale, especially over a petty dispute that barely involved him? Or that the plot twist that producers had worked hard to keep secret would be spoiled by testimony in Nicolette Sheridan’s lawsuit?