On warm and welcoming Wisteria Lane, it’s a good neighbor day like any other. The husbands collect the mail on the doormat and the wives prepare breakfast. Nobody suspects the secrets that lurk in the shadows; secrets that have to do with Mary Alice Young‘s mysterious suicide.

Welcome to the sparkling and spiteful atmosphere of Desperate Housewives.

Best friends

Lynette and Tom Scavo are always busy with their life, struggling to find the balance between children and work. Model Gabrielle‘s days are getting boring next to her husband Carlos Solis, always out for business. Bree Van De Kamp is busy showing the world the best picture of her family while ignoring her children’s problems. Susan Mayer is facing the difficulties of a divorce.

Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross, and Eva Longoria in Desperate Housewives (2004)

Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross, and Eva Longoria in Desperate Housewives (2004) © IMDB

Yet, despite the fractures that threaten their little worlds, there is always poker together with a nice glass of wine. The perfect time to discuss, ask friends for advice, and support each other.

But with the suicide of Mary Alice, the one who united them in that deep friendship, a chasm of conjectures, family problems, and inner burdens opens up. From that moment their lives will take on dark shades. The past will come knocking on the door and the future will become uncertain.

Between quarrels, misunderstandings, betrayals, and mysterious new arrivals in Wisteria Lane, the four friends will have to keep a secret that will risk breaking them forever.

Provincial life

It was October 2004 when the first episode of Desperate Housewives was released. Between work and family life that surround the provincial existence of the protagonists, the success of the series is not long in coming. When the routine gets boring, gossiping about the neighborhood becomes a favorite pastime for many people. And so, promising intrigue and subterfuge, Desperate Housewives broke through the collective imagination.

In affluent provincial neighborhoods, there are many good neighborly rules to respect, but each of us, more than once, has wished to be able to break the fine line of kindness that separates what we say from what we think. The slight balance that binds us to others can be broken very easily, as Desperate Housewives demonstrates.

Yet, neighbors are the first we need when problems come. They are the first to ask for help, the first to call the police in case of need, the first on hand to save our lives.

Therefore, do not create fire around yourselves. Always offer your kindest smile and hope that one day, if necessary, they will know how to keep a secret.

What are husbands for?

Marcia Cross in Desperate Housewives (2004) © IMDB

Driven by the friendship that binds their wives, Carlos Solis, Tom Scavo, and Mike Delfino inevitably become friends. Within the show, they become three prominent characters, flanked by Orson Hodge, the second husband of Bree Van De Kamp.

Carlos: strong and decisive. Tom: attentive father and stubborn husband. Mike: good, sensitive, and brave. And Orson: elegant and shrewd. But what are these figures for in the show? What role do they really play? Safe backs of their wives, they are sometimes a source of disappointment, anxieties, and trouble.

They contrast very well with their better half and offer a new point of view. Often, they help to underline the defects of marriage, the difficulties of married life, and all those situations that creep between husband and wife, threatening their bond. The ups and downs they face lead them on different paths and then push them to find each other again.

The wisdom of the elders

Karen McCluskey (played by Kathryn Joosten, who died in 2012) and Roy Bender (played by Orson Bean, who died in 2020) represent one of the older couples in the show. Often taken as a point of reference, they offer their advice based on the experience of a lifetime. In the monotony of retirement, they love to gossip and investigate the lives of their neighbors.

Their slightly gruff but kindhearted figures are the opposite of the nosy Martha Huber and her crazy and cunning sister, Felicia Tilman. They will be in part to move the series, creating intriguing subplots that capture the attention of the public.

Eva Longoria in Desperate Housewives (2004)

Eva Longoria in Desperate Housewives (2004) © IMDB

As in the case of Roy and Karen, advanced age is often the bearer of wisdom, but sometimes, driven by desperation, it is a messenger of madness, as in the case of Felicia.

How to overcome crises

When life goes smoothly, boredom can turn out to be a bad counselor. This is what happens to Gabrielle Solis, who will lead to the destruction of her marriage, before being able to really understand what is important in her life and retrace her steps.

For Bree, the breaking point will be alcohol. Pushed to raise the bottle from loneliness, she will have to hit rock bottom before being able to take back her destiny. Basking in defeat is all too easy; the hardest part is climbing the mountain of retaliation.

Mike’s death will tear Susan’s heart apart, and she will have to learn to manage anger and channel it into new feelings in order to prepare to raise her child on her own. And Lynette will have to deal with cancer, an invisible monster that will consume almost all of her energy, but thanks to which she will discover how strong she can be.

What does this show teach? Between funny teasing, dangerous friendships, and somewhat twisted family dynamics, Desperate Housewives teaches you never to give up in the face of difficulties. By drawing strength from the friends around us, we can overcome any obstacle. By entrusting ourselves to the person with whom we have chosen to share our lives, we can find the courage to be better and to leave problems behind.

For this, Desperate Housewives joins the Old But Gold column. It is good to be suspicious of the neighbors, but perhaps getting to know them better may prove to be the first step in a friendship that will last a lifetime.