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Desperate Housewives is an Americanmarker television comedy-drama series created by Marc Cherry, who also serves as show runner, and produced by ABC Studios and Cherry Productions. Executive producers, as of the fourth season, are 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.

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 Parker as Gabrielle Solis. Brenda Strong narrates the show as the deceased Mary Alice Young, appearing sporadically in flashbacks or dreams. The show is inspired, to an extent, by the 1999 film American Beauty.

Since its premiere on ABC on October 3, 2004, the show has been well received by the critics as well as the audience. The show is a multiple Emmy, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild award winner, and in April 2007 it was reported to be the most popular show in its demographic worldwide, with an audience of approximately 120 million.


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. Finally, two new executives at ABC, Lloyd Braun and Susan Lyne, chose to greenlight it. Shortly thereafter, Disney had both Braun and Lyne fired, following their approval of another new drama series: Lost.

The ABC executives weren’t initially satisfied with the name of the new show, suggesting Wisteria Lane and The Secret Lives of Housewives instead, but 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. 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 their 2004–2005 lineup, with Desperate Housewives in the Sunday, 9:00-10:00 p.m., ET slot, 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.

Desperate Housewives is produced by creator Marc Cherry (Cherry Productions), Austin Bagley and Touchstone Television (Fall 2004-Spring 2007), which is now ABC Studios (Fall 2007-present).

On February 11, 2008, ABC picked up Desperate Housewives for the 2008-09 television season. The fifth season of the series debuted on Sunday, September 28, 2008.

On April 23, 2009, ABC picked up Desperate Housewives for a 6th season for the 2009-2010 television season. The sixth season premiered on Sunday, September 27, 2009.

Production crew

In addition to Marc 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 for the show, left his previous position as writer and executive producer for Dead Like Me to join the Desperate Housewives crew. 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. As a result, Edelstein left the show mid-season, and at the end of the season, so did Spezialy. For the third year, Cherry was joined by award winning writer and producer Joe Keenan, of Frasier fame, and telefilm producer George W. Perkins, who had been on the Desperate Housewives crew 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. Replacing him as second-in-command to Cherry and 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 cartoon series Rugrats as well 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. Both had also worked on Cherry’s previous show The Crew in 1995, as well as on the sitcom Cybill.Larry Shaw and David Grossman have, as of the first four seasons, been the most prominent directors, together directing more than half of the series’ episodes.


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. The set for Wisteria Lane, consisting mainly of facades but also of some proper houses, is located on the Universal Studios Hollywoodmarker back lot. It is referred to by film crews as Colonial Streetmarker, and has been used for several motion pictures and television shows since the mid 1940s. Productions to have been filmed here includes, among others, 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, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Ladykillers and Ghost Whisperer. Interestingly from the street view of Bree's house the property appears double fronted, with rooms on either side of the front door. However, on the inside there is only one room off to the right and a set of external doors on the left. 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.

Opening sequence

The initial idea for the show opening sequence was Cherry’s own, and after having asked sixteen companies to come up with suggestions how to best realize it, the producers finally hired Hollywoodmarker-based yU+co to provide the final version. According to the yU+co’s official website, the idea behind the sequence is “to evoke the show's quirky spirit and playful flaunting of women’s traditional role in society”. The images featured are taken from eight pieces of art, portraying domesticity and male-female relations through the ages

The first image shows Lucas Cranach the Elder’s painting Adam and Eve. A snake passes an apple to Eve before another, larger, apple, with the words ‘Desperate Housewives’ written on it, falls on Adam. Then follows the tomb paintings of Queen Nefertari of Egyptmarker, the Great Royal Wife of Ramesses the Great. An animation of Queen Nefertari is seen standing within her tomb being overwhelmed by what appear to be countless children surrounding her. Next appearing is The Arnolfini Portrait by Jan van Eyck painted in 1434 – Giovanni Arnolfini is seen eating a banana and throwing the skin on the floor, leaving it for his wife to sweep it away. The painting American Gothic by Grant Wood from 1930 then follows, and the farmer is shown smiling as he is touched on the chin by a pin up as his apparently disapproving wife frowns in front of a tin of canned sardines. The can appears on a kitchen work surface when the World War II poster Am I Proud! is shown, depicting a woman holding cans and jars including Andy Warhol’s Campbell's Soup Cans. The soup can then falls into the hand of a man featured in pop art work by Robert Dale, Couple Arguing and Romantic Couple. After the woman in this pictures is seen crying and giving her male companion a black eye, the image folds away, and the tree from Cranach’s painting reappears with the snake wrapped around it and the four main characters Bree, Lynette, Susan and Gabrielle appearing under the tree, each catching an apple. There is one variation for the opening theme (For DVDs), where Susan is in the Egyptian art. Lynette's in the can of sardines which close, resembling her face. Bree caught an apple, and passes it to Gabrielle. The music for the openings is composed by Danny Elfman, and has been awarded both an Emmy Award and the BMI TV Music Award. In 2005 it was included on the album Music from and Inspired by Desperate Housewives. When an episode is running too long, only the first sequence (the falling apple) is kept. From "Now You Know" and 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.


In addition to the theme composed by Danny Elfman, the series underscore music, composed by Steve Jablonsky, defines the overall sound of the show. The much imitated music creates a musical counterpoint to the writing style and co-exists with the scenes as one of the most identifiable musical styles in television today. The score is electronic-based, but every scoring session incorporates a live string ensemble that adds a certain intangible warmth to the score. Jablonsky incorporates recurring themes for events and characters into the score. He has been shaping the musical palette for the show since the 2nd episode of the first season. Hollywood Records produced the first soundtrack album, Music from and Inspired by Desperate Housewives distributed by Universal Records, featuring music inspired by the series. Several of those songs have since been used in subsequent seasons.

Housewives's unique style combined with the heavy dialogue and quick-fire writing style limit the amount of popular music used in the series. The series' music supervisor, David Sibley, works closely with the producers to seamlessly 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" to jog Mike's memory, and Lynette's memorable rendition of "Boogie Shoes" atop a bar, several characters have been accomplished musicians, such as Betty Applewhite (a concert pianist) and Dylan Mayfair (a prodigy cellist), all requiring carefully planned training of the actors and preparation of the music. The often eclectic approach to music has created many water cooler moments in the show, among them, Orson's ex-wife Alma singing along with Cole Porter's period recording of "Let's Misbehave" as she drugs him in order to conceive his child, and George, the town pharmacist singing "Don't Give Up On Us" on Bree's front lawn as she takes pot shots at him with a shotgun.

The future

In August 2009, Marc Cherry said that Desperate Housewives will be on television for a few more years. The show's creator said that the series still "has a lot of life left in it", though he will soon take on a limited role behind the scenes. 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 the programme had been revitalised 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".

Marc Cherry has signed a new two-year deal with ABC that will keep Desperate Housewives on the air until the year 2013. But there’s no confirmation on whether the show’s main characters—played by Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross and Eva Longoria Parker—will want to go that long. They’re all only committed to the 2010-11 season, the show's seventh.

Series synopses and episodes

The first season began its original broadcast on October 3, 2004 and introduces the four central characters of the show: Susan Mayer, Lynette Scavo, Bree Van de Kamp and Gabrielle Solis, and 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 second season began broadcasting on September 25, 2005 and its central mystery is that of new neighbor Betty Applewhite, who moved in 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 to keep growing to extremes. Susan’s love life gets even more complicated as her ex-husband gets engaged to Edie, who has been promoted to the role of fifth lead, 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, who will become Bree's husband in the next season.

The third season began broadcasting on September 24, 2006. In the third season, Bree marries Orson Hodge, 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's suffering from amnesia, and Susan moves on to a handsome Englishman whose wife is 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 began broadcasting on September 30, 2007, and its main mystery revolves around new neighbor Katherine Mayfair and her family, who returns to Wisteria Lane after twelve years away, whose daughter remembers nothing about living on Wisteria Lane. Also, 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 fifth season began broadcasting on September 28, 2008, with the time period jumping 5 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, in a shocking twist, 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 have to struggle with their two daughters, Juanita and Celia, as Carlos's sight returns. Bree and Orson are having marriage problems because she is so focused on her career, and Orson begins to steal from neighbors as a coping mechanism. As a result, Orson is in the street when Edie is racing away from her house after her discovery that Dave is a madman plotting to kill Mike and all those he loves; Edie swerves to avoid hitting him and crashes into an electrical pole, then exits the car, only to die of electrocution before she can tell anyone that Dave moved to Fairview in order to get revenge on the person who killed his wife and daughter. 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 the sign 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. This season featured the show's 100th episode, revolving around Eli Scruggs (played by Beau Bridges) a handyman who had an important input in all of the ladies' lives. This episode featured 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 started on Sunday, September 27, 2009 at 9pm. It premiered with the wedding that season 5 ended with and showed Mike marrying Susan which Katherine finds very difficult, Lynette struggled with the concept of having another set of twins, Gaby doesn't want Ana to make the same mistakes that she did and Bree starts her affair with Karl.

Disaster Episodes

Since the third season, there has been a particular disaster or major conflict episode (midseason) that involves the whole cast in one way or the other.

Season Episode Number Episode Episode synopsis
7 (54)
Carolyn Bigsby, Orson's former neighbor, confronts her husband in a Supermarket questioning him about an affair, when she fails to shoot her husband, Carolyn holds the supermarket hostage which includes Lynette Scavo and Nora Huntington. After hearing the two bicker about involving Tom and Kayla, Carolyn fatally shoots at Nora in the chest and Lynette in the arm. In a struggle with other hostages, Carolyn is shot in the head by one of the them, dying.
9 (79)
Something's Coming
A tornado tears through Wisteria Lane putting many of the cast in danger. In all the chaos, Victor Lang dies after trying to kill Carlos. Adam Mayfair's stalker, Sylvia, also dies in the tornado, before Kayla discovers her body in a tree, along with Ida Greenberg, who was in Karen McCluskey's basement with the Scavos. The tornado destroys Karen's house and severely damages the neighborhood.
8 (95)
City on Fire
The men of Wisteria Lane (Dave Williams, Tom Scavo, Carlos Solis, Orson Hodge, and Mike Delfino) prepare to play at the annual "Battle of the Bands" concert at The White Horse Club, but a fire breaks out backstage which prompts many of the cast to escape. In the aftermath, Dr. Heller, an acquaintance of Dave Williams, is found dead with Porter Scavo to blame for the fire.
10 (121)
Boom Crunch
An upcoming episode of Desperate Housewives which revolves around a plane crash during the holiday season, impacting the lives of everyone on Wisteria Lane, and, in the process, killing loved ones.

Cast and characters

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.

The thirteen starring actors for season one included four leading actresses: Teri Hatcher as Susan Mayer, a divorced mother with a sense for 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 Parker 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 until Episode 5.23. 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.

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’s 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 suicide 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 begun. 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.

For the fourth season, after having appeared as a guest star during season three, Rachel Fox was added to the main cast playing Kayla Huntington, 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 Nathan Fillion. Joining the 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. Actor Gary Cole joined the cast as a recurring character in the eleventh episode and played the ex-husband of Katherine Mayfair, Dana Delany's character.

Neal McDonough joined the cast of Desperate Housewives as a series regular in season 5. He is the new husband of Nicollette Sheridan's character, Edie Britt.Max and Charlie Carver have been cast as Porter and Preston Scavo, Joshua Moore as Parker Scavo and Kendall Applegate as Penny Scavo. Gail O'Grady, Peter Onorati and Gale Harold have also been confirmed to join the show as recurring characters. Storylines involving Gale Harold's character needed to be placed on hold after he sustained injuries in a motorcycle accident. Madison De La Garza and Daniella Baltodano also joined the cast as Juanita and Celia Solis (respectively), the young daughters of Carlos and Gabrielle Solis.

The show also features a large number of recurring guest stars, the most prominent being Kathryn Joosten and Pat Crawford Brown as elderly neighbors Mrs. Karen McCluskey and Mrs. Ida Greenberg. Kathryn Joosten had just been promoted to the regular cast in season 6. Others include Christine Estabrook as Mrs. Martha Huber, blackmailer of Mary Alice Young, sister of Felicia Tilman (Harriet Sansom Harris) and murder victim of Paul Young in season one and one episode of season five, Dougray Scott as Ian Hainsworth, Susan's season three love interest; Harriet Sansom Harris as Felicia Tilman, in search for her sister’s murderer during the first two seasons; Ryan Carnes as Justin, Andrew's boyfriend during season one and two; John Slattery as Victor Lang, former mayor of Fairview and Gabrielle's husband; Bob Gunton as Noah Taylor, the wealthy father of Mike's deceased fiancée and the biological grandfather of Zach, appearing during the first two seasons; and Gail O'Grady as Anne, a real estate agent who is having an affair with an underage Porter.


Eva Longoria Parker was the first reported to have landed a starring role, on February 9, 2004,followed by Felicity Huffman (February 10),Teri Hatcher (February 18),James Denton and Ricardo Antonio Chavira (February 26),Marcia Cross (March 1),Sheryl Lee, Mark Moses, and Cody Kasch (March 3),Andrea Bowen and Kyle Searles (March 4),and Michael Reilly Burke (March 8).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.

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. While Lee was turned down after producers rethought the character of Mary Alice, Searles was replaced because of the lack of chemistry between him and his onscreen lover, Eva Longoria. 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.

Andrea Bowen is returning to Desperate Housewives as Julie Mayer.

Shawn Pyfrom has quit his regular role as Andrew Van De Kamp and will only make guest appearances in the next season.

Marc Cherry announced that Jesse Metcalfe will reprise his role as John Rowland in only two episodes of season six.

Orson Bean has joined the cast as Mrs. McCluskey's love interest, Roy Bender.


Name Episodes Years
Mary Alice Young (Narrator) 1.01 – present 2004 - present
Susan Mayer 1.01 – present 2004 - present
Lynette Scavo 1.01 – present 2004 - present
Bree Van de Kamp 1.01 – present 2004 - present
Gabrielle Solis 1.01 – present 2004 - present
Edie Britt 1.015.23 2004 - 2009
Betty Applewhite 1.222.24 2005 - 2006
Katherine Mayfair 4.01 – present 2007 - present
Angie Bolen 6.01 – present 2009 - present

Note: Teri Hatcher (Susan Mayer), Felicity Huffman (Lynette Scavo), and Eva Longoria Parker (Gabrielle Solis) are the only three housewives to have appeared in every episode. Marcia Cross (Bree Van De Kamp) is absent in episodes 3.16 to 3.22 because of her pregnancy. Nicollette Sheridan (Edie Britt) has been absent for eight episodes in Season 1, six in Season 2, two episodes in Season 4, four in Season 5, and departed the principal cast at the close of the fifth season. Alfre Woodard (Betty Applewhite) guest-stars in two episodes in season 1, is absent for seven episodes during season 2, and departs the cast at the close of the second season. Dana Delany (Katherine Mayfair) has been absent in one episode in both the fourth and fifth seasons, since joining the cast at the start of the fourth season. Finally, Brenda Strong (Mary Alice Young) typically serves as the show's narrator, only making occasional onscreen appearances. She is absent as the narrator in episodes 3.16, when Steven Culp (Rex Van de Kamp) narrates (although Strong is still heard during the "Previously on Desperate Housewives" montage), and 5.19, when Sheridan is the narrator, and Strong is not heard at all.


Each season has a mystery which focuses on one particular character.

Season Main Mystery Mystery synopsis
Mary Alice Young Committed suicide after being threatened with blackmail; was attempting to cover-up the fact that she murdered her adopted son's biological mother.
Betty Applewhite Kept her mentally disabled son locked up in the basement under the belief that he had murdered a girl; later discovered that her other son was the real murderer and had framed his brother.
Orson Hodge Orson and his mother arrived on Wisteria Lane; reports claimed that he had murdered his first wife and then his mistress; it was later revealed that his first wife was still alive, and that it was actually his mother that had murdered his mistress.
Katherine Mayfair When Katherine arrived on Wisteria Lane, her daughter - Dylan - questioned her paternity; when she believed that her father was murdered by her mother, she researched; later, it was revealed that he was alive and she had left him following an abusive relationship and the accidental death of the real Dylan.
Dave Williams Edie Britt returned to Wisteria Lane after five years with new husband Dave. Unknown to Edie, Dave has an agenda: he wishes to take revenge on Mike Delfino, who he believes is responsible for the fatal car accident that killed his late wife and young daughter. It was later revealed that Susan caused the car accident.
Angie Bolen Angie unzips her dress, to reveal a horrible scar on her back. Marc Cherry revealed that the sixth season mystery will pay homage to a classic Dallas storyline. He added: "What we've planned is an interesting mystery storyline involving one of our beloved characters. It's a 'Who shot J.R.?' kind of storyline".



Season Timeslot (EDT) Season Premiere Season Finale TV Season Rank Viewers

(in millions)
1 Sunday 9:00 P.M. October 3, 2004 May 22, 2005 2004-2005 #4 23.7
2 Sunday 9:00 P.M. September 25, 2005 May 21, 2006 2005-2006 #4 22.2
3 Sunday 9:00 P.M. September 24, 2006 May 20, 2007 2006-2007 #10 17.5
4 Sunday 9:00 P.M. September 30, 2007 May 18, 2008 2007-2008 #6 17.9
5 Sunday 9:00 P.M. September 28, 2008 May 17, 2009 2008-2009 #9 15.6
6 Sunday 9:00 P.M. September 27, 2009 May 2010 2009-2010 #12 13.9

The 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.

Along with Lost, Desperate Housewives was credited to have turned around ABC’s declining fortunes. Many critics agreed with Cherry’s initial comparison to the popular black comedy film American Beauty, while its themes and appeal to female viewers were compared to those of the award winning TV show Sex and the City, and its mysteries were said to resemble those of David Lynch’s classic TV series Twin Peaks. 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.

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,and in magazines. Among the more prominent names to declare themselves fans of the show were Oprah Winfrey, 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.

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. The first season finale was watched by 30.62 million American viewers.

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. However, several critics started to notice a declining quality of the show’s script,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. Mid 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. After the end of the season, Cherry would agree 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.

The critics generally agreed on the improved quality for the third year,but the overall ratings fell notably from previous seasons. Due to complications from her pregnancy Marcia Cross was put on permanent bed rest. After filming one episode from her own personal bedroom she was forced to take maternity leave with six episodes of season three still remaining. It was predicted that the ratings would be down by over 25% since the premiere year. 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.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.

For its fourth season, the series proved to have staying power. 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 for the first time in 2 years. 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 demo, followed by Housewives.

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. That program has taken place in areas such as Orange County, Californiamarker, Atlantamarker, and two series within the New Yorkmarker-Tri-State Region, within the City itself and the New Jerseymarker 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. During a fund raising auction for the Britishmarker 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.

Awards and nominations

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 Parker for both Golden Globes and Emmys received some media interest. While Longoria Parker seemingly didn’t bother, 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”. 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.

Screen adaptations

On February 26, 2007, The Walt Disney Company announced that four South American versions of the show were about to begin production: one for Argentinamarker, one for Colombiamarker, one for Brazilmarker and one for Ecuadormarker. 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. The first season of the version for Colombia (RCN TV) and Ecuador (Teleamazonas), also entitled Amas de Casa Desesperadas, began being broadcast in Ecuador on May 2007, and is broadcast five days a week. The Brazilian version, Donas de Casa Desesperadas began being broadcast on RedeTV! in August 2007.

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.

International broadcasts

The show is broadcast in many countries worldwide.

  • In Australia, the Seven Network has aired all five seasons. All seasons have been in primetime slots.

  • In the Netherlands, NET5 has aired all four seasons, with the fifth season to conclude at the end of 2009. All seasons have been in primetime slots.

  • In New Zealandmarker, TV2 has aired all five seasons. All episodes have have aired at the primetime of 8:30pm on Mondays.

  • In the United Kingdom it is broadcast on Channel 4 and E4, and on S4C in Wales. The first season was broadcast on 5 January 2005 on Channel 4. Episodes are shown first on E4 on a Sunday night at 10pm, followed by its main showing on Wednesdays on Channel 4 at 10pm, followed by a repeat at the earlier time of 9pm on E4 the following Sunday. Both Channel 4 and E4 have timeshift services of one hour. Therefore, each episode is shown a total of six times by the company.

  • Times on S4C in Wales are much later and vary due to Welsh language programming being broadcast in prime-time. Episodes generally air between 11pm and 2am. Viewers in Wales who have digital television can watch the Channel 4 and E4 showings, and following digital switchover due to complete in Wales in 2009, episodes will cease to be broadcast on S4C as the whole of Wales will have access to Channel 4.

  • Irelandmarker is the first country outside the US to receive new episodes. Episodes are played at 9.55pm on Tuesdays, 2 days after the ABC original US showing. Latest episodes can be watched by viewers in Ireland online.

  • In South Africa, Desperate Housewives is broadcast on pay-TV channel M-Net on Thursdays, from 20:30 to 21:30. SABC3 broadcasts older seasons.

Country / Region Name Television Network Premiere Year Dubbing / Subtitles
Arab World Desperate Housewives
Dubai One


Fox Series


Arabic subtitles
Armeniamarker Հուսահատ տնտեսուհիները (English: Desperate Housewives) (only two seasons)
Armenian dubbing
Austriamarker Desperate Housewives
German dubbing and English (second audio program)
Desperate Housewives
Sony Entertainment Television Brazil


Portuguese subtitles

Portuguese dubbing
Отчаяни съпруги
Bulgarian dubbing
Beautés Désespérées
Radio-Canada )
French dubbing
绝望的主妇/欲乱绝情妻 (English: Desperate Housewives)
Standard Mandarin dubbing
Cyprusmarker Νοικοκυρές Σε Απόγνωση (English: Desperate Housewives)


Greek subtitles
Zoufalé Manželky
TV Prima
Czech dubbing
Desperate Housewives
Danish subtitles
Meeleheitel koduperenaised (English: Desperate Housewives)
Estonian subtitles
Täydelliset Naiset (English: Perfect Women)
Finnish subtitles
Desperate Housewives
September 2005
June 2006
French dubbing, English with French subtitles on digital networks
Germanymarker Desperate Housewives
German dubbing
靚太唔易做 (English: It's not easy to be a beautiful housewife)


Traditional Chinese subtitles
Született feleségek (English: Natural Born Wives)

Cool TV


Hungarian dubbing
Aðþrengdar eiginkonur
Icelandic subtitles
Desperate Housewives
Star World
English subtitles
Desperate Housewives - I segreti di Wisteria Lane
FOX Life

Italian dubbing
עקרות בית נואשות


Hebrew subtitles
Bīstamās mājsaimnieces( English: Dangerous housewives)
Latvian dubbing
Nusivylusios namų šeimininkės( English: Desperate Housewives)
Lithuanian dubbing
靚太唔易做 (English: It's not easy to be a beautiful housewife)
Traditional Chinese subtitles
Очајни домаќинки
Macedonian subtitles
Desperate Housewives
Malay subtitles
Esposas Desesperadas (English: Desperate Wives)
Sony Entertainment Television

Azteca 7

Spanish subtitles

Spanish dubbing
Desperate Housewives
Dutch subtitles
Gotowe na wszystko (English: Women Ready for Everything)

Fox Life

Comedy Central


Polish reader
Esposas Desesperadas

Spanish dubbing
Neveste Disperate
Prima TV

Pro TV



Romanian subtitles
Отчаянные домохозяйки


Russian dubbing
Očajne domaćice
RTV Pink


Serbian subtitles
Zúfalé manželky
Slovak dubbing
Razočarane gospodinje
Slovene subtitles
Mujeres Desesperadas (English: "Desperate Women")
La 1

Sony Entertainment Television

FOX España
Spanish dubbing
Desperate Housewives
SF Zwei
German dubbing and English (second audio program)
Umutsuz Ev Kadınları
CNBC-e, e2
Turkish subtitles
Desperate Housewives
Channel 4, E4
Відчайдушні Домогосподарки

New Channel

Ukrainian dubbing
Những bà nội trợ kiểu Mỹ (English: American housewives)
Vietnamese dubbing
Desperate Housewives
Kanal 5
Swedish subtitles

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.

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.

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 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 October 21, 2009 7 24
The Complete Seasons 1-5 November 9, 2009 31 111


In 2005, UK company Re:creation published Desperate Housewives Dirty Laundry Game, a board game based on season three of Desperate Housewives. 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. 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. “The inspirado for Gameloft’s take on Desperate Housewives comes from the most unlikely place, too – the original Mario Party on the Nintendo 64.”

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. 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 978-1401-3082-61), a companion to the first season of the show, written by the production team behind the series. One year later, in October 2006, Hyperion published The Desperate Housewives Cookbook – Juicy Dishes and Saucy Bits (ISBN 978-1401-3027-71). In addition, official wall calendars, featuring shots taken from the series, were published by Andrews McMeel Publishing for 2006, 2007 and 2008.

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 978-0930865795), 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 978-1845-1122-02), from I.B. Tauris, is an academic look at the show by film studies lecturers Janet McCabe and Kim Akassm, Welcome to Wisteria Lane: On America’s Favorite Desperate Housewives (ISBN 978-1932-1007-92), published by BenBella Books, consists of seventeen essays written from a feminist perspective, 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. 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 tall fashion dolls, produced by Madame Alexander. In 2007 they were released in a limited edition of 300 pieces each. A perfume was also released, named Forbidden Fruit.

Another Desperate Housewife

In conjunction with season six Marc Cherry was comissioned 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. The mini-episodes were written to advertise the mobile phone company "Sprint" and involved just three characters. The two main characters were Stephanie and Lance who have moved into the former house of Edie Britt after her death. The third character, Elsa, was Stephanie's friend. As the episodes go on it is 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 on his phone indicating he's seeing another woman and a furious Elsa shoots him. In truth, Stephanie sent the message herself. The final mini-episode has Elsa being arrested and Stephanie attracted to a handsome policeman at the scene. Each episode ended 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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