x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Wisteria hysteria comes to a poignant end

On eight seasons the women of Desperate Housewives made us believe their over-the-top, crisis-a-day lifestyles were, in fact, the ordinary world.

Terri Hatcher, left, as Susan in Desperate Housewives. Danny Feld / ABC via Getty images
Terri Hatcher, left, as Susan in Desperate Housewives. Danny Feld / ABC via Getty images

It's probably no coincidence that "Wisteria" rhymes with "hysteria" - because in eight seasons the women of Desperate Housewives made us believe their over-the-top, crisis-a-day lifestyles were, in fact, the ordinary world.

With emotions that ran higher than Icarus flew, and schemes that could confuse a chess master - Susan (Teri Hatcher), Lynette (Felicity Huffman), Bree (Marcia Cross), Gabrielle (Eva Longoria) and the deceased narrator Mary Alice (Brenda Strong) — the ladies of "hysteria" lane proved wildly entertaining, intelligent and a refreshing break from the typical humdrum TV fare of testos-terone-fed police procedurals, daft sitcoms and reality goofballs.

Created by the Los Angeles writer Marc Cherry at a time when he was broke, US$100,000 (Dh367,000) in debt to his mother and pretty much written off by the TV establishment, his script grew into a global sensation.

The notion that a placid, beautiful suburban neighbourhood could, under the surface, be festering with so many secrets, crimes and mysteries quickly proved a cash cow for ABC, earning up to $2.74 million per half an hour, often pulling in 30 million viewers in the US and 120 million viewers internationally, the highest rating in its demographic.

But all that's about to become TV history with Monday's two-hour finale. While the players didn't get as much as a glance at their very last script until the weekend of April 13 for a first table read, it decimated their tear ducts.

"It was a crying fest," Longoria told TV Guide. "Brenda [Strong] couldn't get through her voiceovers. I couldn't get through my dialogue."

An hour of "crying, hugging and reminiscing" ensued after the table read, says Huffman. Adds Cross: "It was a sweet, private moment for us."

What turned on the waterworks is a poignant, heartfelt farewell that sees Renee (Vanessa Williams) marry Ben (Charles Mesure); a housewife ponder marriage (again); Julie (Andrea Bowen) give birth; Mrs McCluskey (Kathryn Joosten) embrace the end stage of her cancer and a flashback of Mary Alice's arrival on Wisteria Lane. The reality that the end is nigh is sinking in for Hatcher: "Every day it gets to be a little more real. I think you just can't really know what it's going to feel like until it's over."

Even the creator, Cherry, is getting in on the last act, keeping a promise to his cast that he would do a cameo in the finale. "I'm going to do a Hitchcock, and the hair and make-up people will go through more hell that day than they've ever gone through with this cast."

Don't expect a Desperate Housewives movie, either. "After eight years, boy, I think we're done. That's not a bad thing, I just feel very satisfied with where we are. And I'm just never sending any of these gals to Dubai, that's all I'm saying," adds Cherry, taking a jab at the critically drubbed Sex and the City 2 movie.

The Desperate Housewives two-hour series finale will be broadcast at 9pm Monday and 1am on Tuesday on OSN First HD and OSN First; and 11pm on Monday and 3am on Tuesday on OSN First +2. See listings for more Tuesday times

The Biggest Surprise

None of the actors knew anything about their stories ahead of time. "I don't trust any of them," says the creator Marc Cherry.

It takes a lot to shock the mind that dreamt up Desperate Housewives, but Cherry says his biggest surprise was how the fans accepted the break-up of Lynette (Felicity Huffman) and Tom (Doug Savant).

"I didn't think we would ever be able to split Tom and Lynette up. Everyone else had gone through so much, the writers were just like 'Let's rip them apart'."

Playing the break-up wasn't easy, adds Huffman. "We actually started fighting off-screen."