When Desperate Housewives premiered on ABC on October 3, 2004, few predicted that a show about five suburbanites would last so long. On Sunday, after eight seasons and 180 episodes, the late night soap will conclude in a two-hour series finale (airing at 9 p.m. EST).
The women of Wisteria Lane — Susan Mayer (Teri Hatcher), Bree Van de Kamp (Marcia Cross), Lynette Scavo (Felicity Huffman), Gabrielle Solis (Eva Longoria) and Edie Britt (Nicollette Sheridan) — struck a chord with viewers early on. “The day after the premiere, everybody was on set — Access Hollywood and Extra and the Today show,” Longoria, 37, recently told Entertainment Weekly. “I just remember everyone bringing baskets and champagne and celebrating. I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is big!””
Added James Denton, 49: “Literally, the show was on the air Sunday — things were different on Monday. We learned to sit in the corner at restaurants or get through the airport a little quicker.”
Desperate Housewives won six Emmys, a Golden Globe and two Screen Actors Guild Awards in its first year. The second season premiered to 28.4 million viewers and introduced a new housewife, Betty Applewhite (Alfre Woodard).
Throughout the next several seasons, several new neighbors were introduced: Katherine Mayfair (Dana Delany), Angie Bolen (Drea de Matteo) and Renee Perry (Vanessa Williams), Lee McDermott (Kevin Rahm), Bob Hunter (Tuc Watkins). Other characters, like Karen McCluskey (Kathryn Joosten) and Felicia Tilman (Harriet Sansom Harris), were given more prominent storylines.
When Season 5 aired on September 28, 2008, the show jumped forward five years. Bree had become a homemaking mogul, Susan and Mike (Denton) had divorced, Lynette was struggling to raise her teenage sons, and a less glamorous Gabrielle was now raising two disobedient daughters with her husband Carlos (Ricardo Antonio Chavira). That same season, series creator Marc Cherry made the decision to kill off Sheridan’s character, Edie.
“I thought that it would be a great way to shock the audience because she was such a major character in the show,” Cherry, 50, explained. (Sheridan later sued Cherry, accusing him of firing her for ulterior motives.)
In August 2011, with ratings still strong but in decline, ABC announced that Desperate Housewives‘ eighth season would be its last. “How many more affairs can you have?” asked Longoria, whose character cheated on her husband with her teenage gardener (Jesse Metcalfe) in Season 1. “And how many more deaths can you have? Eight years is such a long run. It’s a blessing and at the same time exhausting.”
Much of Season 8 focused on Bree, Gabrielle, Susan and Lynette trying to cover up the accidental murder of Gabrielle’s abusive stepfather, Alejandro Perez (Tony Plana). In later episodes, Denton’s character was killed in a drive-by shooting. “I think killing Mike was a bad idea,” Hatcher told Entertainment Weekly. “It’s sad to me that Susan — who started the series as a single, unloved mother — ends now in the same way.”
What will happen to the women of Wisteria Lane? Tune in for the two-hour Desperate Housewives series finale Sunday at 9 p.m. EST on ABC.
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