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Feature: Desperate Housewives

Desperate Measures


We take a walk down Wisteria Lane with Marc Cherry, creator of this phenomenal series

The series on everybody’s lips this season has been Desperate Housewives. Premièring to impressive ratings on ABC back in October, it’s become a phenomenon Stateside and has now started acquiring an impressive showing of Channel 4 viewers, becoming a watercooler talking point and appearing on billboards everywhere you look. For those who haven’t yet caught it, it’s set in the picturesque Wisteria Lane, all beautifully-tended gardens and white picket fences. But behind this veneer of calm lurks a secret that causes Mary Alice Young (Brenda Strong) to wake up one morning, tidy her house, then put a gun to her head and shoot herself dead. Trying to unravel the reason for this sudden suicide while dealing with their own problems and secrets are Mary Alice’s four closest friends: Susan Mayer (Teri Hatcher), Bree Van De Camp (Marcia Cross), Lynette Scavo (Felicity Huffman) and Gabrielle Solis (Eva Longoria).

Marc Cherry, the creator and executive producer, explains how the show was envisaged: “I approached this as more like a sitcom in terms of I wanted short, fun scenes. I wanted each scene to be its own thing, and I wanted to tell four interesting – well, five interesting stories – every single episode for the four characters, and always there would be a mystery story. So every week we always have more plot than we know what to do with, and we’re always trying to cram that in, so it’s evolved, a little unbeknownst to me, as this incredibly fast-paced thing. You don’t like one scene or one storyline? Well, another is coming right after it.

“I work really hard with the writers to make sure that every story is just as meaty as the others. I don’t do it like there’s a B-story or a C-story. I want every story to be its own A-story, so that’s how I approach it structurally.”

A show hard to pigeonhole, it contains dramatic elements alongside more comedic ones, with scenes that wouldn’t be out of place in Sex and the City, Malcolm in the Middle or a Soap Opera. The last of these is how ABC has been promoting the show, although Cherry admits, “We do it at a much quicker pace than most Soap Operas, because I get bored.” Despite recently taking the Golden Globe for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy, Cherry jokes that the Emmys might be a different story. “I think now that we’ve got the Golden Globe, it would be kind of silly for us not to switch horses, like, oh, we’re comedy; now we’re drama. We can win them all!” He laughs. “Now we’re a reality programme…

“I think the classy thing to do would be to pick a genre and stick with it. The truth is that any of these categories is uncomfortable because none of them truly embraces what our show is, which is a really interesting mixture of a bunch of tonalities; mystery, comedy, drama. Some of our comedy is big, some is just dry and ironic. We have a lot of different things going on and no category is absolutely correct. Now that we’ve won our little award, I think we’ll probably stick with that.”

by Paul Spragg

Get the full interview in
Cult Times #114

Photo © ABC
Feature © Visual Imagination 2005. Not for reproduction

Taken from
Cult Times #114, see below for ordering options
Cult Times #114
March 2005
ships from Feb 17 2005
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