Desperate Housewives: No Longer Desperate Plotlines.
Well that’s more like it.
After a disappointing couple of seasons, the queen mother of suburban satires seems to have finally returned to form. The first two episodes of the fifth season of Desperate Housewives -- which has flashed forward five years -- have been chock full of storylines about motherhood and work, behind the white picket fences.
Take Gabby Solis (Eva Longoria Parker). At the end of the fourth season, she was still the pampered, glamorous former model who’d reunited with her hunky ex-husband Carlos (Ricardo Antonio Chavira) who’d just been blinded in an accident. Gabby was a shallow, raging narcissist. Now, in the current season, five years into the future, Gabby’s the mother of two girls (including a 4-year-old with weight issues), has put on weight of her own (moving from having a stick-like figure to one of an ordinary woman) and dresses in off-the-rack, machine washable clothing. While Carlos is thriving and happy to be a masseuse and to have the love of his wife and daughters, Gabby is woefully unhappy that she’s lost her social cache, her sub-zero figure and her Vera Wang wardrobe.
And watching this previously self-absorbed character try to parent reminds me of watching Lynette Scavo (Felicity Huffman) circa season one of Desperate Housewives, when it was at its satirical apex. Take Gabby’s daughter Juanita’s weight problem, about which Gabby had been in denial. After watching her daughter scarf down two pieces of cake at a princess birthday party, Gabby realized something had to be done to change her daughter’s ways. So what did she do? Make Juanita, still wearing a fluffy pink princess dress from the party, strap on sneakers and try to catch up to Gabby’s car as Gabby repeatedly sped up each time Juanita got within arm’s length of the car door.
Then there’s Bree Van de Kamp Hodge (Marcia Cross), who started her own catering business and is on her way to becoming the next Martha Stewart. In last season’s silly, over-the-top story arc, Bree pretended to be pregnant in order to hide the fact that her teenage daughter was pregnant, then acted as though the baby was her son. Luckily, this season, Desperate Housewives has veered away from the overtly crazy and is instead spending time on Bree’s attempts to cope with her husband Orson’s (Kyle MacLachlan) jealousy over her success and disappointment that she’s no longer doting on him like a 1950s housewife. This was dramatized by a scene where Bree, while promoting Mrs. Van de Kamp’s Old Fashion Cooking book on a national radio show, said: “I think a lot of people miss the way life used to be back when women had more time to cook. It’s always been important for me to have the family gathering around the table every night for hot, lovingly prepared meals.” As Orson was listening to the interview alone at home, he was eating Chinese take-out from the containers. Angered by the lack of home cooked meals and that Bree wouldn’t use his last name as her professional name, Orson lashed out at her after she came home from work at midnight, insisting that she immediately make him the pot roast dinner she’d promised to make him earlier. And she did, but through a curtain of tears.