Confessions of Real-Life Desperate Housewives
Desperate or Honest?
Ever wanted to sneak away from your mother-in-law? Ever been lectured you about what you're wearing? Have you been tempted to bolt from home after an exhausting day with your kids? Then you're probably a fan of ABC's Desperate Housewives, one of this season's hottest TV hits.
The campy, soap-opera world of Desperate Housewives doesn't mirror real life. Wisteria Lane has the sparkling, unreal look of a studio set, and its residents are a lot more glamorous than the average housewife. As Professor Susan Douglas, chair of Communication Studies department at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, points out: "They're all beautiful and a size 4. But the writers made the characters complicated and interesting." Douglas, who coauthored the book The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How It has Undermined Women (Free Press, 2004), says the show "speaks to a growing exasperation with the myth of perfect motherhood and a perfect suburban life."
Women across the country -- from inner-city executives working 60-hour weeks to rural farmers homeschooling their kids -- identify with the show's cheeky main characters: Susan Mayer (Teri Hatcher), the klutzy divorcee and single mom; Lynette Scavo (Felicity Huffman), who left a high-powered career to stay home with four unmanageable kids; Bree Van De Kamp (Marcia Cross), the tightly wound Martha Stewart wannabe whose family has had enough; and Gabrielle Solis (Eva Longoria), the spoiled ex-model who has an affair with her teenage gardener. But it's the nation's housewives for whom the show has really caught fire. Here, four of their stories.