Pop Culture

‘Desperate Housewives’ are all about money

It can be disturbing to watch shows like "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" to see just how focused the women are on money. Their counterparts on "Desperate Housewives" may be fictional, but their monetary priorities are all kinds of screwed up, too.

Plots in Sunday's episode involved eco-terrorist Patrick Logan running down Nick Bolen and Lynette taking serial killer teen Eddie into her home. But it was one of the smaller plots that offered a disturbing picture of life on Wisteria Lane.

Susan's ex-husband Karl died and left her part of a strip club, which she sold for big bucks. But husband Mike won't let her use that cash to help his business out of debt, instead borrowing from Carlos and not telling his wife.

Isn't money in a relationship supposed to be jointly shared? Susan didn't earn the strip-club money by any work of hers. Easy come, easy go. And if Mike thinks he can pay back Carlos, why couldn't he pay back his own wife? They have an enormous home, Julie is grown up and M.J. won't need college tuition for more than a decade yet. This plot makes no sense.

But OK, say we go with it. Mike has an enormous ego that will not allow him to use his own wife's money. Look at the other cast members' attitudes about money here.

Gaby finds out that Mike borrowed the money because Carlos won't buy her a ski chalet in Aspen. Never mind that the $50,000 Carlos loaned Mike might pay for a shack in Aspen -- Gaby is no skier, nor a world traveler. Her character has been made to want the chalet because it's a cliche for greed, and Gaby, despite her charm, is meant to represent the money-crazed, greedy ex-model.

Naturally, the two women find out about the loan and stage a dramatic dinner where they manage to convince Carlos that Mike and Susan are wasting the borrowed money, and to convince Mike, briefly, that Susan and Carlos are having an affair. But in the end, the men don't resent being twisted around by the women who are supposed to love them, because it's simply teaching them a lesson about how they need to be honest in the first place. Because rather than set an example by being honest, it's much better for your marriage to mess with your beloved's mind.

Even before Susan and Gaby enacted their little play, Susan was displaying the Wisteria Lane attitude towards money. She inherited a piano from an aunt, but rather than be honest about her good fortune, she couldn't wait to brag about it to Gaby, planning to tell her it cost $30,000. How is this something friends do? How does naming a giant dollar amount that you were able to spend make you feel better about yourself?

There was another money-related plot on the episode, but at least it was a little more understandable. Bree found out that Sam's mother wasn't dead, but instead was working at a grocery store. Sam's anger at his mother was based on the fact that wealthy Rex once asked to take Sam in and give him a better life, but Sam's mother refused. Sam described a life of sitting in an unheated trailer wearing mittens to do his homework, so his anger at the loss of a life of privilege is a little understandable. But he still came off as a young man whose own mother's love meant much less than the comforts of wealth.

“Desperate Housewives” often walks the lines between drama, soap opera, and comedy, but one thing it can never be is a moral lesson. If you see a character on the show acting one way, you'd be smart to do the opposite.