Our introduction to “Desperate Housewives” consisted of a sad housewife holding a gun to her head, since then the body count has only continued to climb. Grandpas, boyfriends, “Frasier’s” one-episode receptionist — there’s no one this show won’t kill. Except, perhaps, the main characters.
In season one, when the series was less sudsy and more dark comedy, and fans applauded the writers’ risk-taking with the main characters — as Lynette, in a Ritalin-induced hallucination, thoughtfully accepted a gun from a dead, beaming Mary Alice, viewers were jolted. This was no “Cosby Show.”
Season four has percolated to the fall sweeps benchmark: Gabby and Carlos blunder through an affair while still formally attached to Victor and Edie; Lynette performs Wisteria Lane’s most dramatic wig removal ever; Bree’s engaged in a baby charade; and Susan refuses to allow a fetus to get in the way of her usual social ineptitude. While there are no indicators of a major character death, a theoretical trip to the morgue would make for some much-needed Wisteria Lane drama.
They wouldn’t, would they?
Lynette is closest to life-and-death issues at the moment, what with contracting a potentially terminal plot point and all. Although a divisive character — thanks to her abrasive personality and interesting parenting decisions — Lynette’s had her fair share of blood and guts.
With a multitude of family issues surrounding Lynette, it’s difficult to believe she’d be at the receiving end of, say, a bullet shot by a jealous rampager who has taken over a grocery store. But nothing ups the drama ante like a widower and four kids. Lynette’s death might fall on the initially melodramatic side, but it would show impressive moxie on the part of the writers, and, well handled, might make a strong Desperate Husband out of Tom.
They wouldn’t, would they? Please?
The average IQ of Wisteria Lane would certainly shoot up several hundred points if Susan died. Susan, however, is now with Mike’s child. The producers have been exasperating viewers for years with season-long fights that then tended to be resolved in the space of a commercial break. But now that the two seem angstlessly married, little dramatic action is apt to come Susan’s way — unless she’s falling over something or asking her daughter to listen to detailed descriptions of her mother’s gynecological issues. Then Susan’s your girl.
Offing her might have made dramatic sense in the first or second seasons, when she was Super Sleuthy Susan, but her current back-burner role would simply result in shock for the sake of shock.
In a way, Bree’s character was killed off in season two when the ultra-uptight character we’d come to love with all her compulsive quirks, the woman who lived life according to what the neighbors would think, began stepping out with the town pharmacist, who filled his prescription bottles right to the top with icky.
By shoving a pillow under her own Lord & Taylor’ed body to hide her teenage daughter’s pregnancy (Bree shipped her off to a convent! Isn’t that so wonderfully Eisenhower Administration of her?) Bree is being reborn this season, right along with her grandchild. Losing her now just when she’s finding herself again amps the tragic ... although the utter inability of anyone else to cater the funeral up to her standards would please her immensely.
Dramatically, Gabrielle is in even more mortal danger than Lynette: She’s cycling through the same plotline she had four years ago. We’ve even had Formerly Underage Gardner, John, back in the picture.
As always, Gabrielle is less than smart when it comes to choosing her bedding partners, having moved from members of the high-school football team to the other end of the danger spectrum, Grandpa Mayor. Victor can support her couture habit, but he’s also a guy who either knows people, or knows people who know people — the kind of people who beat up cops for daring to grab the bratty wrist of the First Lady of Fairview as she traipses through town tearing up parking tickets. Gabrielle: Easy to buy for, easy to kill.
Man, did you see that big ol’ gash on the floor of Katherine’s house? Girlfriend can wield an axe. Or somebody can. Katherine’s odds for a mortal struggle at some point this season are higher than any of her neighbors’ — and on Wisteria Lane, that’s saying something.
Let’s count who Katherine has honked off since she came back to town, shall we? It’s a lot of people, is all, not to mention some potential enemies in Chicago, the Official Exporting City of new “Desperate Housewives” characters.
A Katherine-cide is more in line with the recent “Desperate Housewives” style — insert new character, delete when no longer useful — but since her integration and established past with at least some of the cast members, sending her down a convenient elevator shaft might carry some dramatic weight.
Oh, so close. The scarf was there, the chair kicked away.
Now that Susan has the rest of the cast to give her reality checks (Bree: “Not everything’s about you, Susan!” Lynette: “You can’t just cute your way out of this one.” Mike: “Let it go.” All of America: “SHUT UP, SUSAN!”), Edie’s work here is done. Her other “Desperate Housewives’” function — to jog into a scene, snark and trot off again — has been replaced by the writers’ need for someone to muck up Gabrielle and Carlos’ fun time.
Is she merely waiting around for Orson and Tom to become available, seeing as she’s been through everybody else in the neighborhood? Edie would have laughed very hard in the first season at the suggestion of blackmailing an otherwise involved man into a relationship. Where’d you go, Edie? Her character might be better served leaving Wisteria Lane the way most of the neighborhood has — in a body bag.
And as long as we’re going to killing Edie, don’t forget her stylist. Those were some serious roots she was sporting as she dangled from that rafter.
While the writing team appeared to take a risk by hanging Edie at the end of that flimsy little scarf last season, the residents of Wisteria Lane have been too safe for too long. Sexcapades and crashing teen keggers don’t carry the emotional wallop of the first season or, for instance, the brilliantly executed shock of the third season’s “Bang!”
We knew Nora wouldn't be hanging around for long, we just didn't expect her to go “Pulp Fiction”-style. It wasn't the violence of the moment, it was the careful execution of the execution. Fans were fully expecting a near-Scavo breakup, not a complex scene in which Lynette's mouthiness brought about what she may have wanted most, but in a way she never expected. The writers’ willingness to expend a troublemaking, interesting character brought the season out of cliche and into compelling television.
The greatest dramatic release comes not from manufactured drama, but from that which leads naturally from the characters’ value and place within a larger framework. And so for the good of the Lane, finish Edie off. The real estate values just ain’t what they used to be.