"Pilot" is the 1st episode of Desperate Housewives.
- 1 Summary
- 2 Plot
- 3 Production
- 4 Reception
- 5 Trivia
- 6 Bloopers and continuity errors
- 7 Quotes
- 8 Gallery
- 9 External links
- 10 References
- 11 Video
Looking down on her friends and family isn't a way of life for Mary Alice Young. It's a way of death. One day, in her perfect house, in the loveliest of suburbs, Mary Alice ended it all. Now she's taking us into the lives of her family, friends and neighbors, commenting from her elevated POV. Her husband's acting suspicious, the neighbors are talking, and her girlfriends are wondering why one of their own would do something so rash… and so messy. From her unique vantage point, Mary Alice sees more now than she ever did alive and she's planning to share all the delicious secrets that hide behind every neighbor's closed door in this seemingly perfect American suburb.
The first shot of Wisteria Lane we are treated to.
The lovely Mary Alice tends to her garden.
A schoolbus is seen driving out of the street, people are walking by, and Gabrielle Solis is seen jogging in a pink exercise outfit. She crosses the road, running, and jogs past 4352 Wisteria Lane, where Mary Alice Young resides. Mary Alice gets out of the house, smiling, carrying with her a basket with gardening supplies and tools. She starts tending to her garden.
My name is Mary Alice Young. When you read this morning's paper, you may come across an article about the unusual day I last week. Normally, there's never anything newsworthy about my life, but that all changed last Thursday.
We flash to Thursday morning, when Mary Alice's husband, Paul, and 16-year-old son, Zach, are sitting at a small, round table in their house, near the window, that's filled with breakfast goods. Mary Alice enters the room, bringing with her a tray of waffles, and she then sits down with her family as Paul takes the waffles off her hand.
Of course, everything seemed quite normal at first. I made breakfast for my family...
A washing machine's on/off button is seen, and Mary Alice turns it on. She is then seen walking away with a basket of laundry as the machine proceeds to wash yet another round.
I performed my chores...
Mary Alice's hand is seen swirling some paint in a can with a paintbrush, which she then utilizes to paint a patio chair in beige.
I completed my projects...
Mary Alice is then seen walking out of a laundry service store, carrying several items of clothing.
I ran my errands.
Mary Alice's letter box is opened, and we see her taking some envelopes from inside.
In truth, I spent the day as I spend every other day: quietly polishing the routine of my life, until it gleamed with perfection.
Inside her house, Mary Alice, in a (now iconic) beige outfit, is seen in her living room. She fixes a frame with the photo of her son, which was atop a piano, along with several other pictures, restoring the balance. She smiles.
Mary Alice then heads to her hallway closet and picks up a shoe box from the highest shelf.
That's why it was so astonishing when I decided to go to my hallway closet and retrieve a revolver that had never been used.
Mary Alice is shown lifting up a revolver in her hand and pointing it at her head. She looks sad. Her finger pulls the trigger, the gun goes off, and we see the reflection of Mary Alice going down in the frame of the family's picture.
Over at 4350 Wisteria Lane, in the kitchen, Martha Huber is seen licking some spilled tomato sauce, which she was in the process of cleaning up, using a sponge. She turns her head to the back upon hearing a strange noise.
My body was discovered by my neighbor, Mrs. Martha Huber, who had been startled by a strange popping sound. Her curiosity aroused, Mrs. Huber tried to think of a reason for dropping in on me unannounced.
Martha opens a cupboard and we see a blender on the shelf with a label that reads "Property of Mary Alice Young". She is then seen getting out of the house, blender in tow.
After some initial hesitation, she decided to return the blender she had borrowed from me six months before.
Martha runs over to Mary Alice's house, and is hosed by a sprinkler, which she tries to rush past. She rings the doorbell, but gets no response.
She then decides to go around the house, and peeks through a window. She spots Mary Alice's cadaver, lying on the floor, eyes closed, next to the gun and a puddle of blood. Martha lets out a horrified scream, and rushes back to her home, past the sprinkler, with the blender still in her grasp.
Inside the house, Martha has just called 911. "It's my neighbor", she says, "I think she's been shot. There's blood everywhere. Yes, you've got to send an ambulance. You've got to send one right now!" Martha hangs up.
And for a moment, Mrs. Huber stood motionless in her kitchen, grief-stricken by this senseless tragedy. But, only for a moment. If there was one thing Mrs. Huber was known for, it was her ability to look on the bright side.
|Mary Alice Young|
Overview of the beautiful street of Wisteria Lane. Several people, all dressed in black and most of them carrying casseroles, are headed to the Young house, where Mary Alice's wake is being held.
I was laid to rest on a Monday. After the funeral, all the residents of Wisteria Lane came to pay their respects. And, as people do in these situations, they brought food.
Close-up of a plate with fried chicken, wrapped in plastic. A frazzled-looking blonde, Lynette Scavo, is carrying it.
Lynette Scavo brought fried chicken. Lynette had a great family recipe for fried chicken. Of course, she didn't cook much while she was moving up the corporate ladder. She didn't have the time.
We flash to Lynette giving a meeting during her ad wiz days. Lynette used to hold a high-ranking position in an advertising firm, Advertising Partners, ltd.
But when her doctor announced Lynette was pregnant, her husband Tom had an idea. "Why not quit your job? Kids do better with stay-at-home moms, it would be so much less stressful."
We then flash to find Lynette and her husband, Tom Scavo, during the former's first sonogram. As the ultrasound technician does his job, Tom turns to his wife and asks her why she doesn't quit her job, as it would be less stressful. Lynette reluctantly agrees.
Lynette is seen walking in the street, strolling her baby, approximately 1-year-old Penny, and her three older boys, twins Preston and Porter (age +- 6), and youngest son Parker (age +-5), are feuding as they walk ahead of the trolley. Lynette comes up in front of them and kneels down before the kids, telling them to quit their hassling of each other. One of the kids starts to speak out, but Lynette shuts him up, saying she will not be embarrassed by them that day. She then takes out a piece of paper from the inside of her shirt, and holds it up for them to see. One of the twins asks what that is, and Lynette answers that it's Santa's cell phone number. She got it from someone who knows someone who knows an elf. She threatens them by saying that unless they behave, they'll be getting socks for Christmas. The kids aren't willing to risk that, so they can continue their march over to Mary Alice's wake, with Lynette saying, "Ok. Let's get this over."
The camera quickly moves to show us the Solis household. Carlos Solis is standing outside the house, as his wife Gabrielle walks out with a casserole of paella.
Gabrielle Solis, who lives down the block, brought a spicy paella. Since her modeling days in New York, Gabrielle had developed a taste for rich food... and rich men.
Flash to Gabrielle walking a runway back in her glory days, working as a supermodel. Carlos is seen in the attending audience as Gabrielle struts in the catwalk, surrounded by the flashes of innumerous cameras.
Carlos, who worked in mergers and acquisitions, proposed on their third date. Gabrielle was touched when tears welled up in his eyes. But she soon discovered this happened everytime Carlos closed a big deal.
We then flash to see Gabrielle and Carlos at their third date, in a fancy restaurant, when he proposes to her. Gabrielle is so happy, and Carlos is teary-eyed.
Gabrielle liked her paella piping hot. However, her relationship with her husband was considerably cooler.
Gabrielle approaches her husband, and he takes the casserole off her hands. They start walking towards the Young house, and Carlos tells his wife that if she happens to talk to Al Mason that day, he wants her to casually mention how much he payed for her necklace. Gabrielle jokes that she could pin the receipt to her chest, and Carlos explains that Mason let him know how much he paid for his wife's convertible, so she should just try and work that into the conversation. Gaby says there is no way she can just work that it in, and he reminds her of her time everyone at the Donahue party was talking mutual funds, and she managed to find a way to mention that she slept with half the Yankee outfield. Gaby insists that it came up in the context of the conversation, and Carlos tells her to keep her voice down, as people are beginning to stare. Gaby says sure, after all, she doesn't want anyone to think they're not happy.
The door to the Young house is opened, and we find Bree Van de Kamp waiting outside with a smile, as her frustrated family waits behind her.
Bree Van de Kamp, who lives next door, brought baskets of muffins she baked from scratch.
Bree's hands are shown, and she is carrying two baskets of home-made muffins, complete with floral arrangements as decoration. One basket has a blue ribbon tied around the handle, and the other basket as a red ribbon. Bree sighs, but it appears to be "let's do this" sigh.
Bree was known for her cooking. And for sewing her own clothes. And for doing her own gardening. And for reupholstering her own furniture.
We are treated to several flashbacks that feature Bree engaging in the activities described by Mary Alice. In the present, Bree and her family, consisting of husband Rex, son Andrew and daughter Danielle, let themselves in.
Yes, Bree's many talents were known throughout the neighborhood, and everyone on Wisteria Lane thought of Bree as the perfect wife and mother. Everyone, that is, except her own family.
Bree's family looks annoyed by their matriarch's behavior. Bree puts on a sympathetic face as she approaches Paul and Zach Young, and greets them. Zach says "Hello, Mrs. Van de Kamp", and Paul tells his neighbor that she shouldn't have gone to all this trouble. As he reaches for the baskets, Bree moves them away from him, and says it was no trouble at all.
She proceeds to explain that the basket with the red ribbon is filled with desserts for their guests, but the one with the blue ribbon is just for the two of them (Paul looks impatient as she tattles on), and it's got rolls, muffins, breakfast-type things.
Paul thanks her, and Bree states that the least she could do was make sure they had a decent meal to look forward to in the morning. She adds that she knows they're out of their minds with grief. Paul confirms that they are, and everyone looks down for a second, before Bree bluntly adds, with a nearly robotic smile, that she will need the baskets back once they're done. Rex is shocked. Paul says "Of course", and Bree walks away, presumably still holding the baskets. Rex doesn't know how to react.
Susan Mayer, who lives across the street, brought macaroni and cheese. Her husband Karl always teased her about her macaroni, saying it was the only thing she knew how to cook, and she rarely made it well.
The door to 4353 Wisteria Lane opens up, and Susan Mayer and her daughter Julie walk out. Susan is holding a casserole with macaroni and cheese. The tin foil that covers the casserole almost flies off, but Susan manages to catch it and put it back where it belongs.
It was too salty the night she and Karl moved into their house.
We flash to Susan, looking very happy in her new home, with Karl Mayer and their young daughter, an infant Julie, sitting at the dinner table and having mac and cheese.
It was too watery the night she found lipstick on Karl's shirt.
Flash to a similar dinner night, several years later. Julie is now older, and there's mac and cheese on a tiny casserole on top of the table. Karl is sitting down, eating, and Susan throws a shirt in his face. He takes it off, angrily, and throws it to the floor.
She burnt it the night Karl told her he was leaving her for his secretary.
We then see Karl coming down the stairs, carrying two suitcases, and walking out the front door. Julie tries to comfort her mother as she cries.
A year had passed since the divorce. Susan had started to think how nice it would be to have a man in her life. Even one who would make fun of her cooking.
As they walk over to the Young house, Julie asks her mother why anyone would kill themselves. Susan says that sometimes people are just so unhappy that they think suicide is the only way out. Julie says that Mrs. Young always seemed happy, and Susan explains to her that some people look one way on the outside when they're totally different on the inside. Julie wonders if she means like her dad's girlfriend, Brandi, who is always smiling and says nice things, but deep down one just knows she's a bitch. Susan tells her she doesn't like that word, but, yeah, that's a great example. Susan and Julie enter the Young house, and Susan leaves her casserole on a table and walks up to her friends, as Julie stays behind and chats with the other kids.
Susan approaches her three friends, Bree, Gabrielle and Lynette (who's holding Penny), who are sitting at a round table. Susan pulls up a chair and then stares at Mary Alice's empty chair. She starts pouring herself some coffee, and we are then treated to a flashback that starts off with said coffee being poured in front of her, by Mary Alice.
In said flashback, Mary Alice sits down, and they are all at the same table. Mary Alice asks Susan what Karl said when she confronted him, and Susan confides in them that Karl said "It didn't mean anything, it was just sex"; they are all disgusted by his flamboyant nerve and use of a cliché. Bree states that that's page one of the philanderer's handbook. Susan goes on to say that he then had this zen look on his face as he told her that most men lead lives of quiet desperation. Lynette is hoping that Susan punched him, and Susan replies that she told him, "Really? And what do most women lead? Lives of noisy fulfillment?"; Mary Alice tells her, "Good for you", and Susan adds that, of all people, he had to bang his secretary, a woman she had over for brunch. Gabrielle takes the opportunity to make known that her grandmother always said an erect penis doesn't have a conscience.
Lynette adds that even the limp ones aren't that ethical. Bree joins in, saying that's the top reason she joined the NRA. When Rex started going to several medical conferences, she wanted in the back of his mind that he had a loving wife at home with a loaded Smith & Wesson. The girls chuckle, and Mary Alice wonders if Lynette ever worries about that, given that her husband's always away on business trips. Lynette jokes that he's gotten her pregnant three times in four years, so she wishes he was having sex with someone else. They laugh, and, once they've stopped, Bree asks Susan if Karl's gonna keep seeing that other woman. A depressed Susan tells them she doesn't know. She tries hard to hold back her tears, and tells them she doesn't know how she will ever survive this. Mary Alice tells her they all have moments of desperation. The other women look as though they acknowledge that as a truth. "But if we can face them head on, that's when we find out just how strong we really are", she adds, with a loving smile.
Susan takes Mary Alice's hand.
In the present, Susan wakes up from her little remembrance, and retreats her hand, which she had subcontiously positioned in the same way it was in the flashback, over her friend's hand. Bree tells her that Paul asked them to go through Mary Alice's stuff on Friday, he needs them to go over her closet and help pack up her things, as he can't face doing it by himself. Susan says that's fine, and they all notice she looks terrible. Bree asks if she is okay, and Susan says yeah, but adds that she is so angry. "If Mary Alice was having problems, she should have come to us, she should have let us help her." Gabrielle wonders what kind of problems she could have had: she was healthy, had a great home, a nice family... her life was... Lynette finishes the sentence by saying "Our life"; Gaby goes on to say that if Mary Alice was having some sort of crisis they would had known, as they leave 15 feet away. Susan reminds her that the woman killed herself. Something must have been going on. The camera pans away to reveal Paul Young, leaning up against a pillar, next to them, overhearing their conversation and drinking alcohol, with a creepy look on his face.
Mike Delfino is seen fixing himself up a plate of macaroni and cheese, which Susan brought over. Susan notices what he is about to do, and warns him against it, because she made the meal herself, so she would know. Mike goes on to eat anyway, and she asks him if he has a death wish. He says he just refuses to believe that anybody could screw up macaroni and cheese. He takes a bite out of it, and... it's not good. His face goes from smiley to concerned, as the mac and cheese tastes like it's burnt AND undercooked. Susan tells him she gets that a lot, and she pulls up a napkin for him to spit into. He smiles and thanks her, and then introduces himself as Mike Delfino, who rented the Simms house next door.
Susan introduces herself as Susan Mayer, who lives across the street. They shake hands, and Mike is reminded of her due to a description made to him by Mrs. Huber, who mentioned she illustrates children's books. Susan jokes that she is very big with the under-five set, and they chuckle. She asks him what he does, and he reveals that he is a plumber, so, if she is to ever have a clog... or something. Susan can't help but smile, and takes the casserole from the table, telling him that now that everyone's seen that she brought something, she should probably just throw it out. From across the room, Julie notices them. Susan walks away, but then turns her head back to Mike and smiles. He smiles as well.
Mrs. Huber is seen walking around the house, in the back, and she gets to a window and finally spots her neighbor Lynette, who is sitting at a table, breast-feeding Lynette. Martha approaches her, and tells her she's been looking all over for her. She then promptly asks if she's aware of what her sons are doing. Lynette is horrified. Cut to the twins swimming and rough-housing in the backyard pool. Lynette rushes over to the pool, carrying Penny, and she couldn't be more irritated and embarrassed at the same time.
She asks them what they are doing, because they are at a wake! One of the twins tells her that when they got there she said they could go in the pool, and Lynette corrects him, stating that she said "by the pool". She notices that they have their swimsuits on, and they reveal that they put them under their clothes before they left. Lynette is angry at the fact that they planned this, and she grabs some of their clothes and orders them to get out. They say no, and act stubborn. Lynette reminds them that she is their mother and they have to do what she says.
She is then told that they want to swim and she can't stop them. All the guests by the pool are staring at the situation, and Lynette is frustrated. The twins cross their arms, as they stand in the pool, as though they're making a statement clear. Lynette hands her baby to a random guy, and walks into the pool, high heels and all. The twins didn't see this one coming. She orders them to get out yet again, and they try to get away. Outside the pool, Paul and Zach drop by to witness what all the ruckus is about. Lynette grabs one of the twins by the leg. Susan appears shocked as she witnesses the spectacle, and Lynette has now already made it to the steps with the two twins. Rex and his children also show up, and while he and Andrew are confused, Danielle seems to be enjoying herself. Lynette accidentally splashes Paul, and she finally gets out of the pool with the twins. She then sends Parker an angry look and orders him to get out, and he does so on his own.
Lynette then takes Penny back as the boys reach for their clothes, and she turns to Paul and tells him they have to leave now. "Once again, I am so sorry for your loss." The Scavos all head out.
Lynette shouldn't have been so concerned about my husband. He had other things on his mind. Things below the surface.
Paul looks at the pool. The camera shows us his image from beneath the water level.
The morning is dawning on Wisteria Lane, and a paper boy is seen making his route, throwing newspapers into people's properties.
The morning after my funeral, my friends and neighbors quietly went back to their busy, busy lives.
Cut to Lynette trying to deal with her children, as her three hazardous boys make a mess during breakfast, throwing cereal around.
While some did their cooking...
Cut to Bree scrubbing a toilet in one of her house's bathrooms, kneeling down on a pad.
And some did their cleaning...
Cut to Gabrielle doing yoga in her front porch.
And some did their yoga...
A soccer ball is seen being kicked into the high air, causing to land behind Mike Delfino's house.
Others did their homework.
We hear a doorbell ringing, and the front door of Mike's house is opened to Julie Mayer, who greets him. Mike tries to get his dog, Bongo, to settle down, as he barks repeatedly at Julie, and she explains to Mike that she kicked her soccer ball into his backyard. Mike then tells her they can go around and get it, and closes the door on Bongo.
Later, at Susan's house, she is painting some drawing she made of a fancy lady, while Julie is walking around behind her, repeatedly throwing the ball into the air and catching it. Julie is telling her mother all she's learnt about Mike Delfino: his wife died a year ago, and he wanted to stay in LA but there were too many memories. He's renting for tax purposes but he hopes to buy a place real soon. Susan turns to her daughter to say she can't believe she went over there, and Julie tells her that she saw them both flirting at the wake, they're obviously into each other, and now that they know he's single, Susan can go ask him out.
Susan tells her child that she likes Mr. Delfino, but she doesn't even know if she's ready to start dating yet. Julie tells her she needs to get back out there, and then asks her how long it's been since she's last had sex. Susan stops painting, and turns to her with a weird look on her face. Julie asks her if she's mad that she was asked that, and Susan says "no", she's just trying to remember. Julie gives her a look, and her mother tells her she doesn't want to talk to her about her love life anymore as it weirds her out. Julie starts to say that she wouldn't have said anything, but... Susan turns to her and asks what, and Julie explains that she heard her father's girlfriend ask if Susan had seen anyone since the divorce and Karl said he doubted it. Susan looks sad, and rather humiliated. Julie adds that they then both laughed. Susan turns to her with shock.
Shortly afterwards, Susan, in a more proper attire, walks over to Mike's house with a coffee mug that has a plant in it. She rings the doorbell, Bongo barks, and Mike opens the door and greets her. She hands him the mug and explains that she brought him a little housewarming gift. She then says that she probably should had brought something by earlier, but Mike tells her she was actually the first in the neighborhood to stop by. Susan smiles and says "Really?".
Susan knew she was lucky. An eligible bachelor had moved onto Wisteria Lane, and she was the first to find out. But she also knew that good news travels quickly.
Susan and Mike hear a "Hello, there", and they turn to find Edie Britt marching over to them. She brings with her a casserole.
Edie Britt was the most predatory divorcee in a five-block radius.
We flash to find Edie making out with her handyman. He drops the toolbox as she starts kissing him.
Her conquests were numerous...
We then flash to Edie being taught tennis by some other guy, both dressed in the appropriate tennis equipment. As he is teaching her some move, Edie turns to him and they start making out as well, and he drops the racket as he sits on the couch, with her on top.
Lastly, we flash to Edie sitting on her couch, at night, with a priest in her house, holding a Bible. Edie pushes him to land on top of her and they make out as well, while the Bible is dropped to the floor.
In the present, Edie enters Mike's front porch and greets Susan, then proceeding to tell them she hopes she's not interrupting. She removes her sunglasses from her face and says "You must be Mike Delfino. Hi, I'm Edie..." - she gives him her hand to shake - "Britt. I live over there." - she points at her house, down the lane. She hands him a casserole of food and says "Welcome to Wisteria Lane.
Susan had met the enemy. And she was a slut.
Mike thanks her and asks what she brought him. Edie explains that it's sausage Puttanesca, something she threw together. Mike chuckles and thanks her again, and then tells the two women that he'd invite them in, but he's sort of in the middle of something. They excuse themselves, saying there's no problem and that they just wanted to stop by and say "hi", and he says "hi" and "thanks" again, as they leave.
And just like that, the race for Mike Delfino had begun. For a moment, Susan wondered if her rivalry with Edie would remain friendly.
Edie then turns back to Mike, and says she heard he was a plumber. Mike confirms this.
But she was reminded that when it came to men...
Edie asks him, "Do you think you could stop by later tonight and take a look at my pipes?", to which he replies, "Sure".
Women don't fight fair.
|Mary Alice Young|
Susan looks very annoyed, as Edie thanks Mike and then they both go on their separate ways. Edie tells her "Bye, Susan", and Susan just gives her a wave.
At the Solis household, Gabrielle and Carlos are having a fight. Gaby tells her husband he can't just order her around like she's a child. Apparently, there'll be a party, and she doesn't want to go. Carlos tells her it's business, and Tanaka expects everyone to bring their wives. Gaby says that everytime she's around that man, he tries to grab her ass. Carlos tells her he made over 200 thousand doing business with him the year before, so if he wants to grab her ass, she lets him. Carlos leaves the house, and his young gardener, 17-year-old John Rowland, is tending to some rose bushes. He calls out to him, angrily, which leads John to prickle himself in the finger. John tells Mr. Solis that he scared him. Carlos asks the gardener why that bush is still there, as he was supposed to dig it up the week before, and John says he didn't have time that week, and Carlos interrupts him, saying he doesn't want to hear his excuses. He just has to take care of it.
As he gets ready to leave for work, Gabrielle walks out of the house and tells him she really hates the way he talks to her. Carlos says that he really hates that he spent 15 thousand dollars on that diamond necklace that she couldn't live without. But he's learning to deal with it. Gaby notices John has a hurt finger, as Carlos asks her if he can tell Tanaka that the two of them will be at his party. Gaby tells John they have bandages top shelf in the kitchen, and John thanks her and walks into their home. As he does so, both Carlos and Gaby are quiet and mute. After he's entered their house, Gaby says "Fine, I'll go. But I'm keeping my back pressed against the wall the entire time." Carlos walks out and says "See? Now this is what a marriage is all about. Compromise." Inside the house, John is putting a band-aid around his cut finger, and Gaby walks in and asks if his finger's okay. John says that it is, it is just a small cut. Gaby asks to take a look at it, and the she starts kissing his finger, and then she kisses him on the lips.
They make out for a few seconds and she starts to hurl his shirt up, but he then steps back and starts to tell her that he really likes it when they hook up, but he has to get work done and he can't afford to lose that job... however, as he is saying all this, Gaby has managed to get her shirt off, and is now standing before him in just her bra and a skimpy skirt. She sits on the table, sensually, and tells him that the table was hand-carved. Carlos had it imported from Italy, and it cost him 23 thousand dollars. John asks if she wants to do it on the table this time, to which she replies "Absolutely". She helps him take his shirt off, and then they both wind up making out on top of the table.
At the Van de Kamp household, the Van de Kamps are having dinner in the designated room, ossobuco, no less, whilst classical music plays in the background. Danielle asks her mother why they can't ever have normal soup. Bree tells her there's nothing abnormal about basil puree, and Danielle proceeds to ask why they can't for once have a soup that people have heard of, like French onion or navy bean. Bree tells her that Rex is deadly alergic to onions, and she won't dignify her "navy bean" suggestion. She asks how the ossobucois, to which Andrew replies that it's okay, with little to no emotion. Bree doesn't take this well, and tells him she spent three hours cooking that meal, so she asks him how he thinks it makes her feel when he says "It's okay" in a sullen tone. Andrew asks her who told her to spend three hours making dinner. Bree says "Excuse me?"; Andrew tells her that Tim Harper's mom gets home from work, pops open a can of pork and beans, and boom!, they're eating, everyone's happy.
Bree asks him, with a judgmental look, if he'd rather she served "pork and beans", and Danielle begs her brother to apologize to their mom right then to avoid any further discussions, but Andrew tells her mom that where he's getting at is that they could sometimes eat food, rather than "cuisine". Bree asks him if he's doing drugs, and he is confused. She tells him that change in behavior is one of the warning signs, and he has been fresh as paint for the last six months. And it certainly would explain why he's always locked in the bathroom.
Danielle jokes that that's not what he's doing, and Andrew tells her to shut up. Bree and Rex exchange looks, catching on to what Danielle was alluding to, and Andrew tells his mother that he's not the one with the problem, she is the one who is always acting like she's running for mayor of Stepford. Bree turns to her husband and says, "Rex. Seeing that you're the head of this household, I would really appreciate you saying something." Rex ponders about it, and then simply says "Pass the salt." Bree is surprised at her husband's lackadaisical response, and Danielle passes him the salt shaker.
Three days after my funeral, Lynette replaced her grief with a much more useful emotion: indignation.
Lynette is seen with all her four kids at a local supermarket. She's talking on the cell phone, leaving a message to her husband's voicemail. Penny is sitting in Lynette's shopping cart's seat, whereas the twins have a shopping cart of their own, which they use to play around. Lynette tells her husband that this is the fifth message she's left him and he still hasn't called her back. She goes on to say that he must be having a lot of fun on his business trip, and she and the kids want in on the fun as well, so unless he calls her back by noon they are jumping on a plane and joining him. The twins have already run off with their shopping cart, and Parker tries to call his mother's attention to this fact, but she ignores him at first, telling him not to bother her because she's threatening his daddy. When she does finally notice the twins' absence, she asks Parker where they are.
The twins are seen strolling down some aisle and picking up items, as Lynette is then seen walking around with her shopping cart, looking for them. She runs into Natalie Klein, a former co-worker, who is excited to see her, although Lynette doesn't feel the same way.
However, she tries to fake enthusiasm, and Natalie asks how long it has been since they last saw each other. Lynette simply says it's been years, and then asks how she is, and how the firm is doing. Natalie says it's good, and everyone misses her. She adds that they all say that, hadn't Lynette quit, she'd be running the place by now. Lynette just says "Yeah, well...", and looks down, clearly none too happy. Natalie notices Parker and Penny and asks her friend how domestic life is. She then asks "Don't you just love being a mom?". Lynette is caught off-guard.
And there it was, the question that Lynette always dreaded. For those who asked it, only one answer was acceptable. So, Lynette responded as she always did. She lied.
Lynette takes her time to answer, as she clearly doesn't think domestic life is all it's cracked up to be. Natalie starts to worry about her friend, but then Lynette turns to her with a smile and says "It's the best job I've ever had." Behind her, the twins run the shopping cart into an elderly old lady, who falls to the floor, and they find it very cool. Lynette is frustrated.
Bact at the Solis house, Gabrielle and John have just finished having sex. They are lying down on a futon bed, and Gaby positions herself over John's body to reach for a smoke. She lights her cigarette as he asks her why she married Mr. Solis. Gabrielle that it was because he promised to give her everything she ever wanted, which he did. He asks why she isn't happy, then. Gaby tells him "Turns out I wanted all the wrong things." He asks her if she loves Carlos, to which she replies that she does. He then asks why they're doing what they are, if that's the case, and she says it's because she doesn't want to wake up one morning with a sudden urge to blow her brains out. They kiss, and Gabrielle then keeps smoking her cigarette. John asks if he can have a drag, to which she responds "Absolutely not. You are much to young to smoke." They then make out some more.
Susan is prepping herself to go talk to Mike, and she asks her daughter, who is busy working on a project for school consisting of building the Trojan horse out of popsicle sticks, what she would feel if she used her child support money to pay for plastic surgery. Julie tells her mom to stop being so nervous, as she's only asking him out for dinner, which is no big deal.
Susan tells her she's right, and then asks her if that's her project for school, going on to say that she once made a White House out of sugar cubes. Julie tells her to stop stalling and go, before Mike figures out he can do better. Susan is surprised at her comeback, and asks her why she even fought for custody of her. Julie says she was using her to hurt dad. Susan says "Oh, that's right", kisses her in the head, and nervously leaves the house. Julie smiles Susan knocks on Mike's door, and he answers. They greet each other, and Susan asks if he's busy. He tells he's not, and asks what's up. She starts to try and ask him out, but she takes her sweet time, in a giggly girlish shy way... and is then stopped cold by the sight of Edie showing up at the door.
Susan is very surprised to see her there, and asks what she is up to. Edie tells her she'd been making some ambrosia, but she made too much and thought she'd bring some over to Mike. Edie then asks what's going on, and Mike says Susan was just about to ask him something. Susan is motionless and mute for a while there, until she finally comes out and tells him that she has a clog. In the pipe. Mike tells her he'll go get his tools, and Susan is surprised that he wants to go over now, and tells him he has company. Edie, catching on to Susan's game, tells her she doesn't mind. Mike says he'll be over in two minutes, and the two of them close the door, leaving a horrified Susan rushing back to her home.
In the Mayer kitchen, Susan and Julie are stuffing hair from a comb down the kitchen sink's drain, and Julie tells her mother it's not enough to clog it. She tells her to put in some peanut butter. And cooking oil. And olives. But it's to no avail, the pipes won't clog up.
The doorbell is rang, and Susan is terrified to find that Mike is already there and that he can see them through a small window leading to the entrance of the house. She asks herself what she is going to stuff with the sink... and she then notices Julie's Trojan horse project on the kitchen table.
Later, Mike is seen lying down on the kitchen's floor, with his upper body inside the pipes' area, and he removes part of the pipe and reveals to Susan that problem seems to be that someone stuck a few popsicle sticks down there. Susan tells him she's told Julie a million times to not play in the kitchen. "Kids, you know?", she says, and Mike laughs. Julie watches them from the stairs, and gives her mom an angry look. Susan looks apologetic but desperate.
At the Saddle Ranch Chop House, the Van de Kamps are all sitting down at a dinner table, and the waiter tells them he'll be right back with the drinks and the plates for the salad bar. After he leaves, Bree reminds her children to put napkins on their laps, and Andrew tells them the place has videogames, so maybe he and his sister could just go play before the food comes. Bree tries to tell him it's family time, but Rex lets them go off and play. The kids leave, and Bree tells her husband (whilst polishing the silverwear with her napkin) that she knows he thinks she's mad over them coming to this place, but she's not. She understands that he and the kids needed a change of pace, something fun, and she gets that. They should, however, have something healthy for dinner the following night, and she's thinking about cooking them chicken saltimbocca. Rex interrupts her by saying he wants a divorce. Bree is surprised. Rex explains that he just can't live in this detergent commercial anymore. Before Bree can respond, the waiter shows up with the plates and tells them that the salad bar is across the room, and they can help themselves. Rex thanks him, and Bree composes herself and tells her husband that she'll go get him his salad. Rex can't believe her elusiveness.
Bree walks past Martha Huber, who's dining by herself and notices her neighbor. She stops slurping her drink, gets up and walks up to Bree, who's preparing Rex's salad. Martha greets her loudly, which catches Bree off-guard, and asks her how she's doing, since they didn't get a chance to talk at Mary Alice's wake.
Bree longed to share the truth about her husband's painful betrayal. But sadly for Bree, admitting defeat was not an option.
Bree envisions her husband at her table, as she takes some time to answer Mrs. Huber's question, but them promptly tells her with a smile that everything's just great.
Shortly afterwards, Bree sits down at the table and gives Rex his salad plate, telling him she got him the honey mustard dressing, as the ranch looked just a little bit suspect. Rex starts eating and asks his wife if they are gonna talk about what he said, and Bree, as she breaks the bread, tells him, "If you think I wanna discuss the dissolution of my marriage in a place where
the restrooms are labeled "Chicks" and "Dudes", you're out of your mind." Rex starts feeling strange, and asks her what's in the salad. She doesn't get what he means, and he reveals to her that the salad has onions. Bree is confused, and Rex tells her she put onions in his salad. He gets up, but accidentally grabs the table cloth, and he then collapses on the floor and the cloth and everything on top of it falls on him. Bree is surprised, but she then realizes her mistake and says "Oh, wait..."
Later that night, Zach Young is sleeping in his bed when he wakes up from a strange sound. He gets up from the bed, puts on his glasses and looks out the window.
The sound that awakened my son was something he'd heard only once before, many years ago, when he was quite young.
Zach walks out of the house, into the backyard, and approaches the pool area. The pool is now completely empty of water, and his father is seen breaking the pool's floor with a pickaxe.
But he recognized it instantly.
Zach stands by the pool's edge, confused, and Paul is stopped by the sight of his son.
It was the sound of a family secret.
|Mary Alice Young|
However, a sweaty Paul keeps digging up, as Zach looks on.
Seven days after my funeral, life on Wisteria Lane finally returned to normal. Which, for some of my friends... was unfortunate.
|Mary Alice Young|
Over at 4355 Wisteria Lane, the Scavo household, Lynette is seen spoon-feeding her youngest child, Penny. Penny, who is covered in baby food, plays with her spoon, and accidentally projects peaches-flavored paste all over her mother's face. One of the twins shows up at the door, excitedly calling his mother's attention, and a frustrated Lynette asks "Now, what?"; the twin reveals that his father's home. Tom walks in, carrying Parker and the other twin with him, as well as his bags. Lynette is relieved, and they greet each other. Lynette picks up the baby and tells him she wasn't expecting him for a week. He says he has to get back to "Frisco" in the morning, but he says he got her call, and adds that she sounded a little frazzled. They kiss, and she says it's been a little rough. He notices she's covered in peaches, and the kids ask if he's brought them any presents. Tom takes out a football from his bag, much to their excitement, and tells them to go practice outside for 20 minutes. He throws the ball at them, and immediately afterwards we see the Scavo couple entering their bedroom, repeatedly kissing.
Tom grabs Lynette, as she puts her legs around him, and then they both fall to the bed, with Tom on top of his wife. She knows what his intentions are, and tells him he must be kidding, given that she's exhausted, she looks terrible and she's covered in peaches. He tells her it doesn't matter, because he has to have her. Lynette is none too excited about this, and asks him if she can just lie there. He says "Absolutely"; she tells him she loves him, and he says that back to her. Lynette then stops him as he's about to take his pants off by saying that she was having some problems with swelling so the doctor took her off the pill, which means he's gonna have to put on a condom. Tom isn't keen on the idea, and tells her "What's the big deal? Let's risk it." When Lynette hears this, she punches him in the face, and he falls to her side. She then grabs a plush toy and hits him with it.
Bree and Rex are seen in a hospital bedroom. Rex is lying on the patient bed, and Bree is sitting beside him. Rex tells her "I can't believe you tried to kill me", to which Bree replies "Yes, well, I feel badly about that. I told you, Mrs. Huber came over and I got distracted. It was a mistake." He asks her since when does she make mistakes; she asks what he means by that, and he tells her it means that he's sick of her being so damn perfect all the time: the bizarre way her hair doesn't move, her making the bed in the morning before he's even used the bathroom...
she's changed from a woman who used to drink milk out of the carton, and burn toast, and laugh, to a plastic suburban housewife with her pearls and her spatula who says things like "We owe the Hendersons a dinner".
Bree is saddened by this, and her husbands asks her where the woman he fell in love with is. He needs her; and not this cold, plastic thing she's become. Bree doesn't reply; she simply grabs the vase of flowers by the bed and takes it to the bathroom, claiming they need water. Rex appears to be frustrated. Inside the bathroom, Bree turns on the water fawcet, filling the vase, and then she starts to cry.
Bree sobbed quietly in the restroom for five minutes. But her husband never knew. Because when Bree finally emerged... she was perfect.
|Mary Alice Young|
Bree comes out of the bathroom, with a big pearly-white smile, holding the vase with the flowers.
Nighttime on Wisteria Lane. Carlos is kneeled down by the lawn in the front yard of his house, dressed up in a suit, and Gabrielle gets out of the house, in a pink gown. Carlos asks her if John was there that day, to which she replies that he was. He states that the lawn hasn't been mowed, so he's getting a real gardener. Gabrielle tells him that it's dark, so he just can't tell if the lawn's been mowed or not. He insists that it hasn't, and tells her to feel the grass. She dismisses his request, and tells him that they have to go because they're late. He gives the grass another look. At the mansion where the party is being held, the Solis couple is seen entering the scene. Carlos throws his car keys at the valet and tells him to "take care of it". Shortly afterwards, Carlos spots Tanaka, and tells Gabrielle that it's time for him to go and do his "dance". She wishes him good luck and they kiss.
After he leaves, Gabrielle intercepts a waiter, slips a $20 bill in his breast pocket, and asks him to make sure that the man who just walked away has a drink in his hand all night long. He says "Yes, man",
and walks away. Gabrielle then proceeds to leave the party and drive back home. She opens up her garage door from her car and parks right in front of it. Then, she takes the lawn mower out and mowns the grass. Later, she gets back to the party, and notices that Carlos hasn't moved, he's still where she left him, talking with Tanaka and his associates, and drinking. She feels very relieved, and when she adjusts her hairdo, she notices she has a bit of grass over her ear, which she immediately takes off.
The following morning, Carlos gets out of his house to go to work, and notices something is different. He kneels down and feels the grass. He's confused, but shakes it off and heads off, as Gaby watches him from her balcony, sighing with relief and contentment.
Both Susan and Mrs. Huber are seen in the same aisle at a local supermarket. Susan tries to get past Mrs. Huber without her noticing it, but to no avail, as Martha spots and greets her. Susan asks her how she's doing, but Martha tells her she's not too good, and she's trying to find something to soothe her stomach. Susan asks if it's upset, and Martha says "Yeah", and explains that she had a terrible macaroni and cheese at the wake, which has been running through her ever since. A coy Susan acts sympathetic. Martha adds that she's going to need to be at her best, since Edie Britt's son will be spending the night over at her house. Susan is curious about this, and Martha explains that apparently Edie will be having a gentleman over for dinner, and she plans on entertaining him into the wee hours. Susan is horrified and walks away, leaving behind her store cart. Martha picks up some antacid, and asks Susan if she's ever tried it, before noticing she's no longer there.
Back at her house, at night, Susan is discussing what Martha told her with her daughter Julie. She is walking around in the circles in the kitchen, telling her "Mike can't like Edie better than me, he just can't!"; Julie tells her she doesn't know what's going on, maybe they're just having dinner. Susan gives her a look, and Julie says "You're right. They're doing it."
Shortly afterwards, Susan is seen walking down the street, holding a measuring cup. She reaches Edie's house, and gently knocks on the door, then calling out for her.
She doesn't wait long before going around the house and sneaking in through the back yard. She opens the back door and lets herself in, quietly saying she needs to borrow sugar. Susan then notices the romantic setup, complete with burning candles, a table filled with glasses of wine and chocolate, as well as Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On" playing in the background, not to mention the pieces of clothing, including Edie's pink bra and panties, scattered over the living room. She overhears Edie's moans as she's having sexual intercourse in the upper floor. Susan is frustrated.
And just like that, the possibility Susan had clung to, the maybe of Mike Delfino, was gone forever.
Susan drops the measuring cup to the floor and sits down on the sofa, looking as though she's about to cry. She then throws the panties behind her, and they knock over one of the candles, which falls into the curtains.
And despite the precariousness of her situation, Susan took a moment to mourn her loss.
Susan takes a piece of chocolate and eats it, as a fire breaks out behind her, consuming the curtains. Susan starts to smell something odd, and when she turns her head to the back she is horrified to find the curtains lit on fire. Susan doesn't know what to do, and waves her arms around, in a pathetic attempt to put out the fire. She then grabs two glasses of wine from the coffee table and throws the wine at the fire, which just spikes it more. She puts the glasses down and grabs the men's jeans that were on the couch, launching them at the fire repeatedly.
It didn't take Susan long to realize this was just not her night.
However, the pants are caught on fire, and she instinctively throws them onto the coffee table, spreading the fire even further. From the upper level, Edie asks if there is somebody out there, and then the smoke alarm starts beeping. Edie is apparently alarmed, and Susan rushes out of the house without anyone seeing her... leaving behind the measuring cup.
Later, the fire brigade has made its way to Wisteria Lane, and the firefighters are trying to put down the flames. Edie comes around a fire truck, covered in a blanket, and is saddened and shocked by the sight of her home going up in flames. Martha, with her hair in rollers and wearing a nightgown, is telling a neighbor that Edie and the man she was with left the candles unattended, and she got lucky, as she could have been killed.
Susan walks up to her three best friends, Lynette, Gabrielle and Bree, who are discussing how Edie had nothing on, just in front of the yellow tape. Lynette tells her friends that she was having sex with some guy when the fire started. Gaby asks what happened to him, to which she replies that he got smoke inhalation, and he's at the hospital. The women are shocked, particularly Susan, who feels guilty. Bree asks her if she's alright, as she looks awful, to which she responds that she is, she just feels really bad for Edie. Gaby tells her not to worry about Edie, saying that she's a strong lady. Lynette agrees, and says that Edie will get through it, she'll find a way to survive. Bree adds that they all do. With this said, the women all return to their husbands, and Susan leans against a cop's car, sitting in its hood. Then, a man is seen approaching her: Mike Delfino. He asks what happened, and Susan is surprised to see him.
And suddenly, there he was. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes.
She stands straight up and begins to tell him she thought he was... but then changes the talk to asking him where he was instead. He explains that he just got back from the movies. "So, Edie had a fire, huh?", he asks, and Susan says yeah, but she's fine now. "Everything is fine now." She gives him a great big smile.
And just like that, Susan was happy. Life was suddenly full of possibilities.
Mike smiles too. The two of them stand together and look at the fire.
Later, Mike is seen entering his house.
Not to mention a few unexpected surprises.
Mike picks up his phone and dials a number. A man answers on the other side, and asks if he's found anything yet. Mike says he hasn't yet, but he's definitely getting close. With this said, he takes out a gun from his waist and places it on the table.
The following morning, Gabrielle, carrying a box, and Bree, some clothes, are seen getting out of Mary Alice's house. Lynette is seen putting some stuff in the trunk of a car, and Susan reveals that she brought champagne, as she figured they could make a toast.
The next day, my friends came together to pack away my clothes, my personal belongings, and what was left of my life.
Gabrielle puts down her box, and takes a glass, and Bree puts the clothes in the car. Susan then hands her a glass too, and then tells the ladies to lift them up. "To Mary Alice, a good friend and neighbor", she says, "Wherever you are, we hope you've found peace." They all toast to Mary Alice and drink. Lynette tells them "Let's get this show on the road." Gabrielle then asks them if they've checked out Mary Alice's clothes. She reveals their friend was a size 8, despite having always told her she was a size 6. As she takes out some pants, a letter is accidentally thrown to the floor. Gaby says they've now found the skeleton in her closet.
Not quite, Gabrielle. Not quite.
Bree picks up the letter, and Gaby asks what it is. She says it's a letter addressed to Mary Alice. Gaby takes the letter and starts to open it.
How ironic. To have something I tried so desperately to keep secret treated so casually.
Lynette notices what her friend is doing and tells her that's private. Gaby says it was open, so what's the big deal? Her friends have to smile at her nerve. Gaby and Lynette are confused at what they read, and the former hands Susan the letter, so she and Bree can check it out, while Lynette takes a look at the envelope.
The note, written in a violet stationary, reads:
"I KNOW WHAT YOU DID
IT MAKES ME SICK
I'M GOING TO TELL"
Susan asks what it means, and Lynette says she doesn't know, and tells them to check out the postmark, holding the envelope to their faces. Bree notes that Mary Alice got it the day she died. Gaby starts to ask if they think this is why she...
I'm so sorry, girls. I never wanted you to be burdened with this.
|Mary Alice Young|
The women are all confused. Susan, holding the note, says:
Oh, Mary Alice, what did you do?
The camera starts gliding away from them, as the women exchange confused looks and look around suspiciously, while everyone else around them goes about their lives, unbeknownst to the twist the ladies have now been faced with, and enjoying yet another beautiful sunny day in suburbia.
Creation and development
In 2002, Marc Cherry was in a precarious financial situation and was having trouble finding a job. He commented, "I was broke, unable to get even an interview for a writing job, and seriously concerned about my future. I had just turned forty and was starting to wonder if I was one of those deluded writers that wander around Hollywood, convincing themselves they're talented when all the evidence points to the contrary." While watching television coverage of the Andrea Yates trials with his mother, Cherry turned to her and asked, "Can you imagine being so desperate that you would do that to your children?", to which his mother replied, "I've been there." Cherry was intrigued by the idea that a "perfectly sane, rational woman could have the life she wanted, being a wife and mother... and still have moments of insanity"; he began writing the pilot episode soon after. Cherry originally developed the concept as a half-hour comedy. However, after his agent was arrested for embezzlement, Cherry signed with Paradigm Talent Agency, and was advised to rewrite the script as a soap opera. Cherry completed the first draft of the pilot in April 2002, and pitched the script to CBS, NBC, Fox, HBO, Showtime, and Lifetime, all of which turned it down.
Following script rewrites, Cherry pitched the series to ABC, who picked up the pilot. ABC executives were, however, concerned about the title of the series, which Cherry had selected before even writing the script. They suggested renaming the series "Wisteria Lane" or "The Secret Lives of Housewives", but Cherry insisted on keeping the original title. He later commented, "I put "desperate" [into the title] to try to indicate, however subtly... I'm going to have some fun with the imagery, to take it to some interesting places. Most critics got the joke. Some people see the word "housewives" and it pushes a button in them and they seem to lose all reason." The project was officially announced on October 23, 2003, as a cross between American Beauty and Knots Landing. While Desperate Housewives, along with fellow new series Grey's Anatomy and Lost, would later help reverse ABC's flagging fortune, network executives Lloyd Braun and Susan Lyne were fired shortly after greenlighting these risky and expensive pilots.
Casting for Desperate Housewives began in February 2004. Director Charles McDougall reported seeing around 150 "very good and determined women" auditioning for the four leads. Eva Longoria was the first actor cast in a lead role, landing the part of Gabrielle Solis, a materialistic ex-model, after two auditions. Longoria, an unknown soap opera actress at the time, stated that prior to her audition, she had not read the entire script. She accounted, "Marc Cherry asks, 'So what did you think of the script?', like, the whole thing. And I said, 'Well I didn't read the script. I only read my part'." And Marc Cherry goes, 'I knew you were Gabrielle at that moment because it was such a Gabrielle thing to say.'" Roselyn Sánchez also auditioned for the role. Teri Hatcher was cast in the role of Susan Mayer, a single mother looking for love, after a second audition for ABC network executives. Cherry commended Hatcher's audition, calling it "the best audition I've ever seen in network." Actors originally considered for the role of single mother Susan Mayer included Courteney Cox, Calista Flockhart, Mary-Louise Parker, and Sela Ward. Julia Louis-Dreyfus also expressed interest in the role, but network executives felt she was not right for the part.
Cherry offered the role of Bree Van de Kamp, a "perfect homemaker" reminiscent of The Stepford Wives, to Dana Delany three times. Delany rejected the role, as it was too similar to her character on Pasadena, but would later join the series in its fourth season as Katherine Mayfair. Marcia Cross was cast as Bree. Roma Downey, Jeri Ryan and Stacey Travis (who later played the semi-recurring role of Jordana Geist) were also considered for the role, while Nicollette Sheridan auditioned for the part and was cast as neighborhood tramp Edie Britt instead. On her audition, Sheridan recalled, "At the end of the reading, the director looked at me and said, 'No, no, I see you as Edie.' I said, 'Oh, I see, I come in a housewife and mother of two and leave the slut.'" The Edie character was originally intended to be a small role, but it was expanded once Sheridan was cast.
Felicity Huffman was cast as a Lynette Scavo, a frustrated stay-at-home mother of four, after talking about her own experiences as a mother during her audition. Cherry called Huffman's casting "very lucky", commenting that "within fifteen minutes she had the part." Alex Kingston read for the role of Lynette, and has since alleged that she was denied the role for being too heavy. The role of the series' narrator, Mary Alice Young, was given to Sheryl Lee. Cross originally auditioned for the role before being cast as Bree. Jeanne Tripplehorn and Heather Locklear also auditioned for leading roles.
Ricardo Antonio Chavira was cast as Gabrielle's wealthy and condescending husband, Carlos Solis, while James Denton was cast as Susan's love interest and new neighbor, plumber Mike Delfino. Kyle Searles joined the cast as John Rowland, the Solises' teenage gardener with whom Gabrielle is having an affair, and Andrea Bowen was hired to play Susan's teenage daughter, Julie Mayer. Mark Moses was cast as Paul Young, Mary Alice's mysterious husband, and Cody Kasch as their troubled teenage son Zach Young. Michael Reilly Burke was cast as Bree's dissatisfied doctor husband, Rex Van de Kamp.
The pilot also introduced several recurring cast members. Christine Estabrook acted as nosy neighbor Martha Huber, a role originally intended for an Asian-American actress. Doug Savant made his first appearance as Tom Scavo, Lynette's husband who is always away on business. Savant later became a series regular for the second season, a promise Cherry made to him when he signed on for the first season. Shawn Pyfrom and Joy Lauren each made their debut appearances as Andrew and Danielle Van de Kamp, Bree's defiant teenage children. Cherry stated that casting the two roles was difficult because of their limited involvement in the first few episodes of the series. Additionally, Brent Kinsman, Shane Kinsman and Zane Huett were cast respectively as Preston, Porter and Parker Scavo, Lynette and Tom's three sons.
Filming and subsequent casting changes
Filming for the pilot was initially intended to take place in an actual Los Angeles neighborhood, until the production team realized the difficulties that would ensue. Instead they chose Colonial Street, a backlot street set at Universal Studios Hollywood. The house sets on Colonial Street had been used in numerous film and television productions as early as 1946. Many of the sets, whose styles ranged from contemporary to Victorian to ranch, were remodeled to create a uniform neighborhood. Cherry and production designer Thomas A. Walsh wanted the street to recall the Eisenhower era and convey traditional American values, but appear modern at the same time. Walsh viewed episodes of Father Knows Best, My Three Sons and Leave It to Beaver, among other television series, to capture the visual style of classic conservative America. Walsh commented, "We were trying to honor that sensibility and at the same time create an everyplace that was neither a red state nor a blue state." Refurbishments of the house sets, which included building interior rooms, cost around $700,000. While Walsh strove for a visually unified look for the street as a whole, he carefully designed the interior of each home to reflect the tastes and budgets of the characters.
According to McDougall, another director was originally hired to work on the episode, but quit after learning casting would be a group decision. Filming took place over thirteen days in March 2004. During filming, McDougall suggested removing pop culture references to ensure the pilot had "more of a timeless feel." ABC picked up the series for 13 episodes on May 18, 2004. In June, ABC called for three starring cast members to be recast. Jesse Metcalfe replaced Searles as John Rowland, as producers wanted to add more sexual appeal to the role "to justify why (Gabrielle) was having an affair." Metcalfe had previously read for the role during the initial casting process. The role of Rex Van de Kamp was given to Steven Culp, who was the first choice for the part, but was unavailable when the original pilot was filmed. Brenda Strong took over the role of Mary Alice, as producers thought that Lee was not right for the part. Strong commented on the casting change for her character, explaining, "I think it was a conceptual shift ... There certainly wasn't something wrong with what [Lee] did. It was just that instead of vanilla they wanted chocolate, and I happened to be chocolate." Scenes featuring the original actors were refilmed with their replacements, however scenes featuring Burke and Searles in the background remained in the final cut of the pilot.
The very first scene shot for the original pilot was the Van de Kamp family's sequence at the Saddle Ranch Chop House, according to creator Marc Cherry's DVD commentary for the episode.
To promote the series, ABC issued a laundry-themed campaign and purchased advertisement space in magazines such as InStyle and People and on dry-cleaning bags across the country. The show's raciness prompted several advertisers to remove their commercials from the broadcast, but they were quickly replaced.
The pilot premiered at 9 pm Eastern Time Zone (ET) on October 3, 2004, one week after its intended broadcast date. The premiere drew 21.6 million viewers and an 8.9 rating/21 share among adults 18 to 49 years of age. It was the highest debut for an ABC series since Spin City in 1996, and for any non-spinoff series since NBC's Inside Schwartz in 2001, as well as the most-watched debut of a drama series in eleven years. The pilot was the most-watched program of the week and also had the highest rating among the demographic of women aged 18 to 49. Additionally, it was the most-watched program among men aged 18 to 34. In the United Kingdom, the pilot aired on Channel 4 on January 5, 2005, and drew 4.8 million viewers, the highest premiere for a drama series on the network since ER nine years earlier.
Refreshingly original, bracingly adult and thoroughly delightful, Desperate Housewives is like the answer to a TV prayer you didn't know you'd made. You just know life was much duller before it arrived.
|Robert Bianco, USA Today|
The pilot was met with extremely positive critical reception. Robert Bianco of USA Today gave the series' premiere four out of four stars, commenting that it was as "involving as any new drama and funnier than any new sitcom [because it] matches high visual style with a witty-but-never arch sensibility." He highlighted the performances of the six leading actresses, writing, "Individually, each is terrific; combined, they're an irresistible feminine force"; he further praised Hatcher's "revelatory performance." Bianco also noted that Cherry avoided making the pilot campy. The San Francisco Chronicle's Tim Goodman complimented the pilot's tonal diversity while expressing concern that American audiences would "tune in, get freaked out by the scattershot emotional chords and flip over to something safer." However, he praised Cherry's writing as well as the acting, declaring, "There are almost too many things to love in Desperate Housewives." In his review of the episode, Matthew Gilbert of The Boston Globe commended the episode for its "marvelous tonal elasticity, as it stretches from sharp satire to dishy soap opera to tragique tribute and back again."
Justin Ravitz of PopMatters called the series a "cleverly trashy postmodern soap", and credited it for reviving the soap opera genre, which he felt had disappeared but still suited American culture. He compared the pilot to Sex and the City, declaring, "could potentially replace the departed Sex as the TV Sunday ritual for women and gay men everywhere, although DH is the guiltier pleasure of the two." However, he noted the contrasting tones and dynamics between the two shows, and stated that the friendships between Desperate Housewives's four leading women seemed "tenuous," opining, "the sisterly, sugar-swapping connection between the surviving women is superficial, and clearly vulnerable to shifting alliances, acts of betrayal and crowd-pleasing cat-fights." Brian Lowry of Variety called the pilot "oodles of fun." He complimented the cast, stating that while Hatcher provides "the emotional core" of the series, "nearly everyone is intriguing in one way or another", and predicted that Eva Longoria would become the show's breakout star. However, Lowry noted that Desperate Housewives may be "a little too smart for its own good", and expressed concern over the series' "soapy elements." Tom Shales of The Washington Post praised the pilot, assessing, "In visual style, witty language, borderline surrealism and overall mad attitude, [the series] stands on a mountaintop all its own, the best new drama of the season and perhaps the best new comedy, too." He complimented Cross' and Hatcher's performances, as well as the writing for the Mary Alice's narrations.
The pilot episode won three Emmy Awards: "Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series" (Felicity Huffman), "Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series" (Charles McDougall), and "Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series" (Michael Berenbaum). Marc Cherry was nominated for "Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series". Berenbaum also won for an American Cinema Editor's award for his work on the episode. McDougall was also nominated for a Directors Guild of America award for directing the episode.
- Brenda Strong (Mary Alice Young) is physically seen in this episode, marking her 1st physical appearance in the series.
- This episode introduces all 13 main characters for the first season: Susan, Lynette, Bree, Gabrielle, Edie, Mary Alice, Mike, Rex, Carlos, Paul, Julie, Zach and John. It also introduces Tom and Andrew as recurring characters, who would go on to become main regulars. Future main character Karl is also introduced in this episode, as portrayed by an uncredited extra.
- Several of the series' supporting regulars are introduced in this episode as recurring characters: Preston, Porter, Parker, Penny and Danielle.
- "Soak Up the Sun" by Sheryl Crow is playing when Susan and Julie are in their home after Julie gets her soccerball from Mike Delfino's backyard.
- "Let's Get it On" by Marvin Gaye is playing when Susan walks into Edie's home.
- In this episode, Mary Alice pronounces Susan's last name as "Meyer". However, in the rest of the series, her name is generally pronounced "Mayer". This is due to the fact that during the shooting of the pilot, Susan's last name was supposed to be Meyer. It was later changed to Mayer.
- The opening credits were cut for the series premiere. The extended opening sequence would first appear in the following episode. However, the title card and the beginning of the show's theme are still featured.
- The credits for all the "starring" and "guest starring" actors in this episode are all shared. Hatcher shares her credit with Huffman, and Cross with Longoria, side by side. Afterwards, the remaining actors are all divided into groups of either 2 or 3 names. This is the only time anything of the sort happens in the series with the main credits. Starting with episode 1.02, the first to featured the full opening credits sequence, the names for the regular ensemble are all listed separately, and in episode 1.23, the first after the pilot to not feature the whole opening sequence, also includes the names billed separately, for the main actors.
- Edie's welcome gift is a dish of sausage Puttanesca. Puttanesca is an Italian word that resembles "prostitute". Folklore has it that in Naples, prostitutes used to make a pasta sauce that required little or no cooking, and used their dishes as one more way of appealing to potential customers. The fact that Edie is bringing this dish is an allusion to her reputation.
- At Pitchcon 2012, Marc Cherry detailed how he had written up to 17 drafts of the pilot script before he was content completely with it. Almost all the networks had passed on the script. It is believed it was passed upon due to being billed a "comedy" instead of a "soap oprea with comedic influences." Once it had been called a "Soap Oprea", ABC bought the script.
Bloopers and continuity errors
- The sets used in this episode are not necessarily the ones used later in the show. Lynette's house is the better example, as it's clearly smaller and different. Susan's kitchen is also different, and the stairs in her house are positioned differently from the rest of the series, and so is Bree's dining room.
- Throughout the episode, Gabrielle's living room fireplace disappears and reappears, as though shots of both the unaired and screened pilot episodes were edited together.
- In this episode, Mary Alice says she died on a Thursday. However, on her tombstone, which is seen in the following episode, it says she died on September 26, 2004. This date was a Sunday.
- When Martha looks through the window and sees Mary Alice dead, Mary Alice is laying on her left side with the gun in her right hand. First, she shot herself in the right side of the head, but no bullet hole is seen, and secondly, if she did shoot herself in the left side, which was on the floor, she should have been holding the gun in her other hand.
- After the title card, Kyle Searles, the original portrayer of John Rowland, can be seen walking up to Mary Alice's wake, crossing the street. He is then seen at Mary Alice's wake, when Julie approaches the other teens.
- When we are first introduced to Lynette, she is carrying a dinner plate with fried chicken, using both hands. However, once her flashback sequence is done with, she is suddenly seen strolling her baby.
- When we are treated to flashbacks of Susan's life before her divorce, Karl is seen coming down the stairs, which are located on a different side of the house from where they'd be featured in the subsequent episodes.
- When Lynette gets into the pool to fetch her children, Michael Reilly Burke, the original portrayer of Rex Van de Kamp, is seen in the background. Clearly, this scene was not re-shot and perhaps not even re-edited before its usage in the screened pilot. A similar mistake happens later on in the episode, when the women are all standing in front of Edie's burning house. Rex is in the background with the other men, and Bree walks up to him at some point, but it is also Burke instead of Culp.
- When Lynette comes up from the pool during the wake (getting her boys) she is still in her high heels, but the shot afterwards, when she gets her baby back, she is all of a sudden barefoot.
- Mike's door is made of brown wood, but in later episodes it is white and has a screen door.
- When Lynette is shopping in the supermarket, right after she loses track of the twins, she is shown pushing the shopping cart down the aisle and in the seat there's only a pink blanket; however, in a following shot, with no explanation whatsoever, her daughter is sitting in the seat, with the blanket, and Parker is riding in the basket.
- After Natalie Klein asks Lynette at the grocery store whether she loves being a mom, she gives her a confused and worried look for a while, but in the very next shot, her face is automatically changed to a smiling expression.
- When Gabrielle and John have just finished having sex, they are positioned in front of a very large window, leading to a balcony, through which one could see perfectly, not necessarily from the ground level, but from upper levels perhaps.
- After Susan sits on Edie's couch, just after she throws the bra behind her and knocks the candle over, a crew member in blue jeans can briefly be seen moving on the floor behind the couch to the right.
Gallery of photographic stills released to promote the episode.
- "Suburbia sizzles in 'Housewives'", MSNBC, September 30, 2004
- "Desperate Networks is a must-read for TV fans", TV Squad, May 4, 2006
- "How Desperate Women Saved Desperate Writer", The New York Times, October 23, 2004
- "Desperately Seeking a Ratings Hit", The Daily Telegraph, January 5, 2005
- "Desperately Seeking a Ratings Hit", The Daily Telegraph, January 5, 2005
- "From domestic to 'Desperate'", USA Today, September 30, 2004
- "A Stroll Down Wisteria Lane with Marc Cherry and Meredith Vieira, season 1 DVD extra
- "ABC's 'Housewives' Leaves Competition in the Dustbuster", The Washington Post, October 5, 2004
- "Development Update: October 23", The Futon Critic, October 23, 2003
- "A good season, with reason", USA Today, April 26, 2005
- "The man who discovered 'Lost' - and found himself out of a job", The Daily Telegraph, January 15, 2009
- "ABC hit hold when TV trio launched", Variety, February 13, 2011
- Development update (February 9)
- McDougall on The Daily Telegraph (January 5, 2005)
- "Longoria: I’m desperate to be a housewife", MSNBC, October 23, 2005
- "Star Tracker: Eddie Cibrian, Mariah Carey and Roselyn Sanchez", Latina, April 25, 2011
- "Scrubs: After Michael J. Fox, It's Courtney Cox" (July 10, 2008)
- "Celebrity Yearbook - Calista Flockhart (December 1, 2009)"
- "Mary-Louise Parker", The AV Club, June 17, 2009
- "Sela Ward: I Could Have Been a Housewife, People, August 4, 2005
- "Desperate Networks is a must-read for TV fans", TV Squad, May 4, 2006
- "'Housewives' has the recipe for a bubbly evening soap", USA Today, September 30, 2010
- "Tuned In: 'Desperate' measures include adding Dana Delany to cast", The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 17, 2007
- "In Step With... Dana Delany", Parade, April 17, 2008
- Audio commentary by Marc Cherry on the episode "Guilty", from the first season's DVD set
- "On 'Desperate,' the die is cast", New York Daily News, November 22, 2004
- ABC.com's "Ask Desperate Housewives: Season 5, Part 1"
- "Dissing the desperately thin 'Housewives'", MSNBC, May 31, 2006
- "Alex Kingston slams skinniness of the Desperate Housewives", Fametastic, May 23, 2006
- "Development Update: March 3", The Futon Critic
- "Cross Wanted To Be Desperate Housewives Narrator", Contactmusic.com, April 18, 2006
- "Heather Help Us", EW, December 7, 2004
- “Development Update: February 26”, The Futon Critic
- “Development Update: March 4”, The Futon Critic
- "For the Youngs, family function is dysfunction", USA Today, September 2, 2004
- "Development Update: March 8", The Futon Critic
- "Desperate Hubby Here to Stay", TV Guide, February 25, 2005
- Audio commentary on the pilot, by Marc Cherry
- "The Studio Tour: Colonial Street - History", Universal Studios Hollywood
- "'Desperate' life on Wisteria Lane", Variety, January 15, 2009
- Desperate Housewives: Behind Closed Doors, pages 152-153
- "Housewives with designs", Los Angeles Times, December 16, 2004
- 'Touchstone Television, page 174
- "2004 Broadcast Upfront Presentations: ABC, Part 1", The Futon Critic, May 18, 2004
- "Desperately seeking Metcalfe", USA Today, November 18, 2004
- Desperate Housewives: Behind Closed Doors, page 67
- Desperate Housewives: Behind Closed Doors, pages 96-99
- Desperate Housewives:Behind Closed Doors, page 90
- "Timeline of 'Desperate Housewives', Variety, January 15, 2009.
- "'Housewives,' 'Legal' Bows Bumped to October 3", The Futon Critic, August 11, 2004.
- "Timeline of 'Desperate Housewives'. Variety. January 15, 2009.
- "ABC's 'Housewives' starts strong", Boston Globe, October 6, 2004.
- "ABC Cleans Up With 'Desperate Housewives'". The Washington Post, October 6, 2004.
- "'Desperate Housewives' proves that sex sells in television ratings war", The Independent, January 7, 2005.
- "Desperately hoping this take on suburban despair survives", San Francisco Chronicle, October 1, 2004.
- "With 'Housewives,' dysfunction is delightful", The Boston Globe, October 2, 2004.
- Emmy Awards. Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Primetime Emmy Award Database → Person: Felicity Huffman, Program: Desperate Housewives.
- Emmy Awards. Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Primetime Emmy Award Database → Person: Charles McDougall, Program: Desperate Housewives.
- Emmy Awards. Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Primetime Emmy Award Database → Person: Michael Berenbaum, Program: Desperate Housewives.
- Emmy Awards. Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Primetime Emmy Award Database → Person: Marc Cherry, Program: Desperate Housewives, Category: Writing Comedy.
- "Directors Guild of America nominees". Digital Spy, January 14, 2005.