Reading though Welcome to Wisteria Lane felt like reading through a collection of conversations I would have loved to have about the show, with friendly, humorous, and very frank friends. I got to explore themes such as the characters’ sexuality in Julie Kenner’s essay, “Sex and the Television Suburbs,” in which she explores the fact that although on a superficial level, the show seems cutting edge, its depiction of female sexuality is quite archaic. I also loved Laura Caldwell’s essay on cat fighting, aptly titled “Girl Power Witty or Cat Fight City?”, which once again underlined the archaic concept of the catfight that continues to survive even in today’s supposedly enlightened society.
The one essay that particularly stood out to me was the one penned by Whitney Gaskell, “Will the Real Bree Van de Kamp Please Stand Up”, in which contestants of a fake television game show, “Which One Is it?”, have to figure out which of three seemingly very different Brees is the real one: the perfect housewife, the sexpot and the spitfire – only to conclude that the three versions are part of the same whole. How often are we women of the twenty-first century given a certain, limited role to play? And if we choose to play a little out of the box, we are told that there is something wrong with us. Bombarded with images of the supposedly perfect, one-dimensional woman we are supposed to be, many women begin to wonder if there is something wrong with them, when in fact, they are just gloriously human.
Another essay that stuck another chord was Deanna Carlyle’s “America the Superficial? Watching Desperate Housewives with the Europeans,” which tackles the subject of the seeming dichotomy between America’s products, such as Desperate Housewives, which carry layers of themes and concepts, and America’s seeming superficiality. As a Canadian, I have heard way too many anti-America comments (granted, I hear a lot of ribbing about Canada, but that’s another topic of conversation) that are based on nothing more than weak assumptions. The way Carlyle explains it is pretty interesting: the way Americans are, for example, presenting details about their lives in the first meeting rather than being more reserved such as, say, Germans, is not superficial as much as it is a necessary way of life that developed because of the American way of doing things. Presenting details about their lives is a way for the very mobile and very multicultural Americans to get to immediately feel safe knowing that their new neighbor (the fifth in as many years) has common values and will not be disrupting the way of life around the neighborhood too much. As for the Germans, and the Europeans in general, although increasing in recent years, their mobility is nothing compared to that of Americans, explaining why this habit did not evolve as a part of culture – there was no need for it.