As Gabrielle (Eva Longoria) tells her husband in episode five of the seventh season of Desperate Housewives; “Susan (Teri Hatcher) is an artist, Lynette (Felicity Huffman) a great business woman, Bree (Marcia Cross) is the perfect homemaker. I was the beautiful one, and now I’m just plastic.”
She was referring to the nose job the others had just found out about, but isn’t plastic the word for all of these wonderful housewives? It is the main reason we love them so much, and season seven certainly lives up to its predecessors.
This season has seen the addition of Vanessa Williams to the cast as Lynette’s college roommate, Renee Perry. Williams fits in perfectly on Wisteria Lane. She has just been dumped by her professional-athlete husband, and is on the prowl. She brings with her some much needed cattiness, and provides plenty of sparks. Early on, Renee and Bree vie for the same man, with memorable results. The circus midget Bree sends to interrupt Renee’s date with the guy is one highlight.
In another development, Susan’s family is forced to rent out their house on Wisteria Lane, due to rough financial circumstances. The cheap apartment they are forced to live in is so humiliating to her that she takes her landlady up on a side job. “It’s not porn, it’s housework,” she explains. The site, “Va-Va-Va-Broom!” features scantily-clad women cleaning their homes. Although I have not checked, I imagine there probably is such a website out there. In any event, watching Susan try to make vacuuming sexy is pretty funny.
Paul Young (Mark Moses) is a key character throughout season seven. The disembodied voice of his deceased wife Mary Alice (Brenda Strong) has been the narrator of the show since its beginning. When the series debuted back in 2004, one of the central mysteries was about her death. Although everyone on Wisteria Lane believed her husband had killed her, it was ruled a suicide. To get Paul locked up, Mary Alice’s sister Felicia Tilmer (Harriet Sansom Harris) frames him for her murder by cutting her own fingers off, then leaving town.
The ruse is discovered in the first episode of season seven, and Paul is freed. He returns to Wisteria Lane with revenge in his heart. The housewives still believe he killed Mary Alice, and the stage is set for some delicious malice on everyone’s part.
Another key storyline involves the discovery that Gabrielle and Carlos Solis’ (Ricardo Antonio Chavira) daughter was accidentally switched at birth with the daughter of another couple. When the two couples meet and get to know their biological children, things get complicated.
Over the course of 23 episodes, there are a number of small plot twists that quickly come and go. My favorite of these in season seven involve Lynette’s mother Stella Wingfield (Polly Bergen). Ms. Bergen was last seen in a superb episode of The Sopranos titled “Camelot.” As always, she brings a wonderful presence to the screen.
Stella is living in a retirement home, and intends to wed Frank Kaminsky (Larry Hagman). Hagman is perfectly cast here, as something of an older JR Ewing. He is arrogant, sexist, and rich – the perfect combination. Although this interlude only lasts for two episodes, it is great.
It seems that every year people are ready to write off Desperate Housewives. And while it is true that the ratings have declined a bit since the program’s debut, there is still life in these women (and their writers). I think the addition of Vanessa Williams to the cast was a great move, and definitely added tension to the seventh season. We shall see what the ladies of Wisteria Lane have up their collective sleeves in just a few weeks, as the eighth and final season begins.