ABC’s Desperate Housewives finally came to an end last May after eight years on the air. The final batch of episodes is now available on DVD in a five-disc set, collecting all 23 episodes, plus bonus features.
As season eight begins, the four titular housewives, Susan (Teri Hatcher), Bree (Marcia Cross), Lynette (Felicity Huffman), and Gabi (Eva Longoria) are covering up the murder of Gabi’s abusive step-father, Alejandro (Tony Plano), by Gabi’s husband, Carlos (Ricardo Antonio Chavira). They each handle their part in the shared secret burial in different ways. Carlos wants forgiveness from God, Susan becomes withdrawn. Bree is nervous because her detective boyfriend (Jonathan Cake) is on the case. Lynette just wants physical comfort, made difficult by her separation from husband, Tom (Doug Savant). Gabi, alone, is at peace, knowing first hand the atrocities Alejandro committed against her, and feels only peace with his demise.
Much of season eight, like other seasons before it, is about a mystery surrounding a murder. One by one, others begin to learn of the housewives’ dastardly deed, including the men in their lives. Making this killing so personal, with all of them involved in the coverup, forces more strain and stress between them than in previous stories, in which they could present a mostly united front against whatever danger came to Wisteria Lane. It is fitting that they are tested so severely in the end, allowing them to come out the other end stronger than ever.
That’s not to say that there are not costs to this act. There are, as the truth comes out in peaces, and eventually certain things are exposed. Others die. Secrets can never stay hidden for long on Desperate Housewives, and that’s what makes it such soapy fun.
Of course, not all twenty-three hours are about Alejandro, as each housewife has additional challenges, one even losing a spouse well before the closing credits. Lynette has a marriage she’d like to save, and along with Susan, faces becoming a grandmother when their grown children hook up. Bree battles depression and suicidal thoughts, egged on by a stalker and the return of her ex, Orson (Kyle MacLachlan). Carlos must kick his alcohol habit. Neighbor Renee (Vanessa Williams) senses sparks between herself and Ben (Charles Mesure), but after he gets involved in the Alejandro story, the lies he tells Renee makes it hard for her to trust him. Plus, Ben is in bed with a loan shark. Fan favorite Karen McCluskey (Kathryn Joosten, who passed away in real life last spring) goes another round with cancer.
These are just some of the big stories in the final year. Each of these characters has shown so much growth, and as they overcome these latest hurdles, there is also a sense of finality, growing stronger near the end of the season, that reminds us that their story is almost over. Up until that point, yes, there are some weak spots, as has plagued Desperate Housewives sporadically over the years. Season eight is not the strongest season. But there are enough gems to satisfy most fans, and that includes the last installments.
I won’t spoil the ending, but I thought it was a fitting tribute with the return of many familiar faces, and it concluded exactly how it should have. Wisteria Lane is a hot bed of betrayal and intrigue, and no one who remains there will ever find true happiness.
The DVD is a bit sparse on features, sadly. There is a featurette with those involved reflecting on the time they spent making this show, which is definitely the best inclusion. Creator Marc Cherry does provide an audio commentary for the series finale, and there are bloopers and deleted scenes. These are nice, but I would have liked to have seen more.
Desperate Housewives The Complete Eighth and Final Season is available now.