Desperate Housewives is contagious

Our household has been in the grip of a fever induced by the past two seasons of Desperate Housewives on video disc. Symptoms include lack of sleep, gasps of surprise and sudden laughter. My daughters have mutated into couch potatoes for the duration of the semestral break. My wife spends hours on end glued to the tv or the pc, following the misadventures of the ladies of Wisteria Lane (a play on hysteria ?)

My theory is that if you watch Desperate Housewives long and often enough, you begin to exhibit the colorful neuroses shown by the characters of this semi-sitcom, semi-soap opera about the implosion of American suburbia. When I tease my wife about it, she gets peeved. Which means my theory might be valid.

I have only seen odd snatches (no double-entendre intended) of past episodes and have found the situations original and hilarious. The meaty roles have gone to Marcia Cross as the uptight, obsessive-compulsive and ultimately tragic Bree and to Felicity Huffman as the feisty and independent-minded Lynette. Bree valiantly struggles to present a facade of normalcy as her entire world crumbles around her. Lynette defines her life both as a mother and as a successful advertising executive, and her discordant goals and desires make for some funny vignettes on the classic conflict between family and career.

Susan (Teri Hatcher) and Gabrielle (Eva Langoria) are stock characters in sitcoms and soaps. Susan is the klutzy, naive and good-hearted girl-woman still looking for Mr. Right despite her past heartaches. Gabrielle is the selfish, manipulative and devious trollop who finds some redemption in the end.

Desperate Housewives is not for everyone. Some might find its casual treatment of sex (with a hearty dose of violence) disconcerting. The show may even be perceived as a manifestation of the decadence and lack of morals of American society. But this is television in the new millenium, folks. Approach it like you would a shot of good tequila, with open-minded anticipation and more than a grain of salt.

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