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The men of Wisteria Lane: They were desperate housewives for a reason

By February 20, 2021No Comments

Some of us took up running, others took up baking. Aoife Geary shares the spoils of her lockdown hobby; rewatching Desperate Housewives…


Over lockdown, I’ve watched people throw themselves into new hobbies; baking, running, reading and even learning new languages. When the third lockdown was announced, I decided I had watched in reluctant admiration for too long; it was time to get off the sidelines and join this pursuit of achievement. It was time to devote my energy to something meaningful.

So I watched all eight seasons of Desperate Housewives. Front and back.

Revisiting anywhere after fifteen years can be a little disorienting and heading back to Wisteria Lane was no exception. On the one hand, there are elements of the show that have aged well; the strong female cast, the enduring friendships, and the development of characters who were capable of truly complex emotions. Bree may have been obsessed with keeping up appearances but she was also wildly passionate. Despite her bawdiness, Edi could be tender and vulnerable. Lynette was highly intelligent but also foolish enough to get caught up in a college bribery scandal. The series is highly dramatic but there’s a lot in the lead characters that we can still relate to.

On the other hand, there are elements of the show that have aged woefully. The complete lack of diversity hits like an apple to the head. As does the realisation that Gabrielle’s affair with her young gardener isn’t a symptom of a poor marriage but a disturbing crime.

After the second viewing my opinions of the characters changed. I found this to be particularly true of the male characters who have less redeeming qualities than their female counterparts. I can now understand why these housewives were so desperate and I feel compelled to share my findings.

Here is a breakdown of the main men of Desperate Housewives: (Spoilers ahead)

Tom Scavo

When I initially watched Desperate Housewives 15 years ago I thought that Tom was the ideal man. He was reliable, sweet and had a penchant for making pizza. On the second watch it becomes clear he’s a wet blanket of a man. Threatened by his wife Lynette’s success, moany to the point of disease, Tom is a menace to the lane. He whines about Lynette making all the decisions but in reality his career choices are what dictate the family dynamic – from deciding to be a stay-at-home parent, to opening a restaurant, to returning to college. He is the very essence of a man baby.

Rex Van de Kamp

Unfaithful, ungrateful and with poorly constructed ventricles, Rex is a less than ideal spouse. He’s married to the wonderful Bree but he’s bored and frustrated by her straight laced ways. While Bree’s need for perfection must have been tiresome, he shows no respect for his wife and no regard for her feelings. As a doctor, he should have more patience.

Orson Hodge

Bree’s second husband seemed to be a more fitting partner. A man of impeccable taste, Orson admires her traditional family values, appreciates her hard work and shares many of her interests and hobbies.

That’s why it was so unfortunate that one of Orson’s hobbies (killing acquaintances in car-related incidents) marked the demise of the relationship. He was so committed to their marriage that he agreed to turn himself into the police to win Bree back but they were never quite the same.

Victor Lang

Victor and Gabi have a short but intense relationship. While the attraction is clear, Victor is an ambitious politician and it becomes apparent that he wants to leverage his wife’s ethnicity to win the minority vote. Of all the storylines, this one actually seemed pretty rooted in reality. His drive to succeed in his career drives a wedge between him and Gaby and she starts to miss her ex, Carlos. It all comes to a head when Victor is knocked overboard on his luxury yacht, washes up on shore, confronts Carlos during a tornado and gets impaled on a fence. As I said, very realistic.

Karl Mayer

Karl slept with his secretary, walked out on his wife and daughter, and bought a strip club. He is admittedly a dirtbag. However, his suavity is unrivalled on the lane. When he disciplines Andrew for mistreating his mother, one has to swoon.

After a string of failed relationships, Karl thinks he’s finally met his soulmate in Bree Van de Kamp but just as they’re about to go public with their romance it all falls apart. And by it I mean the plane that crashes onto the lane during a Christmas party and kills him.

Carlos Solis

We catch our first glimpses of Carlos through the eyes of his disgruntled wife, Gabi.

Obsessed with status and money, Carlos treats his wife as a commodity more than a partner.

He thinks that lavish gifts can make up for neglecting his wife.

In season one it’s clear that Carlos has really lost sight of what matters. In season four he loses his actual sight. An important lesson on the potential repercussions of mistreating your wife. Even if that wife was having an affair with their underage gardener.

Mike Delfino

When I first watched Desperate Housewives I fell in love with Mike. I liked his down-to-earth manner, his gorgeous dog and his frequent toplessness. Unfortunately, this time around I realised that the first time he meets Susan, (his melt of a beloved), he spits mac and cheese into a napkin she’s holding. At a funeral. But no one’s perfect.

That said, his good qualities are undeniable. He’s an excellent father, for example, and a skilled tradesman. Mike is a recovering drug addict, convicted felon and inappropriate spitter but he’s still the most eligible man on the lane.


Main image from @desperatehousewivespics