2000's, Alfre Woodard, Andrea Bowen, Brenda Strong, Cody Kasch, Desperate Housewives, Desperate Housewives Season 2, Doug Savant, Eva Longoria, Felicity Huffman, James Denton, Marcia Cross, Mark Moses, Nicollette Sheridan, Ricardo Antonio Chavira, Richard Burgi, Roger Bart, Teri Hatcher
It was going to be a hard task to match the utter greatness of Season 1 of Desperate Housewives, so it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that Season 2 is something of a lesser season in comparison. That isn’t to say that it is a bad season, far from it in fact as it’s always entertaining to watch the lives of the ladies unravel with drama. But it just doesn’t have the killer punch and mystery of the first offering. Spoilers will follow in this review.
After the Mary Alice(Brenda Strong) mystery was wrapped up, the ladies of Wisteria Lane are attempting to get back to normal again, though this is proving harder than anticipated. Uptight Bree(Marcia Cross) is dealing with the death of her husband Rex, whose heart attack was brought on by Bree’s admirer and pharmacist George(Roger Bart) tampering with his medication. This fact is not known by Bree, who is still trying to keep up appearances but is inside devastated. George begins to infiltrate her life again posing as a shoulder to cry on, but secretly obsessed with her. Bree is also coming to terms with her troublesome son Andrew coming out as gay and his constant attempts to make her life hell. The manipulative George uses Andrew’s often antagonistic behaviour to his advantage as he gets dangerously close to the unsuspecting Bree. Lynette(Felicity Huffman) goes back to work again, while her husband Tom(Doug Savant) becomes a stay at home dad. Although she feels exhilarated being back in a job, she can’t help but feel that the balance between her work life and home life is challenging. She begins to slightly neglect her duties as a mother as she excels in business, but is still very conflicted on what she should do. Susan(Teri Hatcher) is trying to recover after being held hostage by the unstable Zach(Cody Kasch) in the finale after which the teenager runs away, while also dealing with the fact that Mike(James Denton) is actually Zach’s biological father. There is also the matter of her ex husband Karl(Richard Burgi) moving in with the street vamp Edie Britt(Nicollette Sheridan), but still has feelings for her. Rounding out the main drama is the glamorous Gabrielle(Eva Longoria) is pregnant and trying to make it work with Carlos(Ricardo Antonio Chavira) who is incarcerated for eight months. The ups and downs of their union are also tested when Gabrielle suffers a miscarriage just as she is warming to the idea of motherhood. Paul Young(Mark Moses) returns after his near-death encounter with Mike, but is arrested for murder shortly after due to the vendetta of a vengeful neighbour.Then we have the overriding mystery of this season in the form of Betty Applewhite(Alfre Woodard). The religious woman, who has moved onto Wisteria Lane with her son Matthew, keeps herself to herself and is deep down guarding a dark secret. She has her other son Caleb locked up in the basement, as he is meant to have murdered someone but as is always the case with the mysteries of Wisteria Lane, nothing is as it seems and darkness lurks beneath the lovely surface.
Like I previously mentioned, this isn’t a bad season but it just pales in comparison with the debut one. It is the mystery this time that doesn’t become that enthralling or enigmatic enough. Some of the parts of Betty’s story are very mysterious, but they just don’t have the pull that the Mary Alice discoveries had. If the mystery of Betty and her son’s had been given more thought, it might have made this a season on par with the first. There are also times when the neat balance that Desperate Housewives has of comedy and drama becomes a little thin and one is given precedence over the other. There is a lack of consistency in the beginning of the season with the quality changing, but once it gets into the groove, Desperate Housewives Season 2 churns out some great episodes. Now, despite these negative aspects, there’s still a lot to enjoy in this sophomore season. When the humour, sly and dark undercutting of suburbia are allowed to reach their heights without leaving the other out, it is very successful and delightfully observed with help from witty screenplays and genuine emotional drama involving the core ladies. The continuing narration from Mary Alice is always a plus, as she watches over her friends and the daily struggles they go through with a warmth and knowing. I liked how Bree was made the centre of many stories as I’ve found her character interesting and full of so many layers. The theme of conflict is very apparent throughout the season, whether it be physical, emotional or mental and its a very nifty plot point that leads to some truly great episodes. Once again, a tonally diverse score helps add even more playful antics to the already more than eventful proceedings.
Despite some of the flaws of the season, the reliable cast are at least on hand to deliver great work. Marcia Cross excels as Bree, the centerpiece of this season. The amount of emotion she projects while also subtlety exuding the demeanor of a perfect house keeper is astonishing. She goes through so much this season: Andrew constantly trying to make her feel inferior, Rex’s death and most importantly her relationship with the manipulative George. The relationship with George and watching her realise his possessive nature and how he killed Rex is genuinely chilling and heart wrenching to watch. As well as the scene when he overdoses and tries to blackmail Bree into saving him, but she calmly lets him die for all the pain he has caused her and her unshakable facade crumbles. I think it’s safe to say that this season belongs to Marcia Cross. Felicity Huffman is excellent at portraying Lynette’s conflicting interests of being in business and raising her kids and her need for a compromise. Huffman gives such comic timing and emotional depth to Lynette that I can’t imagine anyone playing the character because of it. Teri Hatcher is still an absolute joy to view as hapless Susan, now caught between Mike and the last person she thought she’d have feelings for, her ex husband Karl. Hatcher sells the comic and romantic mishaps of Susan with charm and verve, while also letting us relate to her because of the emotions she displays. I liked how Eva Longoria brought out the softer side of Gabrielle this season as she deals with losing her child and her shaky marriage to Carlos. Sure she is still feisty, opinionated and selfish, but she also has a heart there as she begins to want a child again after being dead set against it and the luminous Longoria excellently portrays that. Nicollette Sheridan continues to sizzle as the outrageously trashy Edie, who manages to at least get into the central circle of friends for once after always being the outsider bitch.
Her mystery story line may not be up to much, but Alfre Woodard turns in stellar work as the secretive Betty. Projecting a welcoming image to everyone, we glimpse how underneath she is driven, extremely protective and fast-thinking in situations. She may make some questionable decisions, but Woodard sells Betty’s complex personality very well. James Denton brings his presence to the part of Mike, who is attempting to adjust to life knowing who his son is and his own past. Richard Burgi is very amusing as Susan’s ex Karl, who has feelings for her even though they’re separated. Ricardo Antonio Chavira provides very funny work as Carlos, who has found God while in prison and is attempting to mend his angered ways. This is very much to the chagrin of Gabrielle who prefers her husband the way he was. Special mention must go to Roger Bart this season, who imbues the obsessed George Williams with a disquieting and controlling demeanor as he worms his way into Bree’s life. His death and attempts to blackmail Bree are riveting scenes, even though he has underestimated Bree’s vengeance for killing her husband and he watches as she silently observes him pass away knowing all the pain he has brought her. It would have been good if he’d stuck around a little longer, but when he is on the show he is amazing. I thought it was good that they expanded on Tom’s role and gave Doug Savant more to do. The character goes back to work with Lynette, but finds his masculinity challenged as he can’t accept that his wife is also his boss. Andrea Bowen is likable and extremely mature as Susan’s daughter, who senses that her parents still have a spark of love between them. Like with the last season, Mark Moses in on great form as the chilling Paul Young, while Cody Kasch fleshes out Zach to reveal why he has become so disturbed and how devious he can really be. And not forgetting the sagacious voice of Brenda Strong as the deceased Mary Alice, continuing to watch from beyond the grave.
- Next – A
- You Could Drive a Person Crazy – B-
- You’ll Never Get Away from Me – C
- My Heart Belongs to Daddy – D
- They Asked Me Why I Believe in You – B
- I Wish I Could Forget You – C+
- Color and Light – C
- The Sun Won’t Set – B
- That’s Good, That’s Bad – A
- Coming Home – C
- One More Kiss – A
- We’re Gonna Be All Right – D
- There’s Something About a War – B+
- Silly People – B+
- Thank You So Much – C
- There Is No Other Way – C
- Could I Leave You? – B
- Everybody Says Don’t – C-
- Don’t Look at Me – A
- It Wasn’t Meant to Happen – B+
- I Know Things Now – A+
- No One Is Alone – A
- Remember Part 1 – A
- Remember Part 2 – A+
While not as riveting or laced with mystery that could have been expanded, Desperate Housewives Season 2 is worthwhile watching due to the cast and writing.