Like Norm Geras, I'm not a desperate housewife
I thought perhaps I might get your attention with that title.
Now that Norm has come out of the closet as a "Desperate Housewives" fan (or at least, a viewer), I feel it's only right to show solidarity (Solidarity Forever, Norm!) with him by confessing that I, too, sometimes watch (and enjoy) the show. Shh, don't tell. I guess I've already ruined my reputation, anyway, by owning up to watching "American Idol." But some would consider "Desperate Housewives" an even lower form of degradation (desperation?).
The reason I'm posting on the topic (other than the relief of being able to change the subject from the Vietnam War for a moment) is that Norm asks for theories on the most popular desperate housewife. Since I'm never one to shrink from conjuring up a theory, I offer the following: I, like Norm, originally liked Susan best, but as time goes on I have found myself far more interested in Bree. Unlike Norm, I haven't totally turned on Susan or found her annoying (well, maybe just a tad), but she does get a bit wearing. I think it's because she overplays the endearing vulnerable cuteness clutzy thing. Just as in life, this can get somewhat tiresome. But I still like Susan; she's the sort of person who would make an excellent friend.
Bree is not, and that's what makes her appealing as a character--her edge. In Bree's case it's rather more than an edge; she's a bit knifelike. You never quite know what you are going to get with Bree, which is what makes her interesting. She's not a total villainess, either--that would be boring, too. She's given more than a spark of humanity and vulnerability, and so we find that, almost against our will, every now and then she makes us care about her. The best characters, both in literature and popular entertainment, have that dual quality, and Bree has it, in spades (not to mention her wonderful sense of color, and her somewhat fierce intelligence).
Those who are old enough to remember the original BBC Forsyte Saga series, the black-and-white one, might agree when I say that it was the relatively abominable Soames Forsyte, given tremendous complexity of feeling by the stupendous actor Eric Porter, who completely and utterly stole the show. Kenneth More as young Jolyon put me to sleep, I'm afraid, although I assume I was supposed to like him.
Oh, and one more thing--I seem to remember that the writers of "Desperate Housewives" have taken pains to inform us that the tightly controlled Bree is--gasp!--a Republican!! I guess they thought it was the perfect way to express the extremity of her rigidity.