Wednesday, May 04, 2005

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.


At 11:17 AM, May 04, 2005, Blogger goesh said...

Now that NYPD Blue is over with for good, I have become a Shield fan. Glen Close is in it and does a good job with the intensity needed for her role. Ohhh! that woman still moves me!

At 12:46 PM, May 04, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't you think Bree shows characteristics of someone who's prone to OCD symptoms? I remember one episode where she was trying to be a game participant in a slightly risque interlude with her husband in a motel room and couldn't resist the tug of a misplaced burrito (or something) on her attention. I have a close family member who has OCD so I tend to pick up on what I think are symptoms of the disease. Probably because of this, I tend to view Bree as a very complicated and often sympathetic character and not just a rigid, uncompromising control freak.

At 6:02 PM, May 04, 2005, Blogger Linda Fox said...

I, too, watch the show, but that's mostly because my husband LOVES it - for all the wrong reasons.

I do keep up on it, though, since I started a new blog, Not-So Desperate Housewife

At 6:24 PM, May 04, 2005, Blogger loboinok said...

Just discovering blogs I haven't seen before and leaving a comment on the ones I like. Nice place! Wanna trade links?

At 6:27 PM, May 04, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Desperate Housewifes" is every cliche written since the 1970's raging hormonal radicals revived Sanger Sisterhood feminism and burned our bras.

At 8:19 PM, May 04, 2005, Blogger Dean Wilson said...

Just found your blog and didn't have time to read much, but as a liberal turned neocon, you have my attention. I'm more of a "rebelled against his parents by going further right" type and am trying to find my proper place on the right. But hey, I'm 19, so I have some time. Can you believe they let kids like me vote?

At 5:46 AM, May 05, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Desperate Housewives" is eye candy pure and simple and it works ! Now Paula Abdul is gaining notoriety on "American Idol". We must want these television programs to get further and further out, because they keep making them. Talk about jaded !!


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