Desperate Housewives: Bree’s Faith Life

In a recent post, I said the following:

“I’ve often complained about the entertainment industry’s anti-religious slant. So many times, it depicts religious characters as kooks. I think of Bree on Desperate Housewives. She is probably the only character on that show who believes in God and holds to biblical principles, yet the program presents her as a social snob. “

Well, unbeknownst to me at the time, an episode I had taped a few weeks before actually related to Bree’s faith.

Lynette, another desperate housewife, had a lot of questions. She had just survived cancer. A tornado had recently hit Wysteria Lane. Some lived, and some died. And Lynette wondered why.

She always saw her neighbors going to church. Gabrielle attends mass. I thought that Eedie was Catholic as well, since she always goes to confession, yet she was heading off to church with her Bible, so I may have been wrong on that. (Just kidding, mom!)

But Bree always struck Lynette as the most religious, and so she wanted to go to church with her. And, on some level, her impression was right. Of all the desperate housewives, my worldview is probably most similar to Bree’s. She didn’t like her son’s homosexuality, or her daughter engaging in pre-marital sex. She herself tried to save sex for marriage, sometimes successfully, and sometimes (if my memory serves me correctly) not. And she is a Republican. She met her first husband at a College Republican meeting, and, on their first date, they talked late into the night about the evils of big government. And so she’s not only a Republican: she is a conservative Republican, the type who favors limited government (yes, there are other kinds!).

But she’s also somewhat of a perfectionist, not to mention a social snob. She always cares about what the neighbors think. Social advancement is her drive in life, and she’ll go to almost any length to get it. She’s also a recovering alcoholic. On one episode, Lynette lined up all of the wine bottles that Bree had consumed in the past week, right in front of Bree’s house (where the neighbors could see them). Lynette left Bree a note: “Do you still think you don’t have a problem?” As I watched that episode, I looked at all of the beer cans and bottles sitting beside my trash bucket. “Maybe I have a problem too,” I thought. But Desperate Housewives’ depiction of recovery wasn’t entirely accurate, for Bree had a male sponsor in AA. Ordinarily, women have women sponsors.

And so I have a soft spot in my heart for Bree, even though there are things about her that I cannot stand.

But, anyway, Lynette goes to church with Bree and Orson (Bree’s husband). Bree is trying to suck up to the pastor because she wants to be the chairman of some committee. And so she’s not too happy when Lynette asks the pastor questions about the problem of evil–right during the service. Later, Bree convinces Lynette to go to another church. And, when Lynette does that, Bree’s pastor says that he misses Lynette and her questions. And so, predictably, Bree tries to convince Lynette to come back to her church.

There was one touching scene: When Bree came over to talk Lynette into attending another church, Lynette was reading a Bible that she had just purchased. It had all of these bookmarks, and she said she had tons of questions. That warmed my heart! Here’s someone desperately looking for answers, someone who is hungry for God.

Would she find answers in Bree’s church? I don’t know. The pastor was giving her the typical apologetic spiel: evil exists because of human free will. That prompted Lynette to ask about natural evil, which is not directly caused by human choices, and she specifically mentioned the tornado that had recently hit Wysteria Lane. She was eager to learn, but she wasn’t about to accept just any answer. So who knows? Maybe Bree’s church group could offer her some good food for thought, as she, the pastor, and others wrestled over these very real issues. (I know, I’m talking like they’re real people. This happens every now and then, so don’t be alarmed!)

Lynette was not the only one who gained faith on that episode, for Bree did too. At the end of the show, both she and Lynette had a grand old time discussing the Bible. Before, Bree’s faith life was something she took for granted: she had certain assumptions about God and morality, but she had never really thought about them in depth. And church for her was kind of like a social club: she tried to be in the “in” crowd whenever she attended.

But, often, questions can be a sign of a genuine faith life, for can we truly say that we’re involved in something if we do not reflect on it?

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
This entry was posted in Alcoholism, Desperate Housewives, Politics, Religion, Television. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Desperate Housewives: Bree’s Faith Life

  1. TBrookins says:

    You like Biblical Studies and Desperate Housewives. What are the chances I’d be saying, “Me too”? Ha! My excuse is that I’m married…what’s yours?


  2. James Pate says:

    Hey TBrookins! There are many episodes I’ve not seen, but I started watching it while flipping through the channels. I saw that the Desperate Housewives pilot was on, and the description intrigued me: “After her suicide, Mary Alice Young talks about her friends from the grave.” And I read wikipedia’s summary, which said that Mary Alice after death became aware of her friends flaws, yet she sympathized with them. I had always heard that Desperate Housewives was smut. I didn’t know that there was a serious human element to it. And so I started watching it. I don’t watch it religiously, like every time it comes on Lifetime. But I try to catch it every Sunday night.


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