I watched the new Desperate Housewives last night, and I finished up Season 1 today. Here are some thoughts:
1. I found the episode last night to be very moving. As viewers know, Carlos is starting to regain his sight, as he’s been blind for quite some time. Unbenownst to him, his wife, Gabby, has had to sell off their valuable items to maintain a basic lifestyle (e.g., fix the roof, eat, etc.). Carlos really values his baseball that was autographed by Lou Gehrig, since that was passed down to him by his father, who received it from his father. When Carlos learns that Gabby has sold it, he demands that she get it back.
As Gabby is dancing on a table to get the baseball back from the person she sold it to (since she learned that she couldn’t track down the real Lou Gehrig), Carlos notices some strange things around the house. Gabby’s closet–which used to be full of elaborate, beautiful, expensive clothes–now only has a few plain shirts and pants. Her jewelry chest, which once had all types of gold and diamonds and silver and rubies, is now virtually empty.
Keep in mind that, in the past, Gabby has been a shallow, vain, materialistic, rather selfish woman. As a former model, she’s obsessed with the way she looks. She’d go into debt to keep up her lavish lifestyle! But she’s changed over the past few years. She’s stuck with Carlos, even though he’s blind and doesn’t bring in the cash he once did. And she’s sacrificed the things that she loves to support her husband and kids. When Carlos notices this, he decides to sell the baseball, and he resolves to spend the rest of his life repaying his wife for the sacrifices she made.
I guess the scene in which Carlos was looking around the house really hit home for me because I’ve been watching Season 1, in which Gabby has loads of nice things and is bent on keeping them. Now, her house looks empty. And she’s learned to do what many in families have had to do: sacrifice their own happiness for someone else, which often brings rewards of its own.
2. Last week’s episode was moving too. Carlos is told that he’ll regain his sight, and Gabby is afraid that Carlos won’t love her once he sees her, since she’s not exactly the glamor girl that she was a few years ago. As she shares her concern with Carlos in bed, Carlos says, “Do you know when I decided I wanted to marry you?” “When you saw me walking down the runway,” she responded. “No, that’s when I decided I wanted to sleep with you,” Carlos replied. Carlos then reminded her of their first date, when they were eating ribs. Gabby got really dirty, as her arms were covered with barbecue sauce. When Carlos remarked that she should look in the mirror, Gabby looked at her arms and laughed out loud. “When I heard that laugh, I decided that was something I wanted to hear for the rest of my life,” Carlos said.
I liked that because I often assumed that Gabby was Carlos’ trophy-wife, when she was actually more than that. He valued her, not just her appearance. And, even though they’ve separated a few times and found other lovers (Gabby was even married to the mayor for a time), they always tend to find their way back to each other.
3. I watched some of the special features of Season 1, one of which was Marc Cherry’s acceptance speech at the Emmy’s. Behind him were the main characters of the show–Lynette, Brea, Susan, Gabby, Mike, etc. Mike said that, a few years before, he was a poor comedy writer struggling to find work. But he decided to write about his mom’s experiences. His mom was an ideal housewife, who always had on a happy facade. But, when little Marc was watching a news story about a mom who went berserk on her family, he learned that his own mom had a lot of unhappiness. He then concluded that many housewives had a sense of desperation.
The families on the show mirror some aspect of his own upbringing. Lynette trying to control her unruly kids resembles his own mom’s interaction with him when he was little. Brea the perfect homemaker with sassy teenagers is a scenario that fits his adolescent years.
I liked the way that Marc Cherry thanked his mom for giving him the idea of Desperate Housewives. The reason is that he wasn’t patting himself on the back for being brilliant, for the whole idea for the show came from another person’s experiences. In a sense, the show is outside of and beyond himself.
That reminds me a lot of the Waltons: John-Boy doesn’t pat himself on the back for being a good writer, since his ideas come from his own family. They’re the ones he’s writing about. In a sense, his success is their success as well, as people are entertained by their colorful personalities, wisdom, and character. So it’s success without the ego, as one values something (or someone) beyond himself. That’s something I’d like to have!
4. I did a search on “Brenda Strong,” who plays Mary Alice Young on Desperate Housewives. The wikipedia article said that she was on 7th Heaven. I expected to find she was on one episode, but I discovered that she was on several. I couldn’t remember what ones she was on, until I read the description of one of the shows, in which Annie was trying to teach at Ruthie’s private academy for the gifted. That’s when I remembered. Brenda Strong was Ruthie’s principal! Even on that, she had a calm, friendly, pleasant demeanor.
Did I recognize Ruthie’s principal as Mary Alice when I watched 7th Heaven? After all, I started watching Desperate Housewives before I watched 7th Heaven. The answer is “no.” I hadn’t seen too many episodes of Desperate Housewives in which Mary Alice was actually on. She was usually the omniscient narrator, so I heard her voice, but I didn’t see her that often. But it’s cool that I can now connect her with her 7th Heaven character!