ABC finally admits what TV world already knew: Desperate Housewives will end this season
LOS ANGELES -- Let’s say you’ve got this aging, yet sorta popular TV hit that needs to shuffle off to cancellation-land by the end of the season.
How do you deliver that news to a roomful of 200 skeptical TV critics?
If you’re ABC entertainment president Paul Lee, you get Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry to pull up a seat next to you and assure writers many times over that the decision to put down the show at the end of this season was a mutual one. Honest.
“The only thing harder than creating a hit show, is knowing when to end it,” Cherry said at the TV Critics Association’s summer press tour Sunday, noting that one of his first meetings with the then-newly-hired Lee involved discussing when ABC’s sprawling, female-centered nighttime soap might take its last trip down Wisteria Lane.
“I have been working in television for 23 years, I’m also very aware of people over staying their welcome, shows that kind of go on too long and people just forget about them,” Cherry added. “I wanted to go out in the classiest way possible.”
Fans who have seen recent storylines – like the dead, sexually abusive stepfather Eva Longoria’s Gabrielle Solis in hiding in truck – might disagree. But there is little doubt that the affable Cherry has struggled to keep Housewives fresh while developing his own ideas for future series.
While Cherry faces a contentious $20-million lawsuit from former co-star Nicolette Sheridan, he’s also working to revamp Hallalujah, a dramedy starring ex-Law & Order star Jesse L. Martin that the network passed on for this season. Which means no spin-off for Housewives, though the producer admitted loving series star Longoria so much he told her he wanted to “put you in a van and have you solve mysteries.”
After sharing tears with Longoria and the other cast members he informed by phone, Cherry tried focusing on the positives of a final season Lee said would unfold like a “victory lap.”
“I always say the difference between people who had a hit when they were very young and people catch that second wave is that the second wave people are smart enough to know how lucky they are,” said the producer, who once worked on The Golden Girls. “Sometimes shows with primarily younger performers, those folks don’t know that lightning doesn’t strike very often, and certainly with Marcia (Cross, former Melrose Place) and Teri (Hatcher, ex-Lois and Clark), who have been on hit shows before, they knew that lightning had struck twice here.”
Judging by an ABC press release, the final season's storylines are expected to focus on the impact of the murder, as "the cover up by Susan, Gaby, Bree and Lynette has far reaching effects. Feelings of guilt begin to overcome everyone in different ways. Susan starts to withdraw from her friends and family, and Gaby works to reach out to Carlos while his guilt weighs heavily upon him. As Lynette and Tom are grappling with their disintegrating marriage and impending separation, Lynette is having trouble making the right choices ever since she participated in the cover-up. And Bree must be especially careful around her new love, Detective Chuck Vance. Meanwhile a new sexy neighbor moves to town, Ben Faulkner, and he’s Renee's first order of business."
Heady stuff for a show always known for a healthy dose of humor along with its pathos. But Cherry says the final season will also hearken back to the original mystery which sparked the first season, the unexpected suicide of the Housewives' friend, Mary Alice Young.
And don't expect any more episodes than usual: "On Desperate Housewives, I was kind of alone and unemployed and broke, and I had plenty of time to write, and it still took me a year (to write the pilot episode)," he said. "But it’s such a complex show to write because you have four women, have soap opera storylines that must intersect plus there’s a mystery that they all have to be connected to. I swear my next show is just going to be two guys in a prison cell, because I need something way easier than Desperate Housewives."