''Desperate Housewives'' is an American television comedy-drama-mystery series created by Marc Cherry and produced by ABC Studios and Cherry Productions. It aired Sundays at 9 P.M. Eastern/8 P.M. Central, on ABC from October 3, 2004, until May 13, 2012. Executive producer Cherry served as showrunner. Other executive producers since the fourth season included Bob Daily, George W. Perkins, John Pardee, Joey Murphy, David Grossman, and Larry Shaw.
The main setting of the show was Wisteria Lane, a street in the fictional American town of 'Fairview' in the fictional 'Eagle State'. The show followed the lives of a group of women as seen through the eyes of a dead neighbor who committed suicide in the very first episode. The storyline covers thirteen years of the women's lives over eight seasons, set between the years 2004–2008, and later 2013–2017 (the story arc included a 5-year passage of time, as well as flashbacks ranging from the 1980s to the 2020s). They worked through domestic struggles and family life, while facing the secrets, crimes and mysteries hidden behind the doors of their — at the surface — beautiful and seemingly perfect suburban neighborhood.
The show featured an ensemble cast, headed by Teri Hatcher as Susan Mayer, Felicity Huffman as Lynette Scavo, Marcia Cross as Bree Van de Kamp, and Eva Longoria as Gabrielle Solis. Brenda Strong narrated the show as the deceased Mary Alice Young, appearing sporadically in flashbacks or dream sequences.
The series was well received by viewers and critics alike. The show is a multiple Primetime Emmy, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award winner. From the 2004–05 through the 2008–09 television seasons, its first five seasons were rated amongst the top ten most watched shows.〔http://www.spottedratings.com/2010/07/war-of-18-49-desperate-housewives.html〕 In 2007, it was reported to be the most popular show in its demographic worldwide, with an audience of approximately 120 million and was also reported that the series is the third most watched TV show in a study of ratings in 20 countries. In 2012, it remained as the most-watched comedy series internationally based on data from Eurodata TV Worldwide, which measured ratings across five continents; it has held this position since 2006.〔(Monte-Carlo TV Festival (2006) )〕 Moreover, it was the third-highest revenue earning show for 2010, with US$2.74 million per half hour. The show placed #56 on ''Entertainment Weekly'' "New TV Classics" list.
''Desperate Housewives'' was officially renewed by ABC on May 17, 2011 for an eighth season. The season premiere episode was broadcast on Sunday, September 25. The eighth season was the show's final season. The series concluded on May 13, 2012. By the end of the series, it had surpassed ''Charmed'' as the longest running hour-long television series featuring all female leads by two episodes. ''Housewives'' was also the most watched series finale of 2012.
The idea for the series was conceived as Marc Cherry and his mother were watching a news report on Andrea Yates.〔Bill Carter, ''Desperate Networks''. New York: Doubleday, 2006. p. 161-162〕 Prior to ''Desperate Housewives'', Cherry was best known for producing and writing episodes of Touchstone Television's hit comedy series ''The Golden Girls'' and its successor, ''The Golden Palace''. In addition, he had created or co-created three sitcoms: ''The 5 Mrs. Buchanans'', ''The Crew'' and ''Some of My Best Friends'', none of which lasted longer than a year. Cherry had difficulty in getting any television network interested in his new series; HBO, CBS, NBC, Fox, Showtime, and Lifetime all turned the show down. Finally, two new executives at ABC, Lloyd Braun and Susan Lyne, chose to greenlight it, reportedly after ''The O.C.'' on Fox premiered in 2003 and showed that a soap opera could succeed in prime time. Shortly thereafter, Disney had both Braun and Lyne fired, following their approval of another new drama series: ''Lost''.
The ABC executives were not initially satisfied with the name of the new show, suggesting ''Wisteria Lane'' and ''The Secret Lives of Housewives'' instead.〔"Desperate Housewives – The Complete First Season" DVD〕〔Bill Carter, ''Desperate Networks''. New York: Doubleday, 2006. p. 203〕 However, on October 23, 2003, ''Desperate Housewives'' was announced by ABC, presented as a prime time soap opera created by Charles Pratt, Jr. of ''Melrose Place'' fame, and Marc Cherry, who declared the new show to be a mix of ''Knots Landing'' and ''American Beauty'' with a little bit of ''Twin Peaks''. While Cherry continued his work on the show, Pratt was credited as executive producer for the pilot episode only, remaining linked to the show as a consulting producer during the first two seasons.
On May 18, 2004, ABC announced the 2004–2005 lineup, with ''Desperate Housewives'' in the Sunday at 9:00–10:00 p.m. ET slot, which it held all through the run of the show. After only three episodes were broadcast, on October 20, ABC announced that ''Desperate Housewives'', along with ''Lost'', had been picked up for a full season. A couple of weeks later after Housewives premiered the owners of NBC called to see who had passed on the series due to its ratings success.
''Desperate Housewives'' was produced by creator Marc Cherry (Cherry Productions), Austin Bagley and, since 2007, ABC Studios. From 2004 to 2007, ''Desperate Housewives'' was produced in association with Touchstone Television.
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