Desperate Housewives took television by storm, quickly becoming a cultural phenomenon when it premiered back in 2004. Focusing on the lives of the titular suburban women, the dramedy ran on ABC for eight seasons and launched (or relaunched) the careers of Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross, and Eva Longoria. Aside from the balancing of comedic and more dramatic elements, the series had a season-long Twin Peaksesque mystery to unravel as well.
The women of Desperate Housewives may not have been perfect, but they were undeniably relatable. Regardless of their struggles over the years, these Wisteria Lane residents will always be fondly remembered by fans. Here's how the seasons stack up.
Although this season gets points for bringing Vanessa Williams’ delightful Renee Perry to the Lane, it’s still the weakest of the bunch. The return of Paul Young, with his creepy wife in tow, led to one of the show’s blandest mysteries and the appearance of Gabby’s stepfather seemed to come out of nowhere. Also, did anyone really need more drama between Paul and Felicia?
There was also the baby swap plot, leading to Gabby’s strange doll obsession, and Bree’s relationship with Keith - which few viewers were really invested in - and Chuck. Plus, Tom and Lynette separated and though that wound up being one of Season 8’s most engaging stories, it’s still unforgivable.
A definite improvement on the previous year, Season 8 still couldn’t match the quality of the show’s earlier seasons. Susan’s guilt over Alejandro’s murder made her quite unlikeable. Come on, the guy was a child molester and she wasn’t even the one who killed him! However, Bree’s murder trial was one of the season’s most affecting plotlines and gave one final shining moment to the terminally ill Karen McCluskey.
Ben was a fine addition to the show, despite the fact that he and Renee had zero onscreen chemistry, but Carlos’s descent into alcoholism was a strange choice. Also, this season loses major points for the pointless decision to kill off Mike Delfino so close to the show’s end. Susan may not have gotten her happily ever after (though she did become a grandmother) but at least Tom and Lynette found their way back to one another. Their journey there was one of the most compelling stories of the season.
Season 2 gets a bad rap, but really it just had the unfortunate circumstance of following one of the best seasons on television. Betty Applewhite was an interesting character - and Alfre Woodard is an amazing actress - but the mystery revolving around her two sons was fairly convoluted.
Despite the issues with Season 2’s central whodunnit, the subplots pretty much made up for whatever that story was lacking. Some particularly great ones were Bree’s horrifying relationship with George, her struggle with alcoholism, and Andrew’s villainous turn. Lynette returned to work and Gabby came to terms with losing her baby, as well as having her husband in jail. Plus, Susan and Edie shared some pretty great moments thanks to the latter's relationship with the former's ex-husband.
Season 5 injected new life into the series by launching with a five-year time jump. Unfortunately, it was also the season that the show lost scene-stealer Nicollette Sheridan as Edie Britt. Despite that, it was a solid season. Again, the central mystery was a bit lacking, but despite how easy it was to guess the Dave Williams twist, the resulting story was undeniably exciting.
Susan and Mike split up, Bree becomes the success we all knew she could be, and Tom deals with a midlife crisis. Katherine and Mike get together, while Gabby adjusts to motherhood and Carlos' blindness. Aside from that, Bree and Orson were having some marital problems - this was the year the writers completely ruined Kyle MacLachlan’s character with a pointless kleptomaniac plot.
Season 6 was arguably the last really good year that Desperate Housewives had. The Bolens moved in, bringing a new and exciting mystery along with them. In fact, Season 6 had two major whodunnits: The Bolens and the Fairview strangler. Both mysteries were compelling, between the Bolens’ secretive pasts and Julie’s attack. Drea de Matteo was perfect as Angie Bolen and who didn’t love seeing John Barrowman as the villainous Patrick Logan?
Katherine had a meltdown after Mike and Susan reunited, but she then wound up with Robin, which was a rather delightful plot twist - though it was sad to say goodbye to Dana Delany. Bree discovered Rex had an illegitimate son, Lynette got pregnant again and Gabby took in her niece.
Despite a shortened episode count thanks to the writers strike, Season 4 is excellent television. It introduced Katherine Mayfair, Bob Hunter, and Lee McDermott, all of whom were great additions to the cast. Plus, Nathan Fillion played Katherine’s husband and Gary Cole portrayed her evil ex! The mystery didn’t make a ton of sense, but this season was so good that it made little difference.
Lynette was forced to fight both cancer and her terrible stepdaughter. Bree pretended to be pregnant when it was really Danielle who was carrying a child - which really is such a Bree thing to do. Gabby and Carlos got back together, despite being involved with Victor and Edie, respectively. Susan and Mike were finally happy and expecting a child. Plus, that tornado episode!
The one that started it all is not only among the best seasons of Desperate Housewives but also one of the best seasons of TV, period. Season 1 started with a literal bang as Mary Alice Young shot herself and from there, the series only subverted expectations both of what nighttime soaps could explore, as well as what layered female TV characters could look like.
There are so many unforgettable moments! Just to name a few; Susan is locked out of her house naked, Gabby mows her lawn in an evening gown, a fully clothed Lynette walks into a pool to discipline her misbehaving kids, and Bree makes the bed while her husband has a heart attack. Aside from that, Mary Alice’s suicide remains the most engaging mystery of the entire series.
For taking these beloved characters in so many unexpected directions and giving fans another fantastic mystery, Season 3 just edges out Season 1. Orson Hodge became the new man in Bree’s life, but the audience knew that he had run over Mike. The answers were unexpected and led to a wonderful role for Dixie Carter as Orson’s devious mother.
Mike awoke from his coma with no memory, allowing him to be easily manipulated by Edie. Meanwhile, Susan took solace in Ian, who understood exactly what she had gone through. The result was a very exciting love…square? Gabby and Carlos got divorced and tried their hands at the single life - thankfully, it didn’t take. Edie’s nephew Austin moved to town, which spelled trouble for Julie, and Tom’s secret daughter was revealed. “Bang,” which saw Laurie Metcalf’s Carolyn Bigsby go on a shooting spree at the grocery store, is considered by many to be the best episode of the entire series.