The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


ABC’s ‘Desperate Housewives’ addicting the nation, SMU

Campus tuning in to new show for ‘dirty laundry’

With a tag line that reads, “Everyone has a little dirty laundry,” it’s no wonder ABC’s new late-night soap opera, “Desperate Housewives,” is ranked No. 1 among new programs in the Nielsen ratings. The mysterious suicide of a friend and steamy sexual encounters with the attractive teenage gardener are two of the factors that keep students returning to the eerily perfect cul-de-sac on Wisteria Lane.

According to one SMU fan, it’s the show’s combination of a convenient time frame and appealing plots that contribute to its success. “Its twisted storylines are so intriguing, it’s like being addicted to a soap, but at a time students can actually watch.”

Sonia Chandiramani, a sophomore business management major and philosophy minor, feels the show’s allure comes from witty line deliveries and deceitful connotation. “The show’s ability to interlace a unique sense of humor and ‘dirty laundry’ make it stick out amongst all of the other fluff broadcast during primetime.”

In its first season alone, “Desperate Housewives” is ranked the second most popular show among women ages 18-49 and 25-54 nationwide, and claimed the coveted top spot in the younger adult women, ages 18-34, category on the Nielsen scale.

Out of the 109.6 million households in America, nearly 20 million tune into ABC to watch the ladies of Wisteria Lane each week.

Sunday nights at 8 p.m., students in dorms all over campus step away from their studies for an hour and gather around the TV to see what’s next with their favorite housewives every. Down the hall, fellow residents can hear loud gasps of surprise and squeals of delight as new plotlines are revealed and burning questions are answered.

But SMU students are not the only ones who’ve been drawn into the show.

In the CNNMoney website article, “ABC’s ‘desperate’ measure pays off,” Shari Anne Brill, programming analyst with the ad-buying firm Carat USA, attributes “Desperate Housewives’” success to the “HBO factor.” “In the absence of HBO’s ‘Sex and the City’ and ‘The Sopranos,’ ABC knew there was an opening for a new, edgier show on Sunday nights … I think ‘Desperate Housewives’ whetted the appetite for ‘Sex and the City’ refugees,” Brill said.

First-year Margo Keeler wasted no time contemplating the show’s storylines or comedic genius. Keeler says she watches the show for one reason and one reason only: “James Denton,” the ruggedly handsome actor, who plays Wisteria Lane’s resident handyman and Teri Hatcher’s love interest, Mike Delfino.

To the shock of ABC, the popularity of “Desperate Housewives” doesn’t stop with female viewers. “Housewives” has also tapped into the obscure group of 18-to-34-year-old men, ranking second most popular show of the year, falling only to the traditional “Monday Night Football.”

Believe it or not, there actually are guys out there who gain a similar entertainment factor from “Housewives.”

“I think there are some hot women on the show,” first-year music major David Rosengaft said jokingly. “Although I will admit that the few times I’ve watched, it was really interesting.”

At a recent apartment gathering of SMU students, for example, the male viewers were much more adamant then their female companions about keeping the group silent during an episode of “Housewives.”

“I couldn’t believe it,” said sophomore Angela Pena, who was in attendance that night. “The guys were actually into the show more then we were, it was kind of weird.”

Creator Marc Cherry is not at all surprised by the amount of male viewers the show receives. “… People in our show are very active, and sometimes they do funny things, and I think guys love serialized stuff as long as there’s some action and there’s some laughs … and also we have some fairly attractive women on the show,” he recently said in an article by Phil Rosenthal for The Chicago Sun-Times.

Buzz about “Desperate Housewives” around the SMU campus has led to its invasion of the ever-popular and addicting student website Groups, “Desperate Housewives” and “In Love With ‘Sex and the City’/‘Desperate Housewives,’” provide a space for nearly 250 devoted “DH” fans to dish about the program.

Of course, as with any popular television program, it is not to be expected that everyone will be pleased with the racy repertoire of “Desperate Housewives.” Some columnists and experts in women’s studies have heavily criticized the show’s characters, which they believe “reinforce ideas of women as scheming, petty, and self-centered.”

In an article published by The Chicago Tribune, the conservative group, American Family Association, claims to have “successfully pressured several advertisers to stop supporting the show’s depiction of housewifery as both unfulfilling and amoral.”

“Our objection to ‘Desperate Housewives’ is that it normalizes on society that it’s OK for women to be unfaithful to their husbands, that open discussion of intimate details between individuals is open for ‘girl talk’ … it also implies it’s not abnormal for a married woman to have sex with a teenager,” stated Randy Sharp, director of special projects for AFA.

In the article, media specialist and communications professor at San Diego State University, Martha Lauzen feels that, “‘Desperate Housewives’ features every bad stereotype that I can think of about women.”

But protests by groups like AFA and Lauzen have little affect on creator Marc Cherry. “I don’t mind being naughty, or a little risqué, but I do not wish to be offensive, I really don’t,” he said in a recent Philadelphia Daily News article in response to the show’s controversial nature.

Cherry, who nevertheless admits to a “twisted sense of humor” and delights in talking about the show’s “nipple problem” also said, “Certain actresses really don’t like to wear bras. And we try to accommodate them as much as humanly possible … So we’ve done a lot of blurring.”

Ironically, Steve Johnson of The Chicago Tribune writes that one of the strongest factors for the show’s success is the publicity brought on by protests from groups like the AFA, who object to the “steamy content” of “Desperate Housewives.”

Pena, said it best, “‘Desperate Housewives’ producers are trying to bring the sex appeal and spunk back into being a housewife. You don’t have to be cooking or cleaning, you can be shopping and living the life you want to live. In a roundabout way, every one of those women is a little bit of us.”

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