Several Kinds of Brilliant

We finished watching (via DVD rentals from Netflix) the first season of Desperate Housewives last night, and I have to say, it’s several kinds of brilliant. It’s far, far from the prototypical TV sitcom (which I read a while back described as unpleasant people saying sarcastic things to each other — as in, e.g., the Emmy winner, Everybody Loves Raymond), and as much drama as comedy. In particular, it’s an almost David Lynchian expose behind an apparently perfect upper-class suburban street, involving the mystery behind a suicide that occurs in the first moments of the first episode, and which is not fully explained until the last episode of the season, in such a way that clearly benefits from the writers having planned the story arc in advance… as opposed to making it up as they went along, stretching it out as the ratings permitted. (Which isn’t to say they haven’t planted the seeds of some intriguing developments; I’m especially interested to see what happens to the Evil Pharmacist.) The writing is sharp, the plot surprises frequent but not arbitrary, the acting first-rate. The closing montages of most episodes, narrated by the suicidee of the first episode, in a manner both ironic and compassionate, are at turns philosophical and heart-wrenching. TV was never like this when I was growing up.

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