Desperate Housewives

Common Sense Media says

Desperately addictive, but majorly mature -- not for kids.




EmmyGolden Globe

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The show plays up many of the typical soap opera characteristics -- betrayal, dark secrets, revenge, manipulation -- but it does so with humor, bringing a light touch to what otherwise would be pure melodrama. Consequently, while no one viewing this show is going to take away positive lessons in behavior or relationship management, they also won't be weighed down with heavy drama. And, in the end, the show does center on strong friendships and family ties.

Positive role models

Although the ladies clearly care about each other and their families, the way they behave -- manipulating each other, trading on their sex appeal, deceiving people they love -- doesn't exactly make them candiates for role model of the year. But they do have strong friendships and family relationships ... all of which are frequently tested but almost always stand up to even the hardest challenges.


The show's narrator is a woman who killed herself in the series' very first episode. Other storylines have included murder, assault, fatal accidents, crashes, fights, gun threats/shots, arson, and more, but there's rarely blood.


Lots of skimpy outfits and making out/foreplay; several scenes in which lovemaking is implied (but no sensitive body parts shown). One of the housewives was involved in an affair with a teenager; others have also strayed or been tempted to. One main character cleaned house wearing lingerie while being broadcast on the Web. Some teen sex (and consequent pregnancy).


Mostly words like "damn" and "hell", with the occasional "ass" or "bitch."


Regular but not obvious product placements from Buick, KFC, Halston, etc.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The ladies frequently get together for wine and/or margaritas; most of them have gotten tipsy (or more) a few times over the course of the show's run, and Bree has struggled with being an alcoholic. Also some teen drinking and drug use. One character was addicted to her kids' medication for awhile.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this tongue-in-cheek soap opera's focus on adult characters and situations makes it inappropriate for young kids and teens. Characters (adults and teens alike) have had affairs, covered up crimes, been addicted to drugs and alcohol, lied, and manipulated other characters in just about every imaginable way. There are plenty of sexy scenes (though no actual nudity) and banter, as well as over-the-top storylines involving violence and betrayal. Although older teens and adults will understand that many of the storylines are presented in a humorous way, younger children may not be able to differentiate between parody and drama -- yet another reason to make this one adults-only.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

The highly addictive, Emmy-winning DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES centers on the women of Wisteria Lane and their struggles to cope with suburban life. Narrated by the main characters' friend Mary Alice (Brenda Strong) -- who killed herself in the show's first episode -- the story follows the many twists and turns in the lives of Susan (Teri Hatcher), Bree (Marcia Cross), Lynette (Felicity Huffman), and Gaby (Eva Longoria). Amid the standard soap opera plot elements (affairs, addictions, cover-ups), each season features a central mystery that ends up impacting most of the characters and their families.

Is it any good?


The show's stars give great comedic performances, and there are plenty of outrageous moments (klutzy Susan getting covered in cremated ashes, for example). Something positive can also be gleaned from the women's friendships with one another and from the show's examination -- however extreme -- of the complicated lives that women lead.

But it should be stressed that this is adult fare. In the first season alone, viewers were treated to Gabrielle's sexual relationship with a minor, Lynette's dependence on Ritalin, Bree's husband's S&M fetish, a naked nanny, a suicide, a hit-and-run with no consequences, and a grizzly strangulation. And things have only gotten more complicated -- and eyebrow-raising -- since.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the main characters. Are they positive or negative role models? How are they stereotypical -- and how do they defy those stereotypes? How do they get power in their lives? What do they get from each other?

  • The teen characters on the show -- who have been shown drinking, doing drugs, having sex with adults, lying to parents, and more -- also warrant some discussion. Is their behavior realistic? How should their parents respond when they catch them in the act?

  • What kinds of consequences would the behavior on the show have in real life?

TV details

Cast:Eva Longoria, Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross, Teri Hatcher
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:DVD, Streaming
Awards:Emmy, Golden Globe

This review of Desperate Housewives was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 11 years old April 6, 2010

Great for tweens and teens!

I'm 11 and desperate housewives is my fave programme! It's nice to try and figure out who you'r most alike and it shows what goes on behind closed doors! There is alot of violence in some episodes and barely any in others. Language isn't too bad but it is freequent. Messages are positive (especially in forgiveness). Great for tweens, teens and adults! (well, obviously adults!)
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Great messages
Teen, 14 years old Written bydr duck January 11, 2011

This ONLY happens on Desprate Housewives.

While it is mature, it isn't too bad for smart teens.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 14 years old Written byslasher23 September 5, 2010
some violent content.strong language.some drug use.graphic sexual content and some nudity.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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