A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What 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.
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.
Talk to your kids 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?
For kids who love TV families
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.