Desperate Housewives

TV review by
Kate Pavao, Common Sense Media
Desperate Housewives TV Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Desperately addictive, but majorly mature -- not for kids.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 21 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 45 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

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 & Representations

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.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMatt B. August 11, 2016

Not for kids

This is a show about women and affairs, cheating on husbands, etc. This deserves TV-14 and TV-MA. I don't even watch this show. I think its a bad show.
Adult Written byJustBritten October 3, 2011

Desperate Housewives is Fantastic!

I have been watching Desperate Housewives since the very first episode and I can tell you, it's more appropriate that half of the Television programs out... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byLeonvol April 15, 2021


This show is great. It’s a typical show fore women, but boys can also see it. But I’m not sure that boys want to see this show. But try to see it. When I heard... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bylvelez16 April 24, 2020
Desperate housewives is a show that gives a mystery every season, whether a new neighbor in their suburban town to a secret that one of the main characters has... Continue reading

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?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love TV families

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