Desperate Housewives: Bob D'Amico
Michael Slezak
February 19, 2005 AT 05:00 AM EST

”Desperate Housewives”: Protecting the children

Even with the show’s first gay kiss, tonight’s Desperate Housewives celebrated surprisingly conservative family values. We got to see Bree protecting her daughter’s virginity, Gabrielle standing by her man, Lynette winning her kids more quality time with their dad, and poor Susan breaking up with her true love to protect herself and her daughter. Sure, the women’s actions weren’t always admirable — but what’s a little lying, scheming, and threatening if it helps protect the people within your four suburban walls?

The opening montage of the Van de Kamp residence established the episode’s tone, with photos of family, Jesus, and, yes, Ronald Reagan, on display. Yet even a Mondale supporter would be hard-pressed not to admire Bree’s swift response after finding out her daughter had no plans to run for a second term as president of her school’s abstinence club. ”My daughter is considering giving you her virginity,” an icily efficient Bree (Marcia Cross) told the object of her daughter’s affections, ”and I would consider it a personal favor if you didn’t take it.” It’s amazing the way the brilliant Cross can take a line that should sound like a plea and turn it into the most pleasant and thinly veiled of threats. Was there any possibility that John wouldn’t follow Bree’s ”suggestion” to break Danielle’s heart — brutally? In Bree’s mind, it might take Danielle years to heal the emotional scars of John’s harsh rejection, but pregnancy (and subsequently, motherhood) lasts a heckuva lot longer.

Speaking of which, am I the only one who suspects Gabrielle might have a bun of her own in the oven now that Carlos has tampered with her birth-control pills? She sure seemed to be getting into nesting mode when she suggested to Carlos that they sell their house and move into an apartment to help ease their financial woes. (Then again, as selfish as she usually is, maybe Gabrielle is just angling to move to John’s housing complex — which has seen almost as much action lately as Wisteria Lane.)

Yes it’s true that Gabrielle may never win Wife of the Year, but I sure was glad to see her reject the advances of John’s roommate, Justin, without a moment’s hesitation; Mrs. Solis may cheat on her husband with the underage gardener, but not just any underage gardener.

And, thankfully, Justin’s efforts to blackmail Gabrielle were only a last-ditch effort to help him figure out his sexual orientation (otherwise, his relentless come-ons would’ve been extra amounts of creepy). As it was, the whole scenario allowed the writers to create a new litmus test for male sexuality: You enjoy making out with Eva Longoria, you’re straight; it does nada for you, you’re gay.

Would that all of life’s tough questions had such deliciously easy answers.

Poor Susan (Teri Hatcher), on the other hand, struggled for any kind of answer while telling Mike she didn’t want him anywhere near her heart. Even though Susan had just gotten word that Mike had done jail time for drug trafficking and manslaughter, she still needed the full protection of her gorgeous, calf-length cardigan to keep him at bay emotionally. Playing the once-burned woman fighting hard not to fall in love again, Hatcher gets so much even out of throwaway lines like ”I’m adorable crazy, he’s rampage crazy” that sometimes I almost believe she deserved that Golden Globe she stole from Cross.

The writers, however, provided few award-worthy zingers in this episode, which — while infinitely more entertaining than the average Sunday-night entertainment — lacked classic moments such as Lynette’s standoff with Angry Neighbor Lady or the time when Bree declared jihad on Rex while he was lying in a hospital bed. And while I’m offering helpful hints to the Housewives staff, how about just one week where Susan doesn’t have a pratfall? Her tumble into the yard as the police closed in on Mike was both implausible and unfunny — Susan (not to mention Hatcher) deserves better. It’d also be nice to see the ladies pair up and leave the cul-de-sac. Why not take a cue from Sex and the City and let Susan and Bree go for a manicure? Or Lynette and Gabrielle hit the mall?

But even this week’s non-rewind-worthy episode did set up some splendid opportunities to unmask hidden agendas and expose lies in future episodes. Was that Mike Delfino file for real or just a fabrication by the police investigator who’s in cahoots with Mike’s creepy, mysterious, terminally ill boss? Is Zach planning to use that gun he was telling Julie about? Will the neighborhood find out that Andrew is Justin’s down-low canoodling partner? And, as a result, can we expect Bree to pay a second visit to Casa John and Justin?

I just hope that if Andrew does turn out to be gay, Bree can accept his decision. While it seems like a woman with such meticulous tastes in food, home decor, and gardening would have at least one or two gay pals, you never know; like it or not, Wisteria Lane residents can be a tad hypocritical. Susan herself committed a felony when she burned down Edie’s house and fled the scene. Why does she get to feel morally superior to Mike when he at least did the time for his crime? And Andrew has never been punished for putting Carlos’ mother in the ICU. How come Bree was so eager to call 911 when Mrs. Huber’s jewelry was found in Mike’s drawer?

These are the questions I’ll be mulling during dull Academy Award speeches next Sunday. (Those Oscars are pre-empting Desperate Housewives — argh!) Here are some more to ponder until then: What in the world was that orchid-belt-over-the-cleavage thingie Gabrielle was wearing at Justin’s apartment? Does Danielle, who doesn’t dive in at pool parties on account of her intense hairstyle, represent a future generation of desperate housewife? And most important, whatever happened to Edie?

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