TV Article

Bringing Up Baby

When kids stay bad on ''Desperate Housewives'': The women learn that difficult little boys grow up to be difficult little boys

Felicity Huffman | SINS OF THE FATHER-IN-LAW Lynette's husband's dad (Ryan O'Neal) has never had to say he's sorry
Image credit: Desperate Housewives: Bob D'Amico
SINS OF THE FATHER-IN-LAW Lynette's husband's dad (Ryan O'Neal) has never had to say he's sorry

''Desperate Housewives'': When kids stay bad

Seems everyone on Wisteria Lane has parenting woes. Lynette's troubles have been well-documented here, so we'll move right along to Zach, who tells his dad that he wishes his mom had shot his dad instead of offing herself. Then there's Susan's little angel, Julie, who is in the throes of first-time puppy love with Zach. Meanwhile, Gabrielle's ex-boy toy, John, is rebelling by underachieving (not surprising, considering his frosty mom, who seems capable of rivaling Bree's uptight perfectionism). And Bree's kids . . . well, her son, who was thankfully absent from this episode, could conceivably grow up to be a homicidal rage-aholic. But hopefully, we'll be spared that story line.

Now I'm not going to condone listening in on other people's phone conversations. But sometimes kids leave us no choice. At first I was at a loss to understand Susan's actions — and I'm still not sure that I agree with them. So what that she walked in on her daughter kissing a boy at the kitchen table? Julie is 14! Susan should count her blessings that a little mouth-to-mouth action was all she saw. Perhaps she's worried that the creepy guy will grow up to be a major nutjob. She's probably right. But doesn't she know that forbidden fruit is always more desirable?

John's mom and dad (the father's lusty scene with Gabrielle was the night's creepiest) also have a love-struck kid on their hands. Not only is John prepared to compromise his future by not going to college, but he also wants to marry his already married statutory rapist. Poor kid. He's got a lot to learn. It's hard to believe that a hottie high schooler like him wouldn't be out there playing the field. Sure John and Gabrielle must have had great sex. But there's never been any indication that there was anything more to their relationship than a horizontal connection. At least his proposal resulted in yet another classic throwaway Gabrielle line: ''I've tried poor but happy. Guess what? It wasn't that happy.''

Then there are the overgrown kids on Wisteria Lane. Rex. Carlos. Paul. And tonight's sexagenarian guest star, Ryan O'Neal. Sometimes casting is everything. (By the way, Desperate Housewives excels at non-stunt guest star placement, from casting Frasier's agent as Martha Huber's sister to casting Tony winner Roger Bart as Bree's would-be paramour.) And who better to play grandpa to four out-of-control kids than O'Neal? After all, he is, if his daughter Tatum's recent autobiography is to be believed, the quintessential father from hell. And a womanizer to boot. At least on the show he seems to have been a good enough father to Tom. But did he pass some of those womanizing genes on to his son?

It's a good thing Lynette rules Tom with an iron fist. Locking him out when he sided with his philandering dad was a nice touch. Imagine what she would do were he to confess infidelity. If only her mothering skills were so effective.

What did you think? Did the jealous pharmacist switch Rex's pills? Do you really believe Tom could ever cheat on Lynette? And is any man on this show worthy of these women?

Originally posted Jan 24, 2005
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