'Desperate Housewives': Housewives Confidential

II. The Housewives Hit It Big
Following a summer-long marketing blitz that put the faces of Longoria, Hatcher, Huffman, and Cross on billboards across the country, Housewives debuted on Oct. 3, 2004, to 21.6 million viewers, making it ABC's biggest drama launch since NYPD Blue 11 years earlier. In conjunction with Lost, the show helped ABC climb out of the ratings basement.
McPherson We put almost 90 percent of our fall marketing budget against Lost and Desperate Housewives. We figured after that we could build on the success of those and use them as marketing platforms. That fall was really the change from what we had done previously.
Longoria The day after the premiere, everybody was on set — Access Hollywood and Extra and the Today show. I just remember everyone bringing baskets and champagne and everybody celebrating. I was like, ''Oh my God, this is big!''
Cross It was definitely nonstop. It was late nights into the morning. It was photo shoots on the weekends. It was just constantly show up and do what you have to do. It was also a huge learning curve. It's not like one knows how to do this.
Denton Literally, the show was on the air Sunday — things were different on Monday. We learned to sit in the corner at restaurants or get through the airport a little quicker.
Brenda Strong Early on, I'd be standing in line at Starbucks and I would start to speak, and people's heads would whip around like, ''Oh my God, that's the voice.''
Hatcher My first experience at being on the side of every bus was Lois & Clark. When a show hits, the thing I celebrate is feeling a bit of job security.
Larry Shaw, Former Producer In the first half of season 1, the cast went to Oprah. In the second half of season 1, Oprah came to us. She came to our set. That's how fast we got big.

Housewives artfully blended its overarching mystery of Mary Alice's suicide — spurred by blackmailing threats from Martha Huber (Christine Estabrook) — with hot-button and often titillating plotlines. There was voyeuristic appeal in watching shiny happy suburbanites engage in seamy activities, be it Gaby's affair with her underage gardener or Rex's S&M fetish.
Mark Moses It wasn't a mystery like Lost — it wasn't all that complicated — but it was enticing.
Steven Culp People saw themselves in Bree. In the first episode, she upholsters her own furniture, and my wife turned to me and said, ''Wait a minute, I do all that!''
Michael McDonald, ABC Studios EVP There were beautiful women in beautiful outfits, whether Teri was naked in the bushes or Nicollette was washing the car.
Longoria Marc always said that he thought Gaby would be the most hated of the show because of her affair with the young boy and her superficiality, but she was beloved and we thought, ''Whoa! What happened?'' It was really nice because you love to hate Gaby.
Jesse Metcalfe I never had morality issues with the story line, I know a lot of people did. Thinking about it, it was pretty controversial. The character was supposed to be 16.
Denton That scene with Nicollette washing her car, that's the only scene where I took my shirt off for three years. But it's iconic because they ran the promo over and over. I'm glad that's over. I'm too old for that.

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