Why you need to know about ''Desperate Housewives''
THE DEAL After seemingly happy housewife Mary Alice (Brenda Strong) kills herself, her neighborhood pals, including divorced mom Susan (Teri Hatcher, right, with Nicolette Sheridan), Martha Stewart-esque Bree (Marcia Cross), and frustrated career girl turned stay-at-home mother Lynette (Felicity Huffman), watch their own lives start to unravel.
WHAT IT'S LIKE Think ''Melrose Place'' with a dollop of ''Six Feet Under.'' Sorta soapy, sorta funny, and plenty twisted.
BACK STORY Writer Marc Cherry (''The Golden Girls'') got the idea for the series from watching the trial of Andrea Yates, the woman who drowned her five children.
WHY YOU NEED TO KNOW IT This strange hybrid of humor and drama has a standout cast and is just offbeat enough to become a cult hit.
WILL WE WATCH? Even if this is plenty darker than ''Melrose,'' the world needs a new juicy nighttime soap. Throw in a catfight, and we'll be hooked.