The women of Wisteria Lane stayed there long enough to endure a tornado, a plane crash, multiple murders, and dozens of affairs. Then after eight seasons, they all finally just moved away. When ABC launched the primetime soap Desperate Housewives in 2004, the critical and ratings smash about four women's torrid suburban lives revitalized the network and became a watercooler staple. Though the show's popularity has waned, its final two-hour episode, which aired Sunday night, was typically packed with dramatic twists: A murder trial, an emotional death, a wedding disaster, and the birth of a baby. Was Desperate Housewives' swan song satisfying?
It was nearly perfect: The final two hours "may have struck some as sappy and pat," says Robert Bianco at USA Today, but the show wisely left its major characters happy and settled: "A happy ending is what most fans want to see." All four women were given juicy send-offs — highlights included a ridiculous caper with Gaby and Renee stealing a wedding dress, and a finely written emotional monologue about love from Lynette — and "you can't help thinking that Sundays may be just a little less fun without them."
"After eight seasons, Housewives gets its storybook ending"
It was a "semi-graceful exit" at best: The "main event," the final half-hour of the episode in which the characters gave their emotional goodbyes, was truly satisfying, says Brian Lowry at Variety. The preceding 90 minutes, however, were dragged down by "a lot of unwieldy baggage from the ho-hum final season." Bree's murder trial ended in a woeful anticlimax, while the irritating reunion of Tom and Lynette underlined how badly the writers mishandled that arc all season long.
"Desperate Housewives makes semi-graceful exit"
It was a reminder of why the show was once so special: The "tidy, affectionate send-off" also managed to remind viewers why the show became a hit in 2004, says Frazier Moore of the Associated Press. "It burst on the scene as a lighthearted soufflé of blackmail, lust, adultery, and sisterhood," and the show's final moment — the introduction of a new housewife who moves onto Wisteria Lane amid hints of some dark goings-on — was a brilliant wink to the show's penchant for mystery and scandal. Just because viewers are leaving the Lane "doesn't mean there's any danger of things settling down."
"Desperate Housewives says farewell with grace and humor"