Jeremy Eaton
Whether it's the nosy checkout lady at the supermarket, the rambling drunk at the bar, or the acne-pocked blow dealer down the block, I'm tired of people telling ME what shows I just HAVE to watch! As a television critic for a major metropolitan weekly, let me assure you I have watched EVERYTHING--including Everwood, 7th Heaven, and North Shore. And all those shows are CRAP. And yes, I know there's a difference between "entertaining crap" and "crap-crap." Melrose Place was "entertaining crap." My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancé was "entertaining crap." But The Mountain is crap-crap, Jack and Bobby is high-falutin' crap-crap, and North Shore (just like last year!) is still crappity-crap-CRAP.

HOWEVER! One new fall show is skirting the thin line between "entertaining crap" and "crap-crap," and it's the ABC comedy/drama/mystery/cat-fight freak-out Desperate Housewives (Sundays, 9 pm). It's the story of five foxy hausfraus all living on the immaculately manicured Wisteria Lane. After one of their pals blows her brains out for no apparent reason, they all begin questioning the perfection of their perfect lil' suburbia.

Marcia Cross (formerly Kimberly from Melrose Place) plays Bree, a Stepford-style wife wound so tight, she subconsciously tries to murder her deathly allergic hubby with onions. Teri Hatcher (who's looking a bit road-worn since her Lois & Clark days) plays an innocent divorcee who accidentally burns down the house of the neighborhood ho, Edie (Knots Landing's Nicolette Sheridan). Meanwhile, former supermodel Gabrielle (hotty Eva Longoria) is banging her gardener on the sly, and Lynette (SportsNight's Felicity Huffman) is this close to driving her three screaming asshole kids and the family minivan into the lake--a subplot the producers lifted from Texas' "desperate housewife" Andrea Yates, who eventually snapped and drowned her three children.

There's also a snoopy Christian neighbor, a suspicious hubby doing suspicious digging in the middle of the night, and the new hunky guy next door--who has something to do with the suicidal housewife's death. Now, on paper, this all sounds like some truly entertaining crap... but is it actually crappity-crap in disguise?

Don't get me wrong, Desperate Housewives is occasionally funny--but not half as clever as it thinks. None of the characters reach out and grab viewers, as they did in such classic nighttime soaps as Melrose Place or the woefully underrated Models Inc. And it's primarily because Housewives won't commit to going over the top--for example, if all the women had been portrayed by drag queens (or if they would at least let drag queens write the scripts). The show seems to be promoting itself as a cross between Melrose and Twin Peaks, and yet not a single person has been knocked into a pool, and there isn't ONE backwards-talking dancing midget!

Desperate Housewives needs to follow the lead of the far more successful FX show, Nip/Tuck: pump up the sex, double the treachery, and drag out the transvestites and serial killers. In short, they actually need to get DESPERATE. Because when a show finally attains that stink of true desperation, nothing else smells as sweet.