Photo Credit: ABC
It's a common TV trope: "Someone's going to die." In promos for a popular drama, an announcer warns that a beloved character is about to meet his or her death. Sometimes the information is merely leaked, but either way, the result is the same: "Who will it be?" we wonder. "Oh, no, they couldn't kill that person!" "It must be this other one." "I'll never forgive them if it's such and such." And on and on it goes, until the episode arrives--and it turns out to be some obscure friend of a character that no one cares about.
Next week on Desperate Housewives someone's going to die. (Or, as the promo said, "Not all will survive.") In a recent interview with TV Guide, producer Marc Cherry confirmed the long-running rumor that a plane will crash into Wisteria Lane on Dec. 6. The wreck, he said, "will claim the lives of three characters: one minor, one central and one major who's been on since season one." So go ahead, fans, take it from here--place your bets, guess away, and hype the episode much more effectively than the network ever could.
But really, this time, shouldn't we know better? We were naïve and inexperienced back in the early nineties, when Beverly Hills 90210 grabbed our attention with a pending death announcement. Would it be Donna? Kelly? Brenda? Uh, no. It turned out to be some guy named Scott--David Silver's "best friend." Since then, we've seen this done on so many shows--NCIS, Grey's Anatomy, Lost. We know the drill by now. Sometimes it's a major character whose fate we figure out on our own. A person's death isn't surprising when we've seen the actress who plays her running through the promos of another show, or heard about her failed contract negotiations.
Desperate Housewives fans, of all people, ought to be leery about the "someone's gonna die" hype. Wisteria Lane has endured shootouts, hostage situations, tornadoes, fires, crazy people--you name it. But the original fab four--Lynette (Felicity Huffman), Gaby (Eva Parker Longoria), Susan (Teri Hatcher), and Bree (Marcia Cross)--are as alive and catty as ever. This time around, fans are predicting the early demise of either Orson (Kyle MacLachlan) or Karl (Richard Burgi). Possibly, but not probably Carlos (Ricardo Chavira). Some think that Susan's daughter, Julie (Andrea Bowen), is among the doomed. Others figure Lynette might lose one or both of her unborn babies. None of these characters are especially close to viewers' hearts. When this disaster episode concludes, it won't be too hard to move on. And maybe that's a good thing.
When I think of TV character deaths that have shocked me, or actually left me feeling sad, they have one thing in common: Their demises arrived without warning. Gary (Peter Horton) on 30-something. Billy (Gil Bellows) on Ally McBeal. Jack's wife, Teri (Leslie Hope), on the final episode of 24, season one. In those instances, it actually was a little hard to move on. I didn't like 30-something after Gary died, and it took me a long time to warm up to Ally McBeal again after Billy collapsed, mid-argument, on the courtroom floor. 24 succeeded in pulling me back in, but only because it went on a long hiatus after the producers murdered Teri.
Desperate Housewives has never professed to be anything more than campy fun, even when knee deep in death. It's not a show that likes to bring its viewers down--just jostle them a little. Someone will die on Dec. 6, and lots of fans will save or lose face about their predictions. And then we'll all move on. That's life on Wisteria Lane.
Which characters do you think will die? Chime in below!