This fateful season on television marks the end of three, eight-year-strong series: Desperate Housewives, House MD, and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Each boasting over 170 episodes, these series have become an integral part of American culture and have made their mark on television history. In their memory, let’s take a look back.
Desperate Housewives first aired in 2004 on ABC and has challenged the definition of ‘suburbia’ ever since. The show follows the lives of four seemingly ordinary housewives on beautiful Wisteria Lane – Susan Delphino is a painter and single mother, Bree Van de Kamp attends Church every Sunday and regularly bakes muffins for her neighbors, Lynette Scavo has more kids than she knows what to do with, and Gabrielle Solis is a shopaholic with a rich husband. The series begins as the neighborhood reacts to the suicide of Mary Alice Young, the fifth housewife in this group of friends, and our narrator throughout all eight seasons. There are dark secrets in every house on the Lane, and Susan, Bree, Lynette, and Gaby are just starting to realize how hopelessly entangled they are.
In the ensuing seasons, the housewives deal with everything Home Economics didn’t prepare them for: murder, stalkers, disappearances, pregnancies, divorces, imprisonment, hookers, perjury, revenge, affairs, and countless plot twists. Although the mysteries running through each season have much allure, the lighthearted antics that many of the housewives find themselves in also add humor. It’s sad to see such an iconic show end, but the season finale (May 13th) hinted that the new residents of Wisteria Lane will be up to the same old shenanigans as the housewives before them.
House MD, better known as House, is a medical drama from Fox that also first aired in 2004. Dr. Gregory House is a genius at diagnostics. Extremely intelligent, but also cynical and sarcastic, House takes on a new case every episode along with his medical team – Chase, Cameron, and Foreman. His only friends in the hospital are the long-suffering Dr. James Wilson, an oncologist who works next door, and his no-nonsense boss Dr. Lisa Cuddy.
With its amusing blend of medical mystery and character-driven drama, House swiftly reached a rank among the top ten rated US shows and even became the most watched TV program in 2008 – not to mention, it made the blazer/tee-shirt combo cool.
As the show progressed, changes are made to House’s original team and colorful new doctors are introduced. The cases get wackier and wackier, and often touch upon thought-provoking issues such as euthanasia, the role of religion in science, and House’s famous theory that “everyone lies.” All the while, we witnesses personal struggles in the arrogant doctor’s life, in particular, his relationship with Cuddy and his on-again, off-again addiction to Vicodin. The final episode will air on May 21st.
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition has been changing lives and touching hearts since 2003.This reality series is focused on building custom designed houses for families in need. A family will submit a video explaining their situation – some have handicapped children, others have lost homes in natural disasters, and still others are simply good people who’ve fallen on bad luck – and the Makeover Team will show up in front of their house with an enormous bus. After lots of tears and hugging, the family is sent away for a week as the team builds a new house with all the bells and whistles that these good people deserve. Ty Pennington’s wild enthusiasm as he directs the show leads to both laughter and tears, while the audience is given brief flashbacks of the family’s hardships. When it’s all over, the family is brought back to the property, and with the famous mantra of “Move that bus!”, they get their first look at their new life.
Extreme Makeover’s 210th (and final) episode aired a few months ago, bringing nine seasons of inspiration to a close. From Ty’s “secret rooms” (a special project he worked on for each episode), to state-of-the-art handicap accessible spaces, to deeply moving life stories, this series was entertaining on a number of different levels and truly proved a cut above the rest of reality TV.
It seems so strange to say goodbye to these three remarkable series, all of which have made a huge splash in pop culture. Hopefully we can look forward to creative new shows to replace these ones in the upcoming 2012-2013 season.