The Husband:

Man, I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know if it’s the writing or the winter break or I’m just losing my patience, but between Grey’s Anatomy last Thursday and last night’s Desperate Housewives, I have suddenly found most of the show’s characters temporarily unbearable. With GA it was the boring repetition of themes past and fights present, and with DH it’s that many of the characters have reverted back to their old, flawed selves from way early in the show’s run. Am I alone in this? Has everybody always been this obnoxious? I hope not, because that would not bode well for both the future of the show’s and, more importantly, my enjoyment of said shows.

In fact, I can pretty much shove all but one of the “housewives” stories into one short paragraph, so as to demonstrate my lack of interest in them. Bree, having emasculated Orson again and again in public situations, is taken to task by Alex, her future son-in-law, on the way she treats people. The two finally come to an understanding, and everything becomes okay again. Susan gets accidentally locked in Edie’s basement with her, where she learns, through some tough love, that she is completely unable to exist without having a man around. Gaby, meanwhile, can no longer control her kids, as they respect their now-full-time-employee father more, so she lets her gardener (Gary Anthony Williams, from respectively one of my favorite sitcoms, Malcolm in the Middle, and one of my favorite comedies, Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle), who has a couple “monsters” of his own, come in and yell the children into shape. Gaby and Carlos come to an understanding about child-rearing, and everything is okay.

As for Lynette – who as you know if you’ve read even one of my DH posts is my favorite character not just of the show but in recent television – she herself was not unbearable but her story left a great deal to be desired. When a crotchety old man comes to Lynette complaining about her son, she is confused until she finds out that Porter, who ran away in order to stave off jail (on charges of something he didn’t even do), has been living with Lynette’s mother at the local retirement home and has been making a ruckus. Lynette goes over and gets into a heated argument with her mother, a relationship that seems to have very much changed between the pre-time warp of s5 and now. The show explains that they are on bad terms, pretty much, because Lynette noticed that her mother was gambling away all of her savings, began drinking again and kept falling asleep with lit cigarettes in her mouth, and that she put her in the retirement community as a result. Not a bad decision, really, but it does tend to drive people a part.

Lynette’s mother, however, is one step ahead and already tipped Porter off, so Lynette drives away in a huff. Suddenly, she comes up with a plan, wherein she fakes a car accident and has somebody call her mother, thus tricking her mother and Porter into showing up at the hospital. The plan works but drives Lynette and her mother further apart, until they talk about their underlying issues and vow to work through them.

Porter, meanwhile, goes to court off-screen and the charges are immediately dropped in a completely anticlimactic ending to a storyline that had taken up so much of the show. Was it really that simple? Just show up and the implied arson charges are dropped? How about the evil Warren Schilling? Where was he? Did he get into a motorcycle accident while not filming the show, too? Can we expect to only hear his voice over the phone just like recovering actor Gale Harold?

Brothers & Sisters, on the other hand, recovered very nicely from last week’s sadly pedestrian episode with a melodramatic hour full of Shonda Rhimes-worthy questions of ethics in all of its characters.

You cant even bother to show up at your own sisters book signing? I am hurt, Walker Clan. Hurt.

You can't even bother to show up at your own sister's book signing? I am hurt, Walker Clan. Hurt.

Kitty, as you know, has a book to promote, one on being on the campaign trail with her husband Robert McAllister and how it affected her own Walker family, and has been getting some very high-profile interviews, including appearances by the never-too-busy-to-shill Regis and Kelly. The next day, she has a local Los Angeles book reading and signing, but unfortunately Nora is the only family member to show up. Why is this and what caused all these rifts? Let’s go through all the candidates.

  • Well, Kevin, having recovered from surgery two episodes ago, is back at work as communications director for Robert, and against his better judgment is forced by Robert to schedule a meeting with a prominent politician who is, apparently, the person to go to if one is interested in running for higher office. Kevin doesn’t want Robert to ignore Kitty and would love to be honest with her, but he has to separate the professional from the personal. By episode’s end, Kevin learns of what he already suspected, that after a grueling and failed campaign for president, Robert is now interested in running for governor, and that he will tell Kitty of this plan when he is damn well and ready.
  • Justin is taking the day to move into his new but shitty apartment.
  • Tommy is trying to rope Saul in on a scheme to oust Holly as the CEO of Ojai Foods through very complicated means, which would include he and Saul buying up an orchard, being silent partners, getting involved with Ojai, then take their now bigger shares and earn control of the company and then fire Holly. Why this prevented Tommy from going to the book signing I’m not sure, but it is Tommy being kind of vicious and, as usual, not an especially appealing character. Saul refuses to participate in the plan, though, so Tommy
  • Sarah, having the best and most dramatic story of the week, has discovered that Greentopia and its founders need an extra flux of cash before a convention in order to promote their environmentally conscious website, but none of them have any idea where to get the money. Nora, who is dealing with her own issues with the design of her new charity center, gets wind of this and asks Kitty to help, who shows up to Greentopia’s “office” (Sarah’s house) with a check for $120,000. Much to the creators’ dismay, Sarah refuses the check, accusing Kitty of always being greater than her and always swooping down to be a savior whenever anybody in the family has a problem. Sarah, however, discovers she cannot take out a loan for the company, so she goes back to Kitty, who now realizes she shouldn’t have to buy Sarah’s love and respect, so they come to an agreement and have Sarah, who needs to take some responsibility, take out a second mortgage with Kitty as guarantor.

What struck me about this specific story was about how serious the fights between Sarah and Kitty were and yet they were done at a very quiet, sensible level with argument tones not of anger but of hurt and confusion. Neither had to raise their voice to be heard or to insult, and that’s a refreshing change for a medium so known for its histrionics. (Grey’s, I’m looking at you specifically.) And yet, everything was happening in this scene, so the energies present made the fights that much more interesting.

I also appreciate how Nora is handling her new charity project and her explanation of why she’s doing it. Basically, she feels that until now her legacy has been simply to raise her children and keep the family together, but now that everybody is grown up and she has no stake in Ojai Foods, she needs to do something that matters, something that lasts, something that will make her a true human being. But guess what? When she’s telling all this information onscreen, she’s not weeping uncontrollably about all of her regrets but instead is calmly reasserting her decision to be a better, more giving person. It’s uplifting more than depressing, and I respect that decision as far as the show’s tone is concerned.

B&S is back on track, and I am eternally grateful that this very serious and adult show still manages to crack the Nielsen Top 20 every now and again. It’s nice to see such quality get justified attention. It doesn’t happen enough, honestly, on the same week we say goodbye to the stellar Lipstick Jungle.