For the eight seasons that we had the pleasure of knowing the Desperate Housewives, we were pulled into their intricate, secret worlds filled with lying, cheating, murder (with good intentions), burning down houses and breaking up love affairs. But if Susan Mayer (later Delfino), Lynette Scavo, Bree Van de Kamp, and Gabrielle Solis were flawless, we would not have learned half as many valuable lessons as we did from their mistakes. There is good and bad in each of the women, but what can we say? We love them all anyway, alcohol problems and fake pregnancies included! From their many (and we mean many) scandals, we took on board subtle advice that can be applied to love, careers, life, and friendship. While as crazy as their dealings might have been we still found some good advice. Here are 15 lessons that we learned from the hilarious, sometimes tragic, but mostly courageous and admirable women of Wisteria Lane.
15 Don’t Dish It If You Can’t Take It
The golden rule is that you're supposed to treat people the way that you want to be treated, but it’s amazing how often that seems to slip our minds. There are too many examples of this kind of hypocrisy happening in Desperate Housewives for us to possibly point out all of them, but the lady who first comes to mind is the smoking hot Gabrielle. When we meet her, she’s having an affair with her teenage gardener—to her credit, he’s played by Jesse Metcalfe so we would also consider going down that road! She doesn’t feel bad for her husband Carlos until a little while later, but when Carlos cheats on her with the housekeeper, she totally can’t handle it. Here, Gabrielle teaches us what not to do in life: do things to other people that we wouldn’t want to be done to us. Karma travels further than the suburb of Fairview!
14 Revenge Isn’t Always Worth It
Way too many people are solely motivated by revenge in this show, and every situation is a bit different. But for the most part, we can safely say that this show has taught us that revenge isn’t always worth all the sacrifices you have to make in order to get it. You know? Felicia Tilman cuts off her finger to frame (thus getting her revenge on) Paul Young. We do get the sentiment seeing as he killed her sister, Martha, also for revenge purposes interestingly enough. But cutting off a limb?! That's just going way too far. One of the things that the show teaches us is that if everybody has a right to get revenge, then the cycle never really ends because the family and friends of the people you get revenge on then have a right to get revenge on you, and you get the idea! Yes, it’s easier said than done, but letting sh*t go is sometimes a lot more peaceful.
13 Accept Your Rivals
One of the main rivalries on the show plays off between our beloved, fiery Bree, and Katherine. Everyone knows that out of the Wisteria Lane squad, Bree is the cook. Lynette’s the busy, sarcastic mom and businesswoman, Susan is the clumsy, adorable one, and Gaby is the materialistic ex-model. But Bree is the perfect traditional housewife, and it’s clear that she makes the best scones in Fairview and possibly the world. So when Katherine comes in and is also good at cooking and other Bree-type things, the two ladies go head to head. Once Bree confronts her about backing out of her niche, Katherine points out (and this is the first time that we actually like her!) that their similarities might bring about jealousy, but they also have the potential to be best friends! Not everything has to be a competition, and your rivals probably understand you better than other people.
12 You Don’t Know What You Got Until...
Nothing breaks our hearts like seeing our favorite ladies heartbroken themselves, and unfortunately, every single one of them has to go through some serious loss (screw you, show writers). Lynette suffers a miscarriage and witnesses her husband’s baby mama shot in front of her, Bree becomes a widow early on, Gaby falls in love with her adopted daughter and then watches as she’s ripped from her arms, and of course, Susan loses the love of her life, Mike Delfino. Plus there’s like a million other tragedies that take place through the show’s cheery eight-year run. What we can learn from watching the housewives in tears, is that none of us have control over everything. At the end of the day, there isn’t much we can do when the people we love are in the wrong place at the wrong time. So we have to appreciate them while we have them!
11 Never Underestimate The Power Of Good Friends
Even though the ladies have partners and families to lean on during those tough times, their main source of support is always each other. From the second we meet them at Mary Alice’s wake in the pilot episode, they’re there for each other and know how to make things better. Sometimes they do fight (remember when Lynette didn’t tell Gaby and Carlos she was pregnant?!), and they don’t have each other’s back in those situations. But they always feel it like a stab in the heart, and they always come back together and sort it out. Way to go, girls! It can be easy to feel down in our own lives when things aren’t going our way, and we often forget to count ourselves lucky for having amazing buddies to lean on! Not everybody has good friends, and they’re super important. Give yours a big hug next time you see them, okay?
10 Don’t Be Scared Of Change
We’ll be the first to admit that change is scary AF. But the housewives teach us that at least a little change is inevitable, and once we come out the other side, we’ll see it wasn’t so bad after all. In fact, we’re probably better off after going through a transformation than we are before! Let’s look at our ladies. Bree is probably the most obvious one—the woman goes from a perfect control freak with OCD tendencies (sorry, Bree, we love you!) to a gun-yielding bada$$ who is prepared to go to jail for her friends. Lynette goes from housewife to business woman and back again, and finds out that she’s actually an awesome mother in the process. And what about Gaby?! Selfish, narcissistic model to a dedicated mother in a tracksuit. Susan starts off as the neediest housewife and ends up as the most independent. We can do it too!
9 Money Isn’t Everything
Okay, nobody is calling Gaby a gold-digger. All we’re saying is she agreed to marry Carlos after three dates and enters the marriage believing that she’ll be happy as Carlos fills the house with expensive Italian furniture. Sigh! But through her affair with John, Gaby realizes that she is actually unhappy, even though she has all the money she ever wanted at her disposal. So money really doesn’t resolve every problem you have. But we knew that already! Gaby just spells it out for us clearly. She has designer clothes and a beautiful yellow house, but in the beginning, she doesn’t have her husband’s attention. She doesn’t have his respect (the actual nerve of him to mess around with her birth control behind her back!). And later on, when the couple does want a baby, their huge bank account can’t save them when the biological mother of their daughter wants her back.
8 Women Can Work And Be Moms, Too
All the housewives have varying experiences in the workplace, but it’s Lynette who illustrates for us that it’s okay to be both a worker and a mother. She begins as a total career woman in the advertising industry and is less than thrilled when she becomes pregnant. A few kids later, she finds herself as a stay-at-home mom while Tom is continuing the career she misses. From this, we learn that being a mom and a wife is hard work! Poor Lynette struggles quite a bit chasing after her offspring. We also get the idea that not every woman loves being a traditional housewife and not every woman is happy doing that, and that’s also fine. Lynette goes back to work soon enough and leaves Tom to stay at home with the kids, and this teaches us that families totally don’t have to stick to gender norms to make things work!
7 People Make Mistakes
As we mentioned, all the housewives screw up every now and then. Off the top of our heads? Susan sneaking into Edie’s house to pry and then accidentally burning the place down. Gabrielle’s affair and falling in love with a politician named Victor who turns out to be a psycho. Lynette thinking that she does not want to be with Tom anymore and slapping his daughter across the face. And Bree mindlessly putting onions in her husband’s salad even though she knows he is allergic, and trusting the creepy pharmacist who kills Rex. See? Nobody is perfect, and though the housewives do make mistakes, they manage to forgive each other most of the time. You never have to forgive someone who’s been awful to you, but it’s always good to keep in mind that people can be careless or stupid, and the world can carry on just like it did before.
6 It’s Okay To Follow Your Passion
It takes a lot of bravery to follow your heart in life, but all the power to you if you can! While it doesn’t always work out, and it’s certainly a good idea to have a plan B ready, just in case, the housewives teach us that you never know where life’s going to lead you. Miracles can and do happen! Have a look at Bree. She begins as a housewife who doesn’t work, but her passion for cooking naturally leads her to develop a catering company with Katherine, which then leads to a series of cookbooks and televised demonstrations and the whole works! This also teaches us that sometimes, by just doing what we love without any real plan, amazing things just fall effortlessly into our laps. And even if our passions don’t work out as careers, they keep us sane and happy so it’s important to nurture them anyways!
5 You Never Know How Strong You Are
It’s often said that things always seem more frightening or more difficult when you’re anticipating them, and then when they come, they aren’t nearly so bad. With the housewives, all four of them definitely get thrown into terrifying situations that probably would have worried them for weeks had they known what to expect. In the moment, though, they always find a way of coping. They all come face-to-face with violent perpetrators, wild weather conditions, raging fires, gun-yielding scorned aggressors, cancer and even a plane that crashes into their street, but they’re all still standing by the end of it. They have to deal with the loss of loved ones and disappointing partners and heartbreak and everything else under the sun, and it doesn’t destroy them like you’d think it would. So maybe we can totally handle things better than we feel we can, and look toward the future with confidence!
4 Love Happens More Than Once
Most Hollywood movies tell us that we’re supposed to wait for one perfect soulmate to come along and sweep us off our feet, and well, you know the rest! But Desperate Housewives, on the contrary, teaches us that not everyone has a lobster. Some people might have that one person whom we’ll love forever, the way Lynette has Tom, but for others, there might be a series of loves in a lifetime. We lost count of how many relationships Bree has! But that doesn’t mean that any one of the men she sees is worth less than the others when it comes to big loves. Except for George the creepy pharmacist—he can just go…The others, though, from Rex to Orson to Trip, are all in love with her for a time, whether that’s brief or long lasting. A love isn’t any less special because it’s a second or a third (or a tenth).
3 People Hide Things
Do they ever! The whole concept of Desperate Housewives is pretty much people who look great from the outside but are secretly harboring these horrible secrets and exhausting baggage. When we meet them, the ladies have a plethora of problems that are non-existent on the outside. Gaby looks like she has it all but her husband doesn’t respect her and she’s starved for attention. Lynette looks like she finally has the family of her dreams but she secretly despises being a housewife and misses her job. Bree looks like the perfect wife and mother, but her marriage is hanging by a thread and her children can’t stand her. Susan is a little more obvious about not having it together, bless her. The point is people always have their own issues going on. Always, always, always. This means you shouldn’t be intimidated by people who seem perfect, and you should always be kind.
2 Secrets Come Back To Bite You
The other root of the show is this lesson here: nothing stays buried. Not blackmail letters, not dead bodies of evil stepfathers and not well-hidden secrets that you thought would never be spoken of again. Each of the housewives try to hide something throughout the seasons, that of course, fails miserably. Carlos finds out about Gaby’s affair. Mike finds out that Susan sent his son away behind his back. Edie learns that Susan burned down her house. Paul finds out that Martha was blackmailing his wife. Gaby and Carlos discover Lynette is pregnant when she’s working for them. And they discover that Bree’s son Andrew killed Carlos’s mom with the car (accidentally, of course!). The moral of the story is, whatever it is will probably come out sooner or later. So, you know, when you can help it, don’t say and do stuff that you’re going to have to bury.
1 You Will Be Okay On Your Own
Unlike many television shows, Desperate Housewives leaves arguably its most significant protagonist, Susan, without a significant other at the series finale. We all thought she was going to end up with the love of her life, Mike. They finally overcome their challenges and everybody’s in perfect health and there’s no lingering impending doom, and then all of a sudden, Mike gets killed in a brawl that has nothing to do with him (again, screw you, writers!). Rather than scrambling some replacement for him so Susan can end up with a partner like everyone else, the show says goodbye to Susan as she leaves the lane with her children. She might end up with someone in the future, but the point is that for now, she’s alone. It’s okay to be on your own and thought it might not feel like it, you have enough strength to move forward alone.