Time to move off Wisteria Lane: EW has learned that Desperate Housewives will end its eight-year run on ABC in May. The network is expected to make it official on Sunday, when it meets with the nation’s TV critics in Beverly Hills.
News of the show’s series finale doesn’t come as a huge surprise, since the four stars recently went through a protracted — and pricey — salary renegotiation to return for another season of the Sunday drama. (Earning north of $400,000 per episode, they were already among the highest-paid actresses in prime time). Still, the drama’s core cast — which includes Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross and Eva Longoria — were reportedly shocked by the decision, as creator Marc Cherry had indicated that he wanted the show to extend through a ninth year.
Housewives — which has earned multiple awards since its 2004 premiere, including Emmys for Huffman and Kathryn Joosten– certainly isn’t the most-talked about series on TV right now but it remains a stable player on ABC’s lineup. Though not as competitive as it used to be, the series averaged 11.9 million viewers last season (down from 14.1 million the previous year) and a 3.9 rating among adults 18-49 (down from a 4.9). It’s been averaging a drop of a full ratings point each season over the last three years.
Meanwhile, Cherry has begun to focus on ABC’s future. He developed a drama called Hallelujah that didn’t get a pickup for fall. He’s now rewriting the high-concept show about a Tennessee town that finds itself being torn apart by forces of good and evil. There’s even a musical element to the show.
In addition to his duties on Housewives, the new project no doubt provided a welcome respite from the drama that’s currently winding its way through the court system involving ex-Wisteria Lane resident Nicollette Sheridan. The actress alleged that she was wrongfully terminated from Housewives after getting into an argument with Cherry. Though the initial news of Sheridan’s departure was a shocker, the show continued without losing a beat, especially after it added Vanessa Williams as Renee Perry to the neighborhood.
Next season’s premiere on Sept. 25 should be particularly interesting to fans since it will address this season’s big cliffhanger. All of the women are hiding the murder of a man who raped Gaby when she was a child. The baddo was actually Gaby’s stepfather, played by Ugly Betty’s Tony Plana. Gaby’s husband Carlos was the one who killed him but all the women witnessed the murder.
Housewives has always been at its best when all four of the women are knee-deep in some sort of hot mess.