Bree, what happened? Last night's "Desperate Housewives" finale marked a low ebb for Marcia Cross' character that was arguably the most complex and intriguing of the Wisteria Lane foursome when the the Sunday night sudser first bowed in 2004. "Housewives" creator Marc Cherry made Bree much more than a 2-D Martha Stewart-type by building her a rich back story, intriguing character traits including making her politically conservative and proud of it, and of course, and some great, great lines. Cross' delivery of the zinger "Rex cries when he ejaculates" at a dinner party scene in season one remains one of the skein's best moments, and not just for its can-they-say-that-on-TV risque-ness but because of how it demonstrated (showing without telling) the depth of Bree's pain at her husband's betrayal.
Sure, she's been through a lot during the ensuing 55 or so episodes -- dealing with Rex's passing, a psycho boyfriend, a drinking problem, another psycho boyfriend and his even more insane mother-in-law, plus various fights with her friends and the joys of mothering two horribly spoiled teenagers. But for pity's sake. By the end of last night's season closer, Bree has been reduced to sashaying around the cul-de-sac with a pregnancy falsie Nerf ball strapped to her belly because she can't bear the shame of her daughter getting in the family way with Edie's bad-boy nephew. The Bree of season one would have blamed the Clinton administration for debasing American culture with wantonness in the White House and then got about the business of building the perfect crib or something. The "Housewives" scribes get some credit for a clever way of making use of Cross' real-life pregnancy glow into the storyline this season but, really, hiding her behind counters and sofas and hedges might've been the better way to go.
There were some other howlers in the "Housewives" closer too, though in fairness the Susan-Mike wedding scene was sweet, especially for its brevity and thank goodness there were no flat tires or anything to complicate getting Mike to the ceremony site. Fan turnout was good but not great: Per Nielsen prelims, last night's "Housewives" drew 7.0 rating/17 share in adults 18-49 and an average of 18.4 million viewers, a modest bounce from its season average of 6.9 rating/16 share and 17.4 million viewers.
On a more positive note for ABC, the first-season closer of "Housewives'" 10 p.m. companion "Brothers and Sisters" was a strong, well-written seg that reinforced the faith ABC has demonstrated in the ensembler that seemed pretty scattered at the start of the 2006-07 campaign. No doubt ABC will give "Brothers and Sisters" heavy repeat plays this summer, which outta allow it to bring in new viewers and hang on to more of the "Housewives" crowd in its sophomore sesh in the fall. Last night's finale got a slight bounce over its season average, drawing 4.7 rating/12 share in 18-49 and 12.7 million pairs of eyeballs, compared to its season average of 4.3 rating/11 share and 11 million viewers.