Desperate Straits: The Days of Our Wives

CULTURE WATCH

More than 40 years after June Cleaver, TV has again discovered the American housewife. She may wish it hadn't. In ABC's Desperate Housewives (Sundays, 9 p.m. E.T.), a suburban mom (Brenda Strong) wakes up one morning, does her chores, then shoots herself in the head. Her suicide leads her friends to question their own unhappy lives, from the career woman mired at home with her unruly kids (Felicity Huffman) to the maniacally perfect Martha Stewart wannabe (Marcia Cross).

Housewives is already a critics' darling for its mordant humor and terrific cast. But it trades on a dated image of...

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