Desperate Housewives captured the attention of the public for eight seasons — but the behind-the-scenes drama has kept people talking.
The ABC series premiered in 2004 and was created by Marc Cherry. Starring Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross and Eva Longoria, the show followed a group of women living on the same fictional street dubbed Wisteria Lane. The dark comedy also had a series of notable supporting cast and guest stars including Nicollette Sheridan, Vanessa Williams, Jesse Metcalfe and others.
While the actresses played friends on screen, relationships behind the camera were allegedly tense throughout the years. Even after the show wrapped up in 2012, more information about the dynamics on set has come to light.
Keep scrolling to see a timeline of the Desperate Housewives drama over the years:
Following its inaugural season, the show earned a series of accolades at the Golden Globes ceremony including Outstanding Television Series – Musical or Comedy and Best Actress – Television Series Drama for Hatcher. The critical acclaim led the cast landing the cover of Vanity Fair — which reportedly did not go well.
For the cover photo, the women posed together in bathing suits by a pool with a headline that read, “You Won’t Believe What It Took Just To Get This Photo!” The article claimed that a rep for ABC asked the magazine staff to keep Hatcher from selecting her outfit first. Despite receiving the request, however, Hatcher allegedly had first pick of the wardrobe, subsequently upsetting the others.
The final result of the photo ended with Sheridan in the center between Hatcher and Cross, with Longoria and Huffman posed below them. Both Huffman and Cross weren’t visible when the foldout of the magazine was closed. Following the release of the cover and article, ABC released a statement about the alleged drama.
“While negotiating certain elements of photo shoots is standard practice, and was part of our coordination with Vanity Fair, this shoot simply did not go as planned,” the network stated. “Because of this, our talent were made to deal as best they could with a situation not of their making. This one isolated incident does not define these women or their relationship.”
After being on the show for five years, Sheridan’s character was killed off and she announced she was leaving the show. In 2010, Sheridan filed a $20 million lawsuit in April 2010 against Cherry and the network for alleged assault and battery, gender violence and wrongful termination.
Sheridan claimed she was assaulted by Cherry on set when she was struck on the head during a 2008 rehearsal. Cherry refuted the claims of assault and said that he had tapped Sheridan on the forehead to show her how she should play out a physical gag in a scene.
During the case’s testimony, Cherry revealed the plan to write off Sheridan’s character was approved by the network one year before letting her know about the decision. The case was ultimately dismissed in 2012 after the court had found that Sheridan had not been wrongfully fired.
When details of Sheridan’s lawsuit came to light, a group of writers came forward to allege Cherry created a difficult work environment. Several former staff writers came forward to the Daily Beast to allege that Cherry was “confrontational” and favored his male writers over the women staff.
After the show wrapped up, the cast teamed up to get farewell gifts for the crew — but Hatcher was seemingly not involved.
“Just know that on all your future adventures you are carrying a little piece of our love and gratitude. Thank you for a magical 8 years. Love, Eva, Marcia, Felicity and Vanessa,” the card read according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Hatcher, for her part, seemingly addressed the tension with her former costars in an email to TV Guide Magazine.
“I will never disclose the true and complicated journey of us all, but I wish everyone on this show well,” she penned at the time. “Marc created out of thin air a majestic street called Wisteria Lane with its picket fences, its flowers always in bloom … and four really complimentary characters: a selfish girl, a harried woman, a repressed control freak and a soul-searching, well-meaning fumbler. Those four characters and the actresses who played them seemed to meld together in a way that harkens the phrase ‘once in a lifetime.’”
Huffman pled guilty for her involvement in the college admissions scandal, which was a nationwide ploy to influence undergraduate admissions decisions at several top American universities. (Huffman apologized for her role in the scandal, admitting she paid to improve her daughter Sophia’s SAT scores before serving 14 days in prison.)
However, Longoria wrote a letter on behalf of her friend and former costar. In the message, Longoria revealed that Huffman had stood up for her while she was being bullied by one of their cast mates during season 1 of Desperate Housewives.
“I dreaded the days I had to work with that person because it was pure torture,” Longoria wrote. “Until one day, Felicity told the bully ‘enough’ and it all stopped. Felicity could feel that I was riddled with anxiety even though I never complained or mentioned the abuse to anyone.”
Cherry, for his part, also shared similar instances about a problematic cast member in his very own character reference for Huffman.
“Everyone tried their darndest to get along with this woman over the course of the show. It was impossible. And things went from bad to worse,” Cherry penned. “Felicity still insisted on saying ‘good morning’ to this actress, even though she knew she wouldn’t get a response. I found out about this and asked Felicity about it. She smiled and said, ‘Just because that woman’s determined to be rude, doesn’t mean she can keep me from being polite.’”
“The writers weren’t barred from the set, but we weren’t exactly welcome. Usually we’d only see the cast at table reads, where we’d sit quietly in the back and try not to make eye contact with Teri Hatcher,” she claimed.
Lin also claimed that she experienced “overt racism” from Cherry during season 1 and she was given the “busy work of writing the marginally funny material” while Cherry gave the brunt of the main work to his “loyal team.”
“With this wildly inefficient system, it’s a miracle that any episodes of Desperate Housewives ever got made. The quality that had attracted me to the pilot — the dark humor — was lost in the slapdash, assembly-line approach to what was supposed to be a creative process,” she wrote.