Having often produced waterworks throughout her Emmy-winning seven-year run as Desperate Housewives‘ Lynette, Huffman tried to put on her game face when apprised that the coming season would be the ABC drama’s last. But ultimately, the weight of the loss crept up on her.
“I did that thing where when you hear big news, you kind of distance yourself from it,” Huffman shared at ABC’s Television Critics Association cocktail reception, just hours after Housewives‘ fate had been announced. “I was with my friend Sarah Paulson (Studio 60), and she kept going, ‘How are you doing? Are you alright?’” After bravely waving off such concern, Huffman says, “I went home … and I cried at the kitchen table with [husband/Shameless star] Bill [Macy].”
The moment of mourning was interrupted by one of the couple’s daughters, Georgia. “She came in, asking, ‘What’s going on?’” Huffman relates. Once updated, the pre-teen reassured, “Oh, mama, you’re going to work again!’” The actress laughs, “She was like a 9-year-old agent.”
Huffman had heard the sad news from one of the other Housewives, not unlike the gossip-rich grapevine of Wisteria Lane. “I guess I was the one who let Flicka know, which I didn’t realize!” Marcia Cross shares. “I texted her about coming [to the ABC party], while Eva [Longoria] was on her way to Spain.”
“I don’t know how [series boss] Marc [Cherry] got a hold of Eva, but he’s tenacious!” Huffman reports. “When I finally talked to her, she said, ‘Oh my God, if it is [the end] I’m going to cry!’”
Like Longoria, Teri Hatcher was not on hand for the ABC reception either. But Brenda Strong (aka our wise if dearly departed narrator, Mary Alice) was, and she, like Cross and Huffman, assuaged some of the sting by looking forward to the chance to end things properly, with an end date firmly set.
“I’m glad that we get to go out feeling great, that we won’t wither and die on the vine but do what Lost did,” Strong offered. “It was so beautiful the way ABC celebrated Lost and its series finale. I hope that’s how it’s going to be for us.”
Concurs Huffman, “I think it’s going to be lovely to have nine months to appreciate something that’s ending. When you know that something is finite, you taste it more.”
Everyone we talked to also agreed that it will be especially fulfilling to end the series with the same five original Housewives in the mix, with a dose of Vanessa Williams thrown in for good measure. “It gives the audience a sense of completion,” says Strong. “It will be nice to go back and look at all eight seasons and go, ‘Wow, that was an amazing ride,’ and see it all tied up with a red bow and an apple on top.”
And when May 2012 rolls around and the last bit of Wisteria hysteria plays out, what might Desperate Housewives‘ legacy be? “I think it changed the landscape of television in terms of [showcasing] strong women, late 30s into their 40s, [and demonstrating that] female characters are not ancillary, not just on someone’s arm,” Huffman told us.
Cross echoed that belief, saying that while only “time will tell” how and for what Housewives is remembered, “I hope the legacy — aside from Marc’s genius as a writer and producer — will be that it opened up more roles for women, and that that continues.”