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'Desperate Housewives': Mom always loves you best (not)

March 22, 2010 |  7:19 am

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“You should never trust family photos. They are designed to be deceiving,” Mary Alice affirms as a montage of photographs of the Van De Kamp family fills the screen.

Photos, like families, are indeed deceiving. The great thing about photos is you can just change the pose and snap another one, yet families are forever. But as the women proved on this week's episode, like a bad photo, families can be corrected with a new pose and the bright flash of the camera's bulb.

Although the episode moved along a number of storylines -- Sam becoming an official Van De Kamp, Preston and Irina’s unexpected nuptials, Katherine and Robin exploring their relationship and, of course, setting up the end of the Bolen’s season-long mystery -- there was one distraction that lingered in each household.

The housewives' complete control and dominance and their need to control their children took center stage. Now this isn’t the first time that I have noticed this ongoing theme. It seems to be the foundation for Lynette’s character, but it works given her "I wear the pants in this house" attitude. And, frankly, I’ve always liked it about her character, considering Tom’s lackadaisical approach to parenting and how close Lynette mirrors the everyday, hard-working mom who wears a million hats.  And this theme has been constant in the Van De Kamp family for good reason. Bree always had her work cut out for her, especially in the early seasons, when Danielle and Andrew needed less silver-spoon treatment and more rusty belt.

Susan was never this way with Julie, and maybe it’s partly because they were "Gilmore Girls" 2.0 and Julie was more the parent in that household (until, of course, that whole affair-with-a-married-man thing when she was a full-fledged adult). But with M.J., I always feel a great deal of pity for the little guy whenever I see him. Competition ensues when there is a class chocolate sale, and once again the viewer suffers through both Susan's and Gabby's insecurities about their kids.

Susan wants M.J. to win because he’s never won anything in his life and blah, blah, blah while Gabby wants Juanita to win because she has no friends and this would be a boost to her confidence. You know what a nice boost would be? Having parents that you don’t feel are embarrassed by you. I forget that Gabby and Carlos even have another kid because every child plot line involves Juanita (which I don't mind; she's adorable and brilliant). And Susan can really let up with M.J. -- first the boy wasn’t smart enough, and now this. You’d think after he almost was killed last season they would cut the poor guy some slack.

Watching the two go back and forth was both fun and depressing. Gabby’s charm and comedic timing are  always a joy, but come on Cherry & Co., let’s not use these kids solely as filler fodder when they could be used for much better things -- what those are, I'm not sure.

I’m usually annoyed by Lynette’s need to control, but in this latest story arc, it works. She hates watching Preston get played like a gudok (sorry folks, it’s a Russian fiddle), and she has no control over the situation. The ring ploy didn’t work, and neither did letting them get a small apartment in hopes that the close quarters would break them apart.

It’s sad seeing how ridiculous Preston is being over this girl, who is clearly playing him.  I haven’t figured out why though; it’s not like he comes from a fountain of wealth. What little money he does have he spends on her. Talk about a rookie golddigger -- she could at least have found a teen with a silver spoon. She must have other, more devious plans. Preston would benefit from having more Tom influence. Which we know won’t happen anytime soon. If we know Lynette, she will figure this out sooner rather than later, before there is another Mrs. Scavo. The thought is terrifying.

Now there is Bree. She's the Lane's perfect, wholesome mother. And although her notion of the ideal family has disintegrated faster than you can say Tiger Woods, she continues to demonstrate that she would choose perfection over two real children. Look at Danielle -- this is the first time we’ve seen her in how long? Although  Danielle contributed to the souring of feelings with her whole foray into MTV “Teen Mom” territory, we could have used more Danielle time on the show. Did she go to college on another planet? She certainly never came back to visit, and once she took the baby back, that was almost the end of that.

At least the entire Andrew-versus-Bree thing has been easier for my mind to grasp and follow. I was ecstatic that Bree had started accepting that Andrew was gay -- and she did, especially when he got a smart boyfriend (minus the porn thing). But look how quickly she turns her back on him the second this Sam character walks into her life.

Bree is head over heels for Sam because he is much like her: perfect and cold. Like the Ice King he is, he sets her up nicely to fall into whatever trap he has planned. She discovered his “secret” when she went to his house to check on him after Andrew assaulted him. After some thought, I realized it was a set-up. Of course Bree would be perfect and bring a basket of baked goods. It cures everything and has for six seasons now. Your mom kills herself? Brownies. Your husband leaves you? Scones. My son pummels you in the workplace for being creepy and trying to take over the company after a week? Well, you get the point.

What confuses me the most is how Bree’s idea of the perfect son has allowed her to forget to use her usual discerning judgment when it comes to people. Well of course she’d want to know who this woman was? Of course she’d ask more questions and demand to see the ugly truth (or what I call a birth certificate)? But she just kinda took his word for it. No questions asked, just more and more memories of Rex spilled for this stranger. Though I hate to see Bree get hurt in the end, it felt like we were finally seeing her grieve Rex – and hopefully she doesn’t let this Sam guy get too close and push away her own son.

Maybe Mom doesn't always love you best after all.

-- Gerrick D. Kennedy (Follow me on Twitter)

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Complete Show Tracker coverage of "Desperate Housewives"


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