LOS ANGELES, Oct. 22 – Two years ago, Marc Cherry was a 40-year-old television writer who felt his career was rapidly sliding downhill. His script, “Desperate Housewives,” had been sent to every broadcast and cable network as a black comedy and was rejected by all of them. His agent was arrested for embezzlement and went to jail. — Bernard Weinraub
“I was devastated,” Mr. Cherry said. “I needed new representation and I went to this agency, Paradigm[‘pærədaɪm]. They read the script and loved it and said: ‘No, no — no one knows what to do with a black comedy. Let’s make a few changes and call it a soap.”‘
Within days, Susan Lyne and Lloyd Braun, both top ABC executives at the time, bought the unusual comedic script about the secret lives of women in a suburb that seems ideal but is simmering[‘sɪmərɪŋ], of course, with sex and mystery. “Desperate Housewives,” with its frisky plot and gorgeous actors and actresses, has now turned into not only the No. 1 new series on television but also a breakthrough hit for ABC, which has been in last place among the big four networks for a long time. The opening of the show, on Oct. 3, pulled in more than 21 million viewers, and the series has come close to maintaining that audience since.
simmering：To be filled with pent-up emotion or in a state of mild agitation or turmoil. （频临崩溃的）
Steve McPherson, president of ABC Entertainment, said of the series: “It’s a point of view that’s not on the air. It’s incredibly fresh writing.” Mr. McPherson and other television executives said that the abundance of crime dramas saturating television — the “Law and Order” and “CSI” shows — made the offbeat[ˌɒf’biːt] “Desperate Housewives” especially appealing. “There’s nothing like it on television or cable,” said Mr. McPherson, who was previously president of Touchstone Television, which produces the series.
offbeat：unusual and strange and therefore surprising or noticeable. （另类的、反常的）
Mr. Cherry put it another way. “In the old days if someone had a hit western, other people came up with their own western — now they don’t even change the show,” he said, adding, “The audience is really thirsting for something new.”
“Desperate Housewives” tells the stories of a group of women on Wisteria Lane whose suburban lives are filled with drama, hanky-panky[ˌhæŋki’pæŋki] and frustration. One of the women, Susan (Teri Hatcher), who works at home, will go to any length to snare [sneə(r)] a handsome plumber who is something of a man of mystery. She’s vying with Edie (Nicollette Sheridan), who is, in nighttime soap-opera tradition, a tramp. There’s Lynette (Felicity Huffman), who gave up a high-powered job to raise four monstrous children. There’s Bree (Marcia Cross), who has turned into a terrifying control freak and whose husband wants a divorce. And there’s Gabrielle (Eva Longoria), who married a rich businessman but feels ignored and is getting even by spending too much time with the 17-year-old gardener. (The show’s raciness[‘reɪsɪnɪs] has led several advertisers to pull out, but they were quickly replaced.)
hanky-panky：unacceptable or dishonest behaviour, especially involving sexual activity or money. （尔虞我诈的行为）
snare：to win or get something by skillful action or good luck. （谋得、诱惑）
raciness：the quality of being exciting and slightly shocking, especially because of relating to or suggesting sex. （重口味的）
“Desperate Housewives” was written out of frustration. “The sitcom market had dried up,” said Mr. Cherry, whose previous major credit was executive producer and writer on “The Golden Girls.” “I didn’t have anyone interested in me. At the time I was 40. I’m 42 now. I was determined to show people I know how to write.”
Interviewed at his office, Mr. Cherry recalled sitting with his mother at her home in Orange County watching the news coverage of the 2002 trial of Andrea Yates, who was found guilty of drowning her five children in a bathtub.
“I was horrified by this,” Mr. Cherry said. “I turned to her and said, ‘Gosh, can you imagine a woman so desperate that she would hurt her own children?’ My mother took her cigarette out of her mouth and said, ‘I’ve been there.’ I said, ‘What?’ You have to understand I’ve always seen my mom as the perfect wife and mother, a woman who aspired to being a homemaker. That’s what she wanted and that was her life. And it was shocking to find out that she indeed had moments of great desperation when my sisters and I were little and my dad was off getting a master’s degree in Oklahoma and she was alone with three kids, 5, 4 and 3, who were just bouncing off the walls, and she was starting to lose it. She started telling me these stories. And I realized if my mother had moments like this, every woman who is in the suburban jungle has. And that’s where I got the idea to write about four housewives.”
aspire to do sth：to have a strong wish or hope to do or have something;
Bounce off the walls：to be too excited and have a lot of energy.
Martha Cherry, the writer’s mother, said over the telephone from her home in Brea, Calif., that her son’s show had struck a nerve with her friends and neighbors. “It’s fictitious[fɪk’tɪʃəs], but closer to reality than most of the reality shows,” Mrs. Cherry said. The show is successful, in her view, because it “takes real-life things and deals with them in a lighthearted way.”
had struck a nerve：To evoke a strong emotional reaction, such as anger, sadness, or disgust, upon being encountered, heard, read, etc.
Mrs. Cherry said that the character she and many of her friends most identify with is the one played by Ms. Huffman, who barely copes with her children. “It’s so exasperating[ɪɡ’zæspəreɪtɪŋ],” Mrs. Cherry said. “How do you punish them? You can’t keep spanking them. I tried sending my kids, including Marc, to their room. But they had televisions and CD’s in there. They were enjoying themselves. They didn’t want to come out.” She added that she was “beyond proud” of her son.
exasperating：intensely irritating and frustrating.
Mr. Cherry, a bachelor who lives in a condo in Studio City, attributedthe strong response to the show, especially among women, to his taking soap opera back to its roots. “It’s like the old days of women sitting around the kitchen table with a cup of coffee listening to the radio,” he said. “We’ve put, hopefully, a new tonality[təʊ’næləti], a new twist to the genre, a little dark, a little funny, all mixed together.”
attributed sth to sb/sth: to say or think that something is the result or work of something or someone else. （把……归因于；认为是…所为）
take sth back to its roots：it depicts a person or thing returning to the start, from the beginning where it/he/she came from. （将某人或某物带到其最初的落脚点）
Mr. Cherry has what he calls a “muddled” background.” Because his father was in the oil business, he grew up in Oklahoma, Hong Kong, Iran and Orange County. He studied musical theater and hoped to be a Broadway singer, but being more the cherub[‘tʃerəb] than the leading man type, he realized he had few prospects. “I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life playing Nicely-Nicely in ‘Guys and Dolls,”‘ he said.
cherub：an angel that is represented in art as a beautiful, fat, naked child with small wings. 这里使用隐喻的手法，将“长着小翅膀的胖小子”比作“想要飞却飞不高的那种心比天高、命比纸簿”的失意男。
Guys and Dolls：a 1955 American musical film starring Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, Frank Sinatra, and Vivian Blaine. （1995年马龙·白兰度、弗兰克·辛纳特拉主演的音乐剧，其中有一个名为斯塔比·凯耶的胖子扮演Nicely-Nicely Johnson，饰演主要配角，编剧马克.切利用此人作为映射聊以自嘲。）
He began writing for television in the late 1980’s. Producers from “The Golden Girls” signed him up for the final two seasons of that show. He also served as creator and executive producer on the 1994 comedy series “The Five Mrs. Buchanans.”
Mr. Cherry said he grew up admiring series starring Mary Tyler Moore, Lucille Ball, Marlo Thomas and Bea Arthur. In some ways, he said, these “desperate housewives” are their daughters.
“I call it a post-post-feminist take,” he said. “The women’s movement said, ‘Let’s get the gals out working.’ Next the women realized you can’t have it all. Most of the time you have to make a choice. What I’m doing is having women make the choice to live in the suburbs, but things aren’t going well at all.”
One of the housewives, Ms. Longoria, who plays a former model living with an indifferent husband and sleeping with the teenage gardener, said in a telephone interview that she didn’t realize the impact of the show until the cast appeared on “Oprah” recently and numerous members of the audience told them, “This was me.” Ms. Longoria, who began her career as a soap opera actress, said: “These women all related to the show. Marc hit the nail on the head.” She acknowledged that the women’s lives on the show are hardly realistic. “It’s exaggerated,” she said. “When you put these women in heightened[ˈhaɪt(ə)nd] situations it’s funny, it’s dark, it’s mysterious. That’s what makes good television. Normal lives wouldn’t be any fun.”
hit the nail on the head：to describe exactly what is causing a situation or problem. （切中了……要害；做了恰如其分的事情）
绝望的主妇里的一名成员：朗格利亚女士，她在剧中扮演一名前模特，与对她冷漠无视的丈夫一起生活，并且出轨了她家尚未成年的园丁。她在电话采访里说道：她并没有意识到这部剧所产生的影响，直到最近剧组成员被邀请进奥普拉脱口秀节目，当时现场的观众有很多人告诉剧组说“剧中的人物简直就是她们生活的翻版。” 朗格利亚最近开始成为一名肥皂部女演员，她说：“这些女人们对这部剧产生了共鸣，马克.切利直击要害。” 她承认：剧中的主妇都是经过虚构和夸大的，如果你将这些女人们置放到一个高光区，这会非常有趣、黑暗和神秘，这些正好构成了一部好剧。正常的生活就没什么趣味可言了。
Although reviews for the shows have been positive, there have been criticisms that the series is hardly feminist because most of the women on it seem to need men to define themselves. “This show is actually a love letter to all the women out there who have issues and are trying their best to be stay-at-home moms,” Mr. Cherry said. “They are smart gals.” He laughed. “Besides, what I hear from everybody is that this show is a guilty pleasure.”