I miss watching Desperate Housewives on Sunday nights. In the name of research & development, the 8-season, multiple-award-winning ABC show served as a muse for me in my field of studying female friendships and guiding women to healthy relationships. Nearly every episode showcased principles of friendship between the neighbors of Wisteria Lane. If not always by good example, than at least as a warning of how not to behave toward each other! Friendship was the glue that held the story lines together through divorces, kids, financial stress, job changes, health scares, alcoholism, and even a murder charge in the last season.
But the best friends who were willing to serve jail time for each other made a grievous mistake in their series finale last week. What they neglected to do made this week's Glee finale even sweeter when a couple of high-schoolers got it right.
The Desperate Housewives Mistake
At the end of the Desperate Housewives two-hour finale, the four BFFs are seen playing one more game of poker. It is during this game over the years that we have seen them frequently share their lives, catch up, gossip, and stay connected. This time with the news that Susan, and possibly Lynette, will be moving off the Lane, they talk about the impending changes with a hint of fear and sadness, but brush it off with a "no matter what happens, we'll still get together to play poker sometime!"
Then the narrator's voice informs the viewer that that there will be no future poker games. That was, indeed, their last.
The final moments provided a flash-forward of their separate lives, a "what became of them" montage of their future post-Wisteria Lane life. While I was thrilled to see the powerful roles they each stepped into, lives filled with pursuing the things that mattered to them, I was left with the ache of friendship investments that never benefited them after they moved away.
A friendship doesn't have to last forever. But, in this case, neither did it need to end due to moves. They could have continued to reap the benefits for years to come of the intimacy they fostered when they lived nearby.
And How Glee Got It Right
On Tuesday night's Glee finale, fans are left watching all their favorite high school students graduate from William McKinley High School. This graduation means that half the cast of New Directions, their national award-winning glee club, is moving on.
There are multiple promises made to always stay in touch. Lots of good intentions to cheer for each other wherever they each decide to go. And a fair share of hugs, goodbyes and tears.
But in one moment that could almost have been missed, we see how one high-school student gave what none of the housewives offered.
Quinn Fabray, a cheerleader who initially joined the glee club to keep an eye on her football quarterback boyfriend, walks into the bathroom where Rachel Berry, the star of the glee club who is now engaged to Quinn's ex, is touching up her makeup. Through the four seasons there has been plenty of drama between these two girls, but through singing together they have become friends. They comment on their friendship and how much they'll miss each other. It almost seems like a Desperate Housewives repeat about to happen.
And then in an act of genius, Quinn hands Rachel a train ticket. Smiling, she says "This is so you can come visit me at Yale next year. And I bought one for me so I can come see you in New York City, too."
In that one action they have ensured that their friendship doesn't turn into "used-to-be-friends." In that one tangible commitment they ensure that good intentions will transform to more good moments together. With one person being willing to go from words to logistics, they help their friendship transition into their new futures.
Their friendship will change. They won't have the benefit of seeing each other every day to help keep them connected. But just because it has to change, doesn't mean it has to end.
Rewriting Desperate Housewives
If I had been writing the Desperate Housewives ending, I would have added one more line to the script. Any one of the characters could have followed up the ambiguous hope of them all getting together for future poker games by saying, "Hey, let's all commit that no matter what happens in our lives we will get together one weekend a year for poker and friendship. I vote that we all mark our calendars one year from now for our next game."
Turning good intentions into action is what separates those of us who have long-term friendships from those who have former friends in various cities.
Here are two other blog posts about my own circle of friends who get together every year despite wherever we now live: My Annual GirlFriend Group: The Benefits of Long-term Friendships and Used-to-be-Friends or Still Friends?