We've been watching the latest TV import from the USA, Desperate Housewives. On the outside, it-never-rains suburban paradise; behind closed doors, dark deeds brewing. So far, we(terrestial viewers in the UK)'ve only seen the pilot and first instalments, but it is clearly shaping-up to be cult viewing; quirkily dark comedy (a la Twin Peaks), the unfolding events of her neighbours' lives narrated from beyond the grave by a woman who commits suicide in the pilot episode.
This is well-written, well-observed stuff. And the most striking thing isn't the 'big' secrets waiting to shatter the domestic idyll; but the 'banal' secrets that already have...Neighbours who would call each other friends and who share nothing of importance with each other for fear of being known. Four women each feeling desperately lonely, and each believing that none of her friends could understand. The irony that they are all in the same place, each thinking that the others have never been here; each choosing to accept the respectable front they all project, because that is easier than the alternative; each believing that the consequences of openness would be worse than the consequences of secrecy: Would any of my friends want to be my friends if they knew what I am really like? Would any of my friends stand by me if they knew what I was going through?
Secrecy - independence; going-it-alone - results in loneliness...not to mention the every-day-stuff of life, like dealing with the kids, just being so much harder. Openness results in friendships growing stronger (as I've written recently, the process may require sifting-through/cleaning-off mud, but it is worth it!)...not to mention the every-day-stuff being so much easier. That has certainly been our experience, most recently over last autumn when Jo was prescribed anti-depressants by our GP.
So, why do we (all) so often behave just like desperate housewives?