It may be a strange thing to say about a suburb which is in many respects wholly unrealistic – its murder rate, for example, would put South Central Los Angeles to shame – Desperate Housewives’ Wisteria Lane illustrates some valuable points about business and its relationship with lifestyle that are insufficently mentioned in taught courses, but perhaps need more emphasis.
1 Business demands effort. Characters like Carlos and Lynette are shown working long hours, with predictable effects on their family life. Compare that with British soaps in which the characters seem to spend all their time in the local pub, despite having no visible means of support.
2 Business impacts on life – and vice versa. Carlos’s brilliant business career ended abruptly when he was struck blind. This meant that Gabrielle, his wife, became poor and dowdy – something even more distressing to contemplate than poor Carlos’s blindness. Of course, since a poor and dowdy Gabrielle goes against the natural order of things, Carlos’s eyesight and Gaby’s conspicuous consumption were soon restored to them, very conveniently, by a benevolent script-writer.
3 Business has a life cycle. Tom Scavo set up his dream business, a pizza restaurant. It flourished for a while, but, like most catering businesses, went into a decline and was closed after a few years. “Happy ever after” is only for the end of a movie, not for real life – or for an on-going television series.
4 Family and business rarely mix well. When Bree, out of pity, took on her unemployed husband Orson as a partner in her successful business, the damage to both her business and her marriage was all too predictable.
5 Friendship and business rarely mix well. There was clearly sensitivity about boundaries when Bree went into business with Katherine and when Carlos employed Lynette.
6 Keep the law out of it. The legal system is a blunt instrument when it comes to dealing with personal relationships. Domestic problems always escalate when the lawyers are brought in. The same is usually true of problems in business relationships.
Above all, Wisteria Lane has always understood that, like all affluent suburbs, its existence and prosperity depends on the existence and prosperity of viable businesses.