Ray Richmond is a contributor to AwardsLine.
It’s only June, but this has already been kind of a rough year for Marc Cherry. The wrongful termination suit filed against ABC Studios and ABC by Nicollette Sheridan ended in a mistrial on March 19. A retrial was scheduled to go forward beginning September 10, but has been temporarily stayed pending resolution of certain issues. In May, ABC passed on taking Cherry’s new hourlong pilot Devious Maids to series, the same week that his Desperate Housewives wrapped its run on the network after eight seasons. (Devious Maids has since been shopped to Lifetime.) Yet Cherry refused to be downbeat in a recent interview, reflecting on the wild ride that was Housewives.
AWARDSLINE: When you look back, what are you proudest of with regard to this show?
MARC CHERRY: Well, personally I’m just proud that I created something that helped me pay my bills because I was so flat broke. You know, I was borrowing money from my mother to stay afloat, and that was kind of uncomfortable. Professionally, I think just the fact that the show had a very original voice. I created a tone for network television that they hadn’t really been seen before. And I have to admit that was really more of an accident. I was just writing the way I write. I got the right director and the right cast, and the recipe just worked, and I was flattered and thrilled that people seemed to like it.
AWARDSLINE: Why is it that you think this show hit so big when it arrived in 2004?
CHERRY: Let’s start with the title. It promised something different from what people were seeing on other TV shows. And then when people tuned in, we delivered on the promise. We had something to say about the roles of wife and mother in today’s contemporary society. We were depicting situations that hadn’t previously been shown. And there was an element of boldness to it. I think we spoke to a whole lot of women out there who were frustrated.
AWARDSLINE: What were the challenges in keeping the show up and running so well for so long?
CHERRY: Well, each of the four characters had their own individual storyline. We had a mystery storyline. There was comedy and drama. I don’t think I could have created a more difficult show to run, quite frankly. And then we had this narrator who was trying to tie all of the stories together thematically. It was terrifically hard, and as you well know, I did some episodes better than others. I did some seasons better than others.
AWARDSLINE: In hindsight, was the five-year jump ahead in Season 5 a good idea?
CHERRY: Oh my God yes. That refreshed the show. I think that probably gave me an extra season.
AWARDSLINE: Are there any decisions you made that you don’t feel good and would have done differently if you’d had a second chance?
CHERRY: Oh my God, so many things. There are certain storylines I shouldn’t have done, there are certain actors I shouldn’t have cast – guest stars, I mean. There are certain flights of fancy I took that were best left on the ground. But I think most anyone who runs an hourlong TV show for any significant amount of time would say the same thing. We write them very quickly. We produce them very quickly. And if at the end of the day you can say, ‘Well, only a couple sucked,’ you know, pat yourself on the back a little bit.
AWARDSLINE: Some people think the show has gotten screwed at the Emmys. Do you think maybe it’s been too much of a hybrid for this crowd and suffered as a result?
CHERRY: Oh I think one of the difficulties with our show is, well, look at what will probably be nominated this year. If we’re a drama, we’re not exactly a show that should be in a category with Homeland. But we’re not exactly a show that should be in a category with Modern Family, either. We’re our own special thing. Did we suffer for that when it came to awards? Yeah I suppose probably. But it was also the thing that made us a hit, that we were such an interesting hybrid. So the Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away, I can’t bemoan too much.
AWARDSLINE: Can you address the trial situation?
CHERRY: Because it’s an ongoing legal matter, I don’t feel comfortable discussing it.
AWARDSLINE: Fair enough. But all in all, you’d say that Desperate Housewives turned out to be a positive experience for you?
CHERRY: It’s been rewarding and exhausting and I’m nothing but grateful for it. People ask me if it’s a bittersweet thing, and I say no, it’s all sweet. I got to have a TV show that really was the talk of the nation for a while there. So I’m a very lucky guy. Plus, I can pay my bills now.