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July 25, 2014

TV Moment of 2009: Edie's Shocking Death on 'Desperate Housewives'

by Gary Susman, posted Dec 25th 2009 10:00AM
The sudden death of 'Desperate Housewives'' Edie Britt, a fixture on the show since day one, was indeed a shocker, but only in the most literal sense, since she died of electrocution, In other ways, it wasn't shocking at all, since the slutty realtor's impending demise had been confirmed weeks before in the entertainment press.

Given the longstanding reports of tension between Nicollette Sheridan and 'Housewives' creator Marc Cherry, her abrupt departure was not a surprise. In a way, however, it was fitting, as the backstage drama matched the on-screen drama, with Sheridan the locus of whispered gossip, just like her character. As Edie herself put it, in a patented 'Housewives' post-death omniscient voiceover, she died as she'd lived, as the the town's pleasure center.The sudden death of 'Desperate Housewives'' Edie Britt, a fixture on the show since day one, was indeed a shocker, but only in the most literal sense, since she died of electrocution, In other ways, it wasn't shocking at all, since the slutty realtor's impending demise had been confirmed weeks before in the entertainment press.

Given the longstanding reports of tension between Nicollette Sheridan and 'Housewives' creator Marc Cherry, her abrupt departure was not a surprise. In a way, however, it was fitting, as the backstage drama matched the on-screen drama, with Sheridan the locus of whispered gossip, just like her character. As Edie herself put it, in a patented 'Housewives' post-death omniscient voiceover, she died as she'd lived, as the the town's pleasure center.

It wasn't the first time the show had killed off Edie. In an earlier cliffhanger, she'd apparently hanged herself from a rafter, despondent after Carlos left her to return to Gaby. Actually, the hanging was just an ill-timed ploy to get Carlos' attention and sympathy, and after it failed, the humiliated Edie picked herself up and kept going.

This time however, her death was for real, though she cheated the reaper a couple more times before buying the farm. On the March 22 episode, 'A Spark, to Pierce the Dark,' Edie revealed to her creepy new husband Dave that she knew about his lethal revenge plot against Mike Delfino. Dave responded by nearly strangling her to death with his bare hands. Edie fled the house and drove off, only to nearly mow down Orson. (Bree's kleptomaniac husband was also fleeing a deadly pursuer, a bat-wielding old lady whose house he'd been burglarizing.) Edie swerved to avoid Orson and slammed into a utility pole. The crash didn't kill her, but a severed power line did when she got out of the car. Even then, the last we saw was a twitching finger, hinting that she might have survived.

Edie's Final Moments on 'Desperate Housewives'


Viewers had to wait nearly a month for the next episode, which confirmed Edie's death. Like Mary Alice and Rex before her, Edie had earned the privilege of an ironic post-mortem voiceover. She got to narrate her own funeral episode, during which the remaining ladies of Wisteria Lane finally paid her a proper tribute, with each remembering how, with her all-fun, no-pretense attitude, she'd steamrollered each of them out of a funk at a time of crisis.

It's too bad we rarely got to see the take-charge Edie her neighbors belatedly remembered. Indeed, Edie was the most underused of the major characters, never granted the status of full-fledged Housewife or displayed in the opening credits. One reason, according to longstanding rumors, was tension between Sheridan and others on the set, particularly Marc Cherry. After Edie's death, both spoke to TV Guide and did little to dispel those rumors. Complaining about Cherry not deploying her enough, she told the magazine, "When you have a jewel, why not polish it and put it out there for all to see?"

For his part, Cherry indicated that ABC had ordered him to trim the show's budget, and that Edie's character had done all she could do on Wisteria Lane. Ordered to cut one major character, Cherry recalled, he asked himself, "What characters do I need to go forward? Edie's already slept with most of the guys on the street and has caused about as many problems as she could."

Still, Edie's sendoff, once confirmed, seemed less than she deserved, as a mainstay of the show for five years. Instead, it appeared as if she had been killed off just so that Dave and Orson could keep their shamful secrets a little while longer. But the death did get people talking. At long last, Edie was the center of attention she'd always longed to be, and so was Sheridan.

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