Ask Teri Hatcher to select her favorite moment from eight seasons of "Desperate Housewives," and she'll most likely reminisce about the time she bared it all.
"There was a new wardrobe girl and at 6 in the morning she came over to me, introduced herself and said, 'Can we please take some gaffer's tape and cover your nipples and crotch?'" said Hatcher of the Season 1 episode in which her character, Susan, locked herself out of the house without a stitch of clothing.
As "Housewives" heads toward its May 13 finale with three new episodes beginning Sunday, it's been making more headlines for ugly lawsuits than steamy scenes. Give the show credit, though, for showing an honest depiction of the challenges of creeping into middle age without losing one's job, sex drive or sanity.
Those kind of grown-up conversations were welcomed by women who couldn't relate to the Cosmo-slugging, shoe-shopping gals of "Sex and the City," which had ended its TV run about eight months before "Housewives" premiered, said Leah Wilson, a Dallas-based editor of a collection of essays called "Welcome to Wisteria Lane: On America's Favorite Desperate Housewives."
"It's so infrequent to hear women talk on a day-to-day basis about the bad parts of motherhood," Wilson said. "That grounded the show in its first season, that sense that you're not good enough. They look like perfect mothers, but that's never how it feels."
Once the top-rated show among women ages 18 to 49, "Housewives" also struck a chord because of its setting, Wilson said. Before its success, Hollywood thought the suburbs were too dull, unless the neighborhood was populated with Stepford wives. Today, shows like "Suburgatory," "The Cleveland Show" and "Weeds" embrace the outskirts.
"All of sudden, the suburbs were exciting in a good way," Wilson said. "Instead of finding out the residents are secretly robots, you find out they are human."
It didn't take long for "Housewives" to become a sensation, attracting nearly 25 million viewers a week and inspiring screening parties, celebrity impersonators and a bevy of reality shows. It also redefined ABC as the place to go for female-driven drama.
All good things come to an end, and the good stuff for "Desperate" dried up years ago. The heart of the show got buried under one melodramatic stunt after another - a mysterious man locked in the basement, a plane crash, a grocery-store shootout, a tornado.
The series, once ranked No. 4 in Nielsen ratings, sank last season to No. 26. But "Housewives" should get some extra love in these final three episodes, which promise to circle back to the show's finest hour: The very first one.
Cherry and his writers watched the pilot before writing this season, aiming to evoke the original spirit of the show.
For the cast and fans, it should be an interesting, emotional goodbye.
"Everyone gets to go, 'You were great. We're really going to miss you. I'm sorry you're dying,'" said Felicity Huffman, who portrays Lynette on the series. "All you can do is go, 'Thanks. I really had a great time.'"