Princeton NJ , Usa, July 16 2013
Millions of people around the world are familiar with the name ” Wisteria lane”: they are the -often addict- viewers of the most famous TV series ” Desperate Housewives” , displayed in more than 35 countries in all parts of the world in the 2000’s.
Wisteria Lane is the imaginary name of the typical American suburban upper middle class lane where the action of the series takes place, and the series depicts the everyday life of 4 women and their families, around plots which are certainly overstreched but allow the editor to show 4 types of personnalities in which everyone can recognizes part of one self: a sweet polyannah (Suzanne) a bossy organizer ( Lynette) and a control freak ( Bree) and an egoistic bitch ( Gabrielle).
The universal success of the series , according to media pundits, is due to the fact that Wisteria Lane and its 4 main characters represent the average way of life of successful people in the developed world and the universal aspiration to happiness of zillions of people in poor countries. It is the quintessential ” American way of life” admired, envied or loathed throughout the world, depending on your ideology.
Well, I am here in one of these typical American Wisteria lane in the suburbs of Princeton NJ. Comfortable houses on 1 acre pieces of land with no fences, well tended gardens, two powerful shinny cars on each driveway, ” desperate” or not so desperate housewives or “soccer moms” chatting and gossiping with each other in their gardens, nice neighborhood relationships, husbands commuting to their jobs, kids going to school on their bikes. But behind the facade of material happiness, how many dark secrets, dramatic health issues, financial problems, jobs lost, unpaid mortgages? The reality is that beyond the smooth appearances, life is often a series of scourges that plague our happiness: I wish I could enter in each of these houses as a psychiatrist, as a financial counselor, as a minister, as a coach, and hear the reality of all these lives.
The American Declaration of Independence of 1776 put the “Pursuit of Happiness” as an “unalienable right” of the new American Democracy, right after “Life” and “Liberty”. It probably meant , in the mind of the framers of the Declaration , “material happiness”, since obviously happiness is a very relative, unmeasurable, highly fragile and individual notion.
Regardless, having a look around in this all American Wisteria Lane here in Princeton, there is no doubt that the objective material conditions of happiness are present here. And the zillions of fans of the TV series which, like “Desperate Housewives “, promote that way of life, condone that opinion.
Just as others millions of zealots will preach in favour of other ways of life. Fine, as long as no one pretends to impose anything on anyone….