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The wisdom of daytime drama

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Having little to do these past couple weeks, what without homework and most of my friends either off to college or bogged down by the 7-hour schooldays of youth, I've been watching more television than I care to admit. It being daytime TV -- often considered the lowest feasible form of entertainment -- I'm all the more wary to disclose this information.

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The true source of shame is my epically awful choice of show. Call it a guilty pleasure, a last resort, or whatever else you will; it doesn't change the fact that my latest attempt at occupation is "Desperate Housewives."

Much to my dismay, a few of Jake's housemates led us astray into the world of "Desperate Housewives" last semester. Like most of its soap opera-esque counterparts, it's the sort of show you're helplessly drawn into, perhaps stemming from a universal taste for the dramatic that many disdain to admit.

Having grown up with "Days of Our Lives," I can still turn to channel 11 any given weekday at noon and know all the characters, their (many) exes and relations and half-relations, and take a disturbingly short amount of time to catch up on their happenings...even if I last tuned in years ago.

This is precisely what happened with "Desperate Housewives" when I, guilty only of the desperate boredom of a displaced college student, went channel surfing after the rest of my breed had returned to their respective universities.

While keeping Jake in-the-know of my daily undertaking, I've noticed my text messages taking a turn toward the grotesquely gossip-laden.

Take this example from last Tuesday: "The ugly blonde one tried to blackmail Bree about how she pretended her teenage daughter's baby was her own, so Bree told the other ladies and they marched across Wisteria Lake and ripped the ugly blonde head off and ate her brains with tea while discussing liposuction. Very graphic."

See what this show is doing to me? All the lines that should separate soap operas from zombie thrillers are forever blurred in my now-corrupt mind.

You'd think the only possible lessons to be learned from a show like this are how to mourn your second husband's death while planning a remarriage to your first, what to do when your adopted daughter burns herself with a curling iron to convince the child psychologist that you're abusive, and how to host the perfect dinner party with a lemon chiffon pie that'll have all the neighbors literally breaking into your recipe drawer.

Surprisingly enough, the truth is -- are you sitting down? -- even "Desperate Housewives" has a few words of wisdom to bestow upon its daytime viewing audience. They can be gleamed from the slow, saucy narration bookending the marriages, divorces, pregnancies, murders, attempted murders, cocaine bricks and impeccably coiffed hair that the rest of the show consists of.

While watching last week, I was aghast when the narrator stumbled across my favorite philosophy. "The trick is...," she began, pausing for dramatic effect, "...knowing which rules are made to be broken...," She then took a second intermission, which the sentence was not long enough to warrant, before concluding: "...and which are not."

Aha! A glimmer of intelligence strewn amidst a sea of fascination with other women's husbands, grocery store shootings, and attempts to do away with your blind lover's guide dog.

Although I'm more inclined to use this rule of thumb while deciding when it's okay to commit a grammar faux pas or to ignore silly laws about not tying my alligator to a lamp pole on a city street in Alabama, instead of contemplating whether or not to forgive my husband after finding out he attempted to murder my best friend's baby's daddy, but it's the same basic concept.

I'm glad to announce this small bit of decency in "Desperate Housewives," because little other good has come of it. While trying to help Mom with a pie the other day, I found I'm incapable even of decently peeling an apple, and, although many strange things are pardoned by the ladies of Wisteria Lane, that is indeed an unforgivable offense.

Call me desperate if you like, but chances are you'll never call asking me to cater your fifth wedding reception in three years. And that, however bored I may be, is perfectly fine by me.

Thressa Johnson graduated from Detroit Lakes High School and attends Hamline University in St. Paul.

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