- Mary Alice Young
Mary Alice Young Brenda Strong as Mary Alice Young. Desperate Housewives Portrayed by Brenda Strong
Sheryl Lee (unaired pilot)
First appearance Pilot (episode 1.01) Created by Marc Cherry Profile Aliases Angela Forrest (former married name)
Mary Alice Young (legal name)
Cause of death Suicide by gunshot wound to the head. Occupation Housewife
President of the Homeowners Association (until 2004)
Residence Salt Lake City in Utah State - until march 1990
4352 Wisteria Lane in Fairview, Eagle State - march 1990 until very beginning of season 1
Relationships Spouse(s) Paul Young (widower) Children Zach Young (adopted son)
Mary Alice Young (formerly Angela Forrest) is a fictional character on the ABC television series Desperate Housewives. The character is played by actress Brenda Strong and narrates the series from beyond the grave; the character's suicide in the pilot episode served as the catalyst of the series. The narration provided by Mary Alice is essential to the tale of Wisteria Lane, as the show revolves around her sharing the secrets of her friends and neighbors. Her narration technique is akin in style to Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology. She is the matriarch of Wisteria Lane and is the most important character to the show's development.
“ My name is Mary Alice Young. When you read this morning's paper, you may come across an article about the unusual day I had last week. Normally there's never anything newsworthy about my life. But that all changed last Thursday. Of course, everything seemed quite normal at first. I made breakfast for my family. I performed my chores. I completed my projects. I ran my errands. In truth, I spent the day as I spent every other day: quietly polishing the routine of my life until it gleamed with perfection. That's why it was so astonishing when I decided to go to my hallway closet and retrieve a revolver that had never been used. ”— Mary Alice Young
Mary Alice is the most mysterious of the housewives because only bits and pieces of her story are known. A loving, doting wife and mother who was generous to her family and neighbours, she was the last person any of them expected to commit suicide. She was born on November 18, 1965 and died on September 26, 2004. In death, Mary Alice sees things she would not have seen in life: her friends' vulnerabilities, lies and secrets. She doesn't judge them so much as love them more because of their foibles, pitying them for the ways they manipulate and hurt those they care about most. Although deceased since the first episode, Mary Alice continued to have a leading storyline throughout the first and second seasons of the show, with the story being led by her husband and son, Paul and Zach Young respectively.
In the first scene of the pilot episode, Mary Alice introduces herself. She then proceeds to go inside her house, reach for a gun, and shoot herself in the head.
After finding a blackmail note in Mary Alice's clothes, the leading women make a series of discoveries. She was being treated by Dr Goldfine; she once went by another name, Angela; and she may have had something to do with a baby that disappeared. Her son, Zach, begins to have flashbacks and is under the impression that he killed a baby named Dana, when he was younger. When Felicia Tilman comes to town and realizes she knew Mary Alice by her former identity, it's only a matter of time before the women learn just how much Mary Alice may have been hiding.
In the first season's finale, the mystery of Mary Alice's death is revealed. In March 1990, Mary Alice (whose real name is Angela) couldn't conceive and bought a baby illegally from a heroin addict, Deirdre. She then moved to Wisteria Lane with her husband and the baby to start a new life. In 1993, the Young family's beautiful, happy life on Wisteria Lane was nearly destroyed when the woman returned, seemingly sober, wanting her baby back. After a verbal fight, as Deirdre went to reclaim her baby, Mary Alice stabbed her and killed her. The child, originally named Dana and renamed Zach, woke up and saw the dead body. Mary Alice and Paul chopped up the body and buried it under their pool. Zach's father turned out to be Mike Delfino. Years later, when Mrs Huber discovered Mary Alice's secret via her sister, Felicia, who worked with "Angela", she blackmailed Mary Alice. In desperation, Mary Alice committed suicide.
Mary Alice was the first housewife to move to Wisteria Lane, fifteen years before the show's pilot episode (the day Mary Alice killed herself). In the second season finale, Mary Alice appeared in the episodes in various flash backs, describing how she met the major housewives. The first character she met was Susan. Mary Alice rescued Susan after she locked herself in her moving van. The second character she encountered was Bree, who came to the Youngs' house with Andrew and Rex in tow. She made Andrew apologize for stealing a garden ornamental frog.
She met Lynette several years later. Lynette and Tom were arguing over how Lynette was expecting twins and that it was completely okay for Lynette to punish Tom for not telling her that his family had eight sets of twins over three generations. Gabrielle was the final housewife to be greeted by the group. She and Carlos were only wearing underwear, as they had just had sexual intercourse, when Mary Alice, Susan, Lynette, and Bree walked in. She is also seen in a quick flashback with her son Zach and husband Paul sometime in the mid- 1990s where Zach tangles his shoe laces and where she is pouring water in the kitchen.
In "Bang", episode 7 of the third season, Lynette Scavo has a series of dreams about the last time she talked to Mary Alice, moments before she shot herself. Lynette tormented herself over not trying to save Mary Alice. After a hostage situation in which two people were killed and Lynette was injured, she had one final dream of Mary Alice. This time, however, Lynette tried to prevent something bad from happening by asking if she could help her. Mary Alice replied that she couldn't, but she could do something. She could enjoy the lovely day, as we get so few of them. Mary Alice, as the narrator, says, "This was the last time Lynette would dream of me, and for her sake, I am grateful."
Mary Alice was not a prominent part of this season, but she was seen on various occasions nonetheless. She was seen in a flashback on the second episode of the fourth season called Smiles of a Summer Night In a flashback of Susan’s about the day on which Katherine Mayfair abruptly left Wisteria Lane, Mary Alice Young and Susan walk up to Katherine’s house, questioning her about why there is a moving van outside her house. Katherine tells them that she got a job in Chicago and refuses to allow Julie to say goodbye to Dylan. A crashing noise is heard upstairs and Katherine has been nervous and evasive. When Susan asks if everything is OK Katherine makes her excuses and tells them she is really going to miss them, shutting the door.
It was mentioned that Mary Alice held the position of President of Wisteria Lane's homeowners' association, a position left vacant for four years (after her death) until Katherine Mayfair returned and insisted a new one (herself) be elected.
Mary Alice makes her second and last onscreen fourth season appearance in the finale called Free in a flashback to the night before Katherine left Wisteria Lane. Whilst Katherine and Lillian were out, Mary Alice was babysitting Dylan and revealed that Katherine's then husband, Wayne Davis, had arrived and given Dylan a toy doll and a tricycle. Having no idea that Katherine was running away from her abusive ex, Mary Alice apologizes for any wrong doing as Katherine rushes inside with her Aunt Lillian to check on Dylan.
Like the last two seasons, Mary Alice has no main storyline and she makes her only appearance in Episode 13. At Eli Scruggs' funeral, Mary Alice herself recalls how she changed Eli's life. She remembers how one morning before he had any steady work, he approached her and introduced himself. Initially commenting that she doesn't have any work for him, Mary Alice changes her mind when she notices Eli is wearing worn shoes and had obviously fallen on hard times. She asks him if he will fix a vase she broke. Eli appreciates her sympathy and initially declines but Mary Alice is insistent. A few years later, now that Eli has found steady work thanks to Mary Alice recommending him to the women of the neighbourhood, Eli walks in on Mary Alice reading a note. Mary Alice tries to be upbeat despite the fact that something is obviously troubling her, and offers Eli the vase that he fixed for her a few years ago. Eli accepts and leaves, worried about her fragile state but thinking it best to leave her alone. It is then revealed that the note Mary Alice was reading is the one she was blackmailed with and that day is the one that she killed herself. An ambulance arrives and the neighbourhood shows up in force to find out what happened to Mary Alice complete with Martha Huber (the blackmailer) gossiping with other women about Mary Alice's suicide. Eli watches from afar and regrets having done nothing to stop Mary Alice's suicide. From that day forward, he makes a vow to not only fix people's belongings but their lives as much as he can as well.
Mary Alice's role has decreased remarkably in this season as she does only make one appearance and does not appear in the finale. She also has no storyline. There is one episode in which she is not the narrator, thanks to the death of Edie Britt. Her role in this season is a lot like season three, when the same thing happened.
Once again Mary Alice is not part of a central storyline but continues to look over the neighborhood she left behind. Her old house is bought by the Bolen family. She makes one appearance in "Epiphany" where she brings Barbara, Eddie's mom, home from a bar when she left her son alone and scold her for bad parenting. At the end of the season finale, Mary Alice's husband, Paul, is released from jail and makes his epic return to Wisteria Lane.
Mary Alice's husband Paul Young returns to Wisteria Lane as a series regular this season, and brings with him his new wife Beth. Mary Alice is expected to be a stronger presence this season. Her old house was recently bought by her paroled husband. Her adopted son Zach also returned after it came to light that he shot Paul after the Wisteria Lane riot. Paul survives and discovers that Zach has wasted his fortune after developing a serious drug addiction. He blames Paul for the way his life turned out, as well as, Mary Alice's suicide. Soon enough though, Paul and Zach reconcile and he enters rehab. Paul's character would later have a change of heart and rekindles a friendship with Susan, after years of feuding. In the season's end, Paul is held hostage by Felicia Tilman, who has returned to again seek revenge on Paul. When Felieca demands a confession from Paul over killing Martha, he indeed confesses but declares he is not sorry as Martha caused Mary Alice's suicide. Susan later saves Paul, and after Felicia flees she is killed in a car accident. Though free, Paul finally confesses to killing Martha and is last seen being taken away by the police.
Mary Alice will be a stronger presence this year in flashacks that will reveal new information about her family before her death. The first of this occurs in episode two, where it is revealed that Mary Alice wanted to call her friends (after she received the note) but chose not to.
Brenda Strong says she's already started shooting — specifically a scene returning to the day her character committed suicide. Another possible upcoming story line, Strong says, is an episode examining what would have happened if she hadn't taken her life. Brenda has also stated that the middle episode (Which Usually pays home to the "Disaster Episode") will see four flashbacks, each showing Mary Alice Young having a heart to heart with each housewife and them both expressing their gratitude to her and stating "What would we do without you"
Despite being deceased, Mary Alice's voice has been heard in nearly every episode of the series; however, Rex Van de Kamp (played by Steven Culp) narrated the sixteenth episode of season three, "My Husband, the Pig" (though Mary Alice still provided narration for the opening "previously on Desperate Housewives" montage), and Edie Britt (played by Nicollette Sheridan) narrated the nineteenth episode of season five, "Look Into Their Eyes and You See What They Know". That episode had no "previously" montage, and is the first in the series, so far, where Mary Alice is not seen or heard at all.
In addition to this, she has appeared in person in several episodes. Besides "Pilot" (1.01), where she commits suicide, she has appeared in flashbacks and dream sequences in episodes: "Pretty Little Picture" (1.03), "Guilty" (1.08), "The Ladies Who Lunch" (1.16), "One Wonderful Day" (1.23), "There Is No Other Way" (2.16), "Remember" (2.23 and 2.24), "Bang" (3.07), "Smiles of a Summer Night" (4.02), "Free" (4.17), "The Best Thing That Ever Could Have Happened" (5.13), "Epiphany" (6.20), "Remember Paul?" (7.01) and "Making the Connection" (8.02).
Even though she doesn't appear in "Searching", a strong presence is felt when Paul's estranged new wife Beth shoots herself in the head with Mary Alice's gun in the hospital after making sure Susan gets her kidney, Each shot leading up to when Beth pulls the trigger, matches Mary Alice killing herself - i.e. a shot that moves 90 degrees to the right, then a closeup of her face, then one of the gun, and then a shot of a reflective surface where you can see her body fall to the ground.
- ^ Brenda Strong promises 'Desperate Housewives' flashbacks, digital spy, July 26, 2011
- ^ Desperate Housewives Brenda Strong on Mary Alice's Last Hurrah, Moving to Dallas, TV Guide, August 14, 2011
Desperate Housewives Characters
Betty Applewhite · Angie Bolen · Edie Britt · Mike Delfino · Susan Delfino · Orson Hodge · Bob Hunter · Katherine Mayfair · Karen McCluskey · Lee McDermott · Renee Perry · Lynette Scavo · Tom Scavo · Carlos Solis · Gabrielle Solis · Andrew Van de Kamp · Bree Van de Kamp · Mary Alice Young · Paul YoungAcquaintances of: Susan Mayer · Lynette Scavo · Bree Van de Kamp · Gabrielle Solis · Other characters
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