“Desperate Housewives” proves desperate enough with women kissing

ABC’s week-long preview of last night’s Desperate Housewives played like this: “We can tell you there will be scandal. We can tell you there will be jealousy. You know there will be lies. But there’s one shocker we can only hint at.” Only ABC is the worst “hint”-giver ever, because the teaser aired over the go-to hymn for straight girl smooching everywhere: Katy Perry‘s “I Kissed a Girl.”

It started like every other organic, long-term lesbian relationship on television: with liquor and a complete misunderstanding. Susan (Terri Hatcher) finds out from a student that she’ll be undergoing an evaluation by her new boss, Jessie (played by Pushing DaisiesSwoosie Kurtz). Instead of leaving her performance review to chance, Susan invites Jessie over for dinner. Over a lot of wine, Susan tells Jessie that she is smart, funny and adorable, and that anyone would be lucky to have her. Then there’s a hand on a knee:

Followed by a peck on the lips:

Followed by Susan making that super bemused face pulled by drunk persons the world over:

Later, Susan confesses to her friends that she’s confused about the kiss. Was it friendly or is Jessie actually into her? In order to clear up the confusion, Gabby (Eva Longoria Parker) kisses Susan — twice — to help her determine the nature of the lip-lock.

“Was it like this?” Gabby asks.

“Or like this?”

It was the second. The verdict: Jessie likes her, likes her.

The next day, right before school starts, Jessie asks Susan out, and Susan tells her she’s just not into women. Jessie is skeptical (“Mmm hmm. Nice boots.”), and then says that she was once like Susan herself. “You’re obviously worried there’s a lesbian inside you trying to get out,” she says.

“Um, actually, right now,” Susan answers, “I’m more worried about the lesbian outside of me trying to get in.”

The two then teach an awkward zoological lesson to Susan’s class. One of Susan’s students draws a gazelle, which Susan likes. Another draws a rhinoceros, which Susan claims to love.

Jessie: Do you, Susan? Do you really? I’m just asking: if you were on safari, and you saw a sleek gazelle next to a grungy, sweaty rhino, your eye wouldn’t go straight to the gazelle?

Susan: Though I would certainly appreciate the beauty of the gazelle, if I were going to go to Africa, I’d be more excited to see the rhino.

Jessie: Are you gonna tell me you’ve never had any experience with gazelles? Even in college?

Susan: No. And I was on the softball team.

Finally, the two work through their confusion and decide to remain friends even after the ratings stunt is over.

ABC hyped the episode hard, and both Eva Longoria Parker and Terri Hatcher teased the press with tidbits about their on-screen kiss. Surprisingly, though, it didn’t come off as tawdry. The episode was genuinely funny, especially the part about the rhinos, and the laughs came at the expense of the misunderstanding, not at lesbians themselves. In fact, Jessie’s story was really quite heartfelt.

I mean, if Terri Hatcher put her hand on your knee and your lips on her lips, wouldn’t you, too, find yourself a bit befuddled?