Movies & TV Shows

20 Best Shows Like Desperate Housewives

Some shows are hard to define. In a way, Desperate Housewives has it all: adultery, blackmail, shocking deaths, plot twists, and every kind of dysfunctional relationship imaginable. Fans of it loved the gorgeous style of the series and the main characters, as well as the shocking secrets in this perfect suburban world. It’s no wonder that fans are looking for shows like Desperate Housewives, especially since there are often news stories about a reboot but nothing is in the works.

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The series is available to stream, but fans may choose to forgo another rewatch in favor of checking out something. When looking for shows similar to Desperate Housewives, these picks offer enough romance, scandal, and drama to entertain even the most devout fans of Desperate Housewives.

Updated on October 27, 2022 by Aya Tsintziras:

Fans still love watching old episodes of Desperate Housewives, and there will always be passionate interest in the women who reside on Wisteria Lane. There are many great series like Desperate Housewives that are full of dramatic storylines focusing on families, romance, and the things that people hide from each other, even when they claim to be good friends who talk about absolutely everything.

Big Little Lies (2017-2019)

Stream on HBO Max

With an A-list cast that includes Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, and even Meryl Streep, it’s no wonder Big Little Lies has become one of HBO’s biggest shows, raking in the award nominations and wins.

Based on the bestselling novel of the same name, the series follows a group of moms who get entangled in a murder investigation. Just like Desperate Housewives, Big Little Lies is full of sex, drama, and murder, with great leading ladies at the center.

Bridgerton (2020-Present)

Stream on Netflix

Netflix’s Bridgerton is a hit period piece that employs the female gaze and tells a love story from a young woman’s point of view. Those who enjoy the abundance of female protagonists in Desperate Housewives will likely love Bridgerton.

This series offers up a ton of drama in the form of developing romances and hidden family secrets in upper-class Regency-era English families, and has a similarly gorgeous style, too.

Dead To Me (2019-Present)

Stream on Netflix

Another Netflix series, Dead To Me centers on two strangers who meet in a grief support group and quickly bond over the dramatics of their peers and their shared loss. However, the show quickly takes a turn when it’s revealed that Judy isn’t mourning the loss of her boyfriend and instead is the hit-and-run driver who killed Jen’s husband.

Though dramatic with tons of plot twists, the show is also downright hilarious as these two less-than-perfect women bond and seek revenge, making it perfect for fans of Desperate Housewives.

Devious Maids (2013-2016)

Stream on Hulu

Despite airing in the year immediately after Desperate Housewives and following a similar tone, Devious Maids never picked up quite like Desperate Housewives.

Set in luxurious Beverly Hills, the series centered on the housekeepers of wealthy families who bond over their struggles, dreams for a better life, and dramatic and juicy secrets their rich employers are keeping. With sex, murder, and lies a core aspect of the plot, Devious Maids is the perfect show to binge.

Good Girls (2018-2021)

Stream on Netflix

Fans of NBC’s Good Girls were heartbroken when the series was canceled on some major cliffhangers, and yet the show is still a great option for fans of Desperate Housewives.

After finding themselves financially unstable, two sisters and their best friend decide to rob a local grocery store to get the cash they need to get ahead. It’s an easy job until they discover that the money they stole belonged to a gang whom they now must work for to pay off their debts. There are so many twists and turns in this female-led series that it’ll remind any viewer of Desperate Housewives.

Gossip Girl (2007-2012)

Stream on HBO Max

Like Desperate Housewives, Gossip Girl features women at the center of all sorts of scandals. Like the housewives, the main characters of Gossip Girl know how to get messy.

Things these “best friends” have done to each other include stealing phones, cheating, sleeping with each other’s significant other(s), blackmail, and bullying, just to name a few. Also, Gabrielle would definitely approve of the fashion. With six seasons streaming on HBO Max, and a reboot available as well, check out Gossip Girl.

Grey’s Anatomy (2005-Present)

Stream on Netflix and Hulu

Like Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy is a product of the 2000s. As such, it has a distinctive vibe that will feel familiar to Housewives fans. However, where Housewives ended its run soon after the turn of the decade, Grey’s kept on.

The latter is still going and hasn’t yet shown any signs of slowing down. For fans looking for something to occupy them for the long run, it’s a smart idea to consider investing time in Grey’s Anatomy, one of the most popular medical dramas of all time.

Killing Eve (2018-Present)

Stream on Hulu

Killing Eve, starring Sandra Oh (who also starred as Cristina Yang on Grey’s Anatomy), shares something of the general tone and black comedy of Desperate Housewives. Like Housewives, Killing Eve involves a lot of murder and danger, but does so with a wry sense of humor about it all.

The series offers two interesting, multifaceted female protagonists, as fans debate if Eve and Villanelle are meant to be on Killing Eve. Oh’s Eve becomes obsessed with tracking down assassin Villanelle, played by Jodie Comer, and the two develop feelings that complicate their dynamic along the way.

One Tree Hill (2003-2012)

Stream on Hulu

If the family dynamics and drama are the appeals of Desperate Housewives, check out One Tree Hill. This series follows two teenage half-brothers and the people in their lives. Nathan and Lucas hate each other, but share a father, and said father causes all kinds of trouble for basically everyone in their small town.

A lot of the plot deals with the boys and their mothers, telling stories about these dynamics from the sons’ point of view, something of a reversal of how these dynamics are explored on Housewives (think Bree and Andrew).

Ozark (2017-Present)

​​​​Stream on Netflix

Adultery is a common theme in both Desperate Housewives and the Netflix original drama series Ozark. As Housewives fans know, two out of the four main housewives were unfaithful to their husbands at one point or another, and everyone but Lynette knew what it was like to be cheated on. The family drama in Ozark begins when Marty finds proof that his wife has been having an affair.

They have to stay together for the sake of their family’s safety, so they eventually work things out, but there’s a good deal of drama in the meantime. The series centers on the trouble they get into when Marty takes a job laundering money for a drug cartel, and his wife and kids get involved.

Pretty Little Liars (2010-2017)

Stream on HBO Max

The memorable Pretty Little Liars may be one of the few series in existence that can boast more instances of blackmail than Desperate Housewives, which, fans will know, is really saying something.

Just as the plot of Housewives kicks off with Mary Alice’s suicide after she finds out she’s being blackmailed, PLL‘s story kicks off with an anonymous text from “A,” who apparently knows all the friends’ secrets in the wake of the supposed death of their friend Alison. Another way that the girls of PLL are like the housewives is their penchant for failed romance, as many PLL relationships are doomed.

Scream Queens (2015-2016)

Stream on Hulu

Fans who love the murder mystery element of Desperate Housewives will probably like Scream Queens. This show, which only ran for two seasons, is all about a series of murders that the main characters try to both avoid and solve.

Season 1 takes place at a college campus, as a sorority house with a dark history is plagued by grisly murders. Season 2 has the characters working in a learning hospital, where yet another murderer is on the loose.

The Americans (2013-2018)

Stream on Hulu and Prime Video

FX’s The Americans focuses a lot on the marriage between Philip and Elizabeth, the two main characters. It’s also a full-on, high-brow espionage drama about the Cold War. The Americans has six great seasons, but Desperate Housewives fans will likely enjoy the relationship drama, danger, and intrigue.

Another thing The Americans has in common with Desperate Housewives is the setting: both series take place largely in the suburbs despite nothing mundane happening.

Weeds (2005-2012)

Stream on Hulu

After finding herself widowed and in an unexpected amount of debt, Nancy Botwin turns her backyard into a marijuana-growing operation to support her family. As the business grows, Nancy pulls more people into her scheme while trying to keep her backyard business a secret from her uptight suburban town.

Just like Desperate Housewives, Weeds centers its drama on a less-than-perfect female lead who isn’t afraid to make mistakes for the sake of drama and plot twists.

You (2018-Present)

Stream on Netflix

There’s no shortage of stalking on Desperate Housewives, nor is there on the Netflix original series You, starring Penn Badgley, who also starred as Dan Humphrey in Gossip Girl.

You centers on serial stalker and murder Joe, who sees himself as the romantic hero in his twisted story. He preys on women obsessively, and when he feels they inevitably let him down in some way, he kills them. There’s a whole lot of murder and romance in this surprisingly fun series.

Manifest (2018-present)

Stream on Netflix

Manifest is very different from the general concept of Desperate Housewives because it doesn’t focus on a group of friends who live in the same place or the daily lives of wealthy people who hide things. But the TV drama will still work for fans as it focuses on characters who are slowly learning the truth about what happened when their plane crashed.

Both Manifest and Desperate Housewives are super dramatic and have well-drawn characters who viewers grow attached to after just a few episodes. They are both just asking to be binge-watched, as they have fast paces.

A Million Little Things (2018-present)

Stream on Hulu

A Million Little Things has a similar premise to Desperate Housewives, as both shows are about a group of characters who grieve the death of one of their friends. A Million Little Things began airing in 2018 and there have been four seasons so far.

There is a lot of plot in this show, but the episodes do focus on the friendships and the romantic lives of the main characters. There are secrets that they don’t know about each other and everything comes to the forefront.

Better Things (2016-2022)

Stream on Hulu and Prime Video

Better Things follows a single parent, Samantha Fox, who is doing a great job raising two daughters in her honest, real, and funny way, although she feels a lot of intense pressure all the time. Sam used to be a famous actor, and although she still works steadily, she doesn’t have the attention and money that she once did.

Both Better Things and Desperate Housewives are funny but serious, as Sam dates, thinks about her divorce, helps her ailing mom, and tries her best to steer her children through the pains of growing up.

The O.C. (2003-2007)

Stream on Hulu and Prime Video

Like Desperate Housewives, The O.C. tells the story of well-off characters in a beautiful area. Marissa Cooper and Summer Roberts have been best friends for a long time and when Ryan Atwood begins living with the Cohens, everyone comes together, becomes close, and changes each other’s lives. The O.C. still holds up.

Fans love the funny and nostalgic storylines of The O.C. along with the teenage and adult characters alike. Watching Summer and Seth Cohen fall in love will always seem sweet, and Ryan’s journey is also compelling.

Why Women Kill (2019-2021)

Stream on Paramount+

There are many questions remaining after the Why Women Kill season 2 finale, which proves that the show will appeal to fans of Desperate Housewives, as both are juicy and full of episodes with a quick pace.

Also created by Marc Cherry, the series focuses on women who are in terrible and painful marriages. The hook is that all three women have resided in the exact same house and they each plot to do something about the situations that they are in.

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