Last night, as I watched one of my favourite characters in Desperate Housewives die a harrowing death in the arms of his fictitious wife, I felt rather more upset than I would like to admit. I may or may not have needed to look at the ceiling, blink rapidly and recite the alphabet backwards. Mike Delfino might have been the best looking hitman-turned-plumber-and-husband that TV had to offer, but my miniature grief was not simply due to a future where plumbing problems involve a real life bill rather than a fictional heart-throb. As a fan of Wisteria Lane’s residents ever since the first season, Mike has been a part of my life since I was just twelve years old.
Admittedly, his role has not been a huge one. Yes, I have spent more time watching him than I have ever spent with an actual hitman (or a plumber for that matter) but he only existed for an hour a week while each season aired. Sure, I followed his rollercoaster romance with Susan Mayer (Teri Hatcher) with a fair amount of interest, and may have reacted to their second wedding by leaping off the sofa with a celebration dance I now reserve for knowing a ‘pointless’ answer in the Pointless final. However, being reasonably sane, I never thought of Mike (James Denton) as much more than a two dimensional character – albeit a two dimensional character with some decidedly three dimensional muscles. If Mike had survived a few more episodes until the finale I wouldn’t have minded losing him from my TV screen at all. This is not just because Boyfriend cleverly bought me seasons one to six for Christmas last year, but because I would, in my slightly neurotic way, be able to imagine that after the cameras stopped rolling the rest of Mike’s life would be a kind of uneventful happily-ever-after.
Maybe if my daydream were taking place during an especially dull lecture or a football match I would imagine Mike and Susan growing old together on the lane. The drive-by shooting has deprived Mike of a future, and by doing so, deprived me of hours of procrastination imagining that future. Mike will never know what happens in the finale. He will never see his son have children of his own. He will never grow old with Susan. As hard as I stared at my TV screen hoping against hope that he was going to jump out of the coffin with the kind of excuse that is really quite plausible in Desperate Housewives, it looked as though Mike’s fictional body was not so much hot as, well, stone cold.
My problem is clearly that I invest too much in fictional characters, which perhaps explains why I am an English Literature Undergraduate who can quote Bridget Jones’s Diary more fully than Hamlet. Bridget may be a hopeless borderline-alcoholic rather than the star of one of the greatest works of art in the English language, but Hamlet really gets on my nerves. Shuffle a bit faster off this mortal coil if you’re so keen to go. Jesus. You can practically hear the eyeliner and emo hairstyle.
Mike may not have been as entertaining as Bridget or as erudite as Hamlet, but he was by all means a nice guy. And it is upsetting when a nice guy is shot to death on his front doorstep, even if he is fictional.
Now, if you excuse me, I need to go and man up. Someone pass me a wrench or a spanner or something.