Character Spotlight: Karen McCluskey

by Beal

Karen McCluskey (Kathryn Joosten)Show: Desperate Housewives

Character: Karen McCluskey

Actor: Kathryn Joosten

In a NUT shell: Karen McCluskey is about the least complex character on all of Wisteria Lane. She’s so two dimensional, that I couldn’t NOT love her. Widowed and a bit zany, she babysits neighborhood kids, drinks a little too much, fails to mind her business, owns a couple of cats, spouts wacky one-liners, occasionally attempts to solve mysteries and OH YEA, kept her dead husband in her basement deep freeze. Every once in awhile, we get to see the softer side of Mrs. McCluskey, when her BFF dies in the tornado, when the Scavo boys come to apologize and we learn that she lost a son many years ago or when her boozing partner in crime, Edie’s, husband steals her cat. Oh, and she’s won two “Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series” for her portrayal of Karen McCluskey.

Also seen in: A true character actress, Joosten is no stranger to the small screen. She’s appeared on everything from The West Wing to General Hospital, Frasier, Murphy Brown, Seinfeld, Roseanne and NYPD Blue just to name a few. You can also catch her in commercials for  V8 and my (and Amdan’s) personal favorite, Fiber One yogurt! “So we gotta eat the box to get the fiber?”

Favorite Moments: Pretty much anytime she makes her way onto the screen, I shriek with joy and laughter. Let’s see, when the housewives must road trip out to Edie’s son’s dorm to report her death, and ol’ McClusk is perched in the very backseat, makes me laugh, but not as hard as when it’s so obvious that they’re going to elect to her fix their flat tire. When she barrels through the front door of her surprise birthday party with a baseball bat and smashes her own cake, when the Scavo boys come to her house and she offers them peanut brittle and at Katherine’s party when she “drank a pitcher of martinis.”  But McCluskey’s finest moments are when she teams up with her more unscrupulous sister, played by Lily Tomlin. These two elderly drunken gumshoes try to solve the mystery of Dave Williams, and keep coming close, if he would just stop fucking with her. When he lands her in the hospital, McClusk calls her sister for the first time, “I need ya big time kiddo,” and the two begin their mission (not without pounding a tallboy of malt liquor first of course). Oh, and RUMOR HAS IT, that these two might be getting their own DH spin-off. Here’s hoping!

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One thought on “Character Spotlight: Karen McCluskey

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  1. Some other awesome things about Kathryn Joosten (always beloved as Mrs. Landingham from West Wing).

    1) Didn’t start acting until she was 42.

    2) When Dave Eggers was a kid, she did odd jobs for his family including hanging up the wallpaper in his room.

    3) First big break was as a street performer in Disney World at the age of 52.

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