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Fearsome foursomes

After eight gasp-filled seasons of "Desperate Housewives," the sun finally sets on Wisteria Lane as the comedy/drama/mystery series reaches its two-hour finale Sunday at 9 p.m. on Channel 5. And though we must say our goodbyes to Bree, Lynette, Gaby, and Susan, the trusty TV formula that brought them together isn't going anywhere. "Desperate Housewives" is part of a proud TV lineage of fearsome female foursomes from "The Golden Girls" right up to "Girls." At the heart of the formula's success is a precision-crafted dynamic that keeps the characters hugging, fighting, and talking it out, while viewers toggle their empathies between archetypes that never wear out. Below, a breakdown of TV's finest queen-quads.

The voice of reason

The bruised idealist

The passionate diva

The perpetual innocent



Voice of reason

No expert on men herself, Marnie still tries to bring Hannah to her senses about her non-texting fake boyfriend.

Allison Williams

The bruised idealist

"You know what I'm gonna do from now on? I'm gonna ask people if they're gay before I have sex with them."

Lena Dunham

The passionate diva

On contracting HPV: "All adventurous women do."

Jemima Kirke

The perpetual innocent

"I'm like the least virginy virgin ever."

Zosia Mamet

Hot In Cleveland


Voice of reason

After escaping from the Nazis, this Polish widow isn't fazed by anything, especially three neurotic tenants.

Betty White

The bruised idealist

Joy is a type-A entrepreneur with little to show for her life but a long trail of plucked celebrity eyebrows.

Jane Leeves

The passionate diva

Her soap opera has been canceled, but she still thinks people want her autograph.

Wendie Malick

The perpetual innocent

Newly reintroduced to the dating scene, Melanie was the only one who was surprised to discover that her new love interest was married.

Valerie Bertinelli

Desperate Housewives


Voice of reason

Trusty in an emergency. Not only did she hide her son's hit-and-run, she also helped Gaby bury her stepfather.

Marcia Cross

The bruised idealist

She raised her sisters because her mom was an alcoholic. Now she's raising her own kids while separated from her husband.

Felicity Huffman

The passionate diva

"The only person more self-centered than me is Carlos; he's so self-centered he doesn't even know how self-centered I am."

Eva Longoria

The perpetual innocent

Once locked herself out of the house while naked.

Teri Hatcher

Sex And The City


Voice of reason

Worked through a lot of her problems not to mention her friends' in her column.

Sarah Jessica Parker

The bruised idealist

"Soul mates only exist in the Hallmark aisle at Duane Reade Drugs."

Cynthia Nixon

The passionate diva

"I'm a tri-sexual. I'll try anything once."

Kim Cattrall

The perpetual innocent

So prim, so proper, she once asked the girls not to cuss in Vera Wang.

Kristin Davis

Living Single


Voice of reason

"Regine, you are an embarrassment to desperate women everywhere."

Erika Alexander

The bruised idealist

She couldn't get a firm grip on boomerang beau Scooter until the very last episode.

Queen Latifah

The passionate diva

"All I want is the best. I mean, I want a man that knows that fine wine doesn't come with a twist-off cap."

Kim Fields

The perpetual innocent

Khadijah: "Synclaire, I try to be there for you, but you take that fork in the road and you lose me every time!"

Kim Coles

Designing Women


Voice of reason

"Have you all just completely lost your minds?"

Dixie Carter

The bruised idealist

Whether dealing with her awful ex-husband or her on-again/off-again boyfriend, Mary Jo just can't seem to catch a break.

mary jo
Annie Potts

The passionate diva

"I got pulled over this morning for having all the mirrors in the Mercedes turned so I could see myself."

Delta Burke

The perpetual innocent

Poplar Bluff is to Charlene as St. Olaf is to Rose Nylund.

Jean Smart

The Golden Girls


Voice of reason

If there's a problem, chances are she's got an (almost) analogous tale from Sicily.

Estelle Getty

The bruised idealist

An exasperated roll of her eyes could launch a thousand ships and send Stan running for the door.

Bea Arthur

The passionate diva

"I swear with God as my witness, I will never pick up another man! In a library. On a Saturday. Unless he's cute. And drives a nice car. Amen."

Rue McClanahan

The perpetual innocent

Rose: "Can I ask a dumb question?"

Dorothy: "Better than anyone I know."

Betty White

SOURCE:Internet Movie Database

Patrick Garvin, Michael Brodeur/Globe Staff

Elizabeth Warren’s ‘A Fighting Chance’: An exclusive excerpt on the foreclosure crisis

Senator recalls an unsettling conversation from the depths of the mortgage crisis.

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Make a great home brew and become a pro

Several local contests are giving home brewers the chance to put their batches up for some serious critique.

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Session IPAs just in time for warmer weather

This summer, several major breweries are releasing session IPAs marketed as hoppy, flavorful beers you can take to the beach or drink with lunch.

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Boston firefighters reach tentative contract deal

Boston firefighters would get an 18.8 percent pay raise under a tentative contract deal that city labor officials said includes measures to improve safety and management in the Fire Department.

The six-year pact, which firefighters are expected to vote on next week, would cost the city $92.4 million, according to city officials, and comes seven months after an arbitrator put an end to acrimonious negotiations between the city and officers.

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AG hopeful has promoted online gambling

As he seeks the Democratic nomination for attorney general, Warren Tolman talks about his working-class roots, his two prior runs for statewide office, and his tenure in the Legislature.

What does not come up as often is the work he did for roughly two years promoting technology that would make betting more appealing to young people.

On Monday morning, Tolman was listed as director of business development at Fast Strike Games, which specializes “in the design of interactive games that are fun, easy to play and offer large prizes.” The Quincy firm promotes its games as playable on social media and mobile devices. It hopes to join with state lotteries to run cash-payout fantasy sports games.

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Demise of 5 cherished ducks brings a trail of human turmoil

A complicated saga has ensued after N.H. state representative David Campbell ran over a flock of ducks at a Nashua hotel.

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Hacker group Anonymous targets Children’s Hospital

The hospital was hit by a series of attacks apparently in response to its involvement in the Justina Pelletier custody case.

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Top grads from Boston art schools

A look at some of the most promising of this year’s master of fine arts candidates from local programs.

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Measles off to a fast start, as cases trend up

NEW YORK (AP) — Health officials are worried about recent US measles outbreaks that so far have caused more illnesses than at the same point of any year since 1996.

Authorities say 129 cases in 13 states were reported by mid-April, the bulk of them in California and New York City. Most were triggered by travelers who caught the virus abroad and spread it in the United States among unvaccinated people. Many of the travelers had been to the Philippines, where a recent measles epidemic has caused at least 20,000 illnesses.

The U.S. numbers remain relatively tiny, but officials are worried to see case counts growing.

Since 2000, the highly contagious disease has been considered eliminated in the United States, aside from occasional small outbreaks sparked by overseas travelers. For most of the last decade, the nation was seeing only about 60 cases a year.

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Afghan election brings fresh hope

After 12 years of poor leadership, corruption, and violence, Afghanistan is getting a badly needed second chance. Although votes in this month’s presidential election are still being counted, the results are already clear: Afghans resoundingly rejected the corrupt legacy of outgoing president Hamid Karzai.

Despite evidence of rigging and fraud, Karzai’s candidate fared poorly at the polls: Zalmai Rassoul appears to have received just 10 percent of the vote. The front-runner, who will face a run-off if he doesn’t get 50 percent of the vote, is former minister Abdullah Abdullah, a long-time rival of Karzai’s.

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SEC urges Nevada judge to move TelexFree case to Mass.

The bankruptcy case involves a Marlborough company that is accused of running a $1 billion Ponzi scheme.

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‘As You Like It’ a comic ramble in the woods

Robert Walsh directs a fluid, funny production of “As You Like It” in Medford by the Actors’ Shakespeare Project.

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Businesses saw coconut water explode into a $150 million a year phenomena. Now they are banking on maple water as the next big thing.

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Israel walks away from peace talks after Palestinian overture to terrorist group

In another major setback for Secretary of State John F. Kerry’s peacemaking efforts in the Middle East, the government of Israel on Thursday broke off US-brokered talks after Palestinian leaders announced a “unity pact” with one of the leading anti-Israel terrorist groups. The surprise Israeli move was the most ominous sign yet that Kerry’s nine-month attempt at personal diplomacy, which faces a crucial deadline next week, may founder.

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Debate simmers over whether to retire New Bedford elephants

Many cannot imagine Buttonwood Park Zoo without Ruth and Emily, but advocates want the Asian elephants to live out their lives in a sanctuary.

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Boston Board of Health votes to close city-run methadone clinic and transfer patients

More than 400 opiate addicts in Boston who receive daily doses of methadone from a city-run clinic on Frontage Road will be steered to a private, for-profit facility by summer.

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‘Shark Tank’ in Cambridge: Dream big, but get investors

The reality show “Shark Tank” held an audition last week in Cambridge. But unlike most reality shows that place a premium on unfettered ego, “Shark Tank” celebrates and rewards business acumen. Entrepreneurs of all stripes try to convince a panel of “Sharks” to invest in their companies, and the show often offers lessons on marketing, distribution, and business valuation.

The Cambridge “Shark Tank” tryout was a reminder that capital for business innovation often occurs far beyond the confines of venture capital and traditional banking. Indeed, the ubiquity of Kickstarter campaign shows how many innovators want — and need — to reach beyond the usual gatekeepers of capital.

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In ‘Sila,’ perspectives on climate change inspired by the Arctic

The world premiere of the first of Chantal Bilodeau’s planned eight-play cycle opens at the Central Square Theater.

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Northeastern to offer business innovation degree

Northeastern University is launching a one-year graduate program focused on business innovation that working professionals can take on weekends.

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Soprano Voigt forges her own path forward

Deborah Voigt is still an opera singer, yet she’s entered a phase in which opera performance is taking something of a back seat to other projects.

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