Phyllis was widowed by an unnamed man who is the father of her only child, Rex Van de Kamp. Rex was Phyllis's pride and joy after her husband's death. Phyllis clashed with her daughter-in-law, Bree Van de Kamp right from the start. She loves her grandchildren, Andrew, and Danielle Van de Kamp.
After Rex's death, Phyllis comes to Bree's house for the funneral. Bree and Phyllis fight over what the minister will say during the ceremony. After they makeup about that, they fight over what he will wear. Phyllis wants Rex to wear his old college tie but Bree refuses. At the funeral, Bree see's Phyllis put Rex in the ugly tie and Bree takes Tom Scavo's tie and switches them out. ("Next")
Phyllis is driving Bree crazy by telling everyone how sad she is over Rex's death. While dinning at a restaurant, they run into Lynette Scavo and she witnesses Bree bitch slap her mother-in-law. Later on, Phyllis see's George Williams consoling Bree over the loss of Rex. Phyllis calls the detectives to alert them that Bree has a boyfriend already. ("You Could Drive a Person Crazy")
Phyllis and Bree go to put flowers by Rex's grave when they see the police dug him up. Bree asks what happened, and Phyllis says it looks like someone dug Rex up. Bree says she got that, but asks why they would do that. Phyllis says she doesn't know, but a moment later tells her maybe this has something to do with that insurance investigator, who had come by asking all sorts of questions. Bree is surprised to hear about this, as she knows nothing of what Phyllis is talking about, and the old woman says she must've been at the store, but anyway, he was very suspicious that Rex didn't die of a heart attack: he said Rex was poisoned. Phyllis asks "Did I not mention that?", before turning her back on her and letting out a sneaky smile. Bree talks with Detective Barton who reveals Phyllis told them Bree has a boyfriend, Bree is furious and the next morning she packs Phyllis's bag and kicks her out. ("You'll Never Get Away from Me")
Phyllis appears at Bree's baby shower and of course starts making shady remarks about her parenting. When Bree once again upsets Phyllis, Phyllis storms up the stairs to retrieve a fur coat she had given to Bree a while back. While she was up there, she finds pregnancy pads and learns that Danielle is pregnant, and Bree was protecting Danielle by pretending she was having the baby. Phyllis later leaves the party but turns up at the school where Danielle is staying and takes Danielle to stay with her at the nursing home. ("If There's Anything I Can't Stand")
Bree calls Danielle but learns she’s left the convent to go with Phyllis. Angry, Bree calls Phyllis but reaches her answering machine. Phyllis and Danielle hear the message, but Phyllis is convinced she can handle Bree. Orson and Bree have arrived at Phyllis’s, where they tell her and Danielle they’re taking Danielle home! But Phyllis tells them Danielle’s delivering the baby at her home, and then will be raising the baby with her. Bree’s aghast, and her attempts to reason with Danielle fail. Bree, Orson, and Andrew are eating, but Bree’s too depressed. Andrew knows what Danielle cares about: herself, and having fun. They need to figure out what Danielle thinks is fun, and give it to her. Bree and Orson sit with Phyllis and Danielle at the pool at Phyllis’ retirement community. Bree sends Phyllis away and then she and Orson suggest to Danielle that her grandmother’s heart is weak, and Danielle may have to take care of both her baby and Phyllis. And all those other old people living there will be her new friends. But if she leaves with Bree, Danielle can have a convertible and go to college in Florida. Someone will have to take care of the baby, of course. Phyllis returns, out of breath, and Danielle tells her grandmother they need to talk. Danielle says goodbye to her grandmother. Bree and Phyllis have a few moments together, as Phyllis declares she thought having the baby would be like having a part of Rex back. Bree wants Phyllis to babysit the baby on Saturday night, an idea Phyllis is open to. ("Art Isn't Easy")