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Three 40-something best friends from Los Angeles are flying to Paris when their plane makes an emergency landing in Cleveland. Realizing that all the norms from Los Angeles don't apply anymore, they decide to celebrate a city that values real women and stay where they're still considered hot.
Outspoken feminist Julia Sugarbaker runs a design firm out of her Atlanta home, along with her shallow ex-beauty queen sister, Suzanne, divorced mother Mary Jo, and, naive country girl Charlene. Black ex-con Anthony helps deliver furniture for the business and voices his unique opinion on whatever the women are discussing. Episodes typically revolve around the work, personal, and love lives of these four women. Written by
Designing Women is a true classic show, certainly with its original cast, offering some of the best characters, chemistry, and scripts ever on television. The people behind the show were the Thomasons, good friends of Bill Clinton from Arkansas, and often, the show expressed their liberal point of view.
Julia, Suzanne, Charlene, Mary Jo etc., have now all passed into syndication where they can be enjoyed all the time. These wonderful actresses fleshed out their characters so were able to laugh, be appalled, and cry with them: Julia, the widow, outspoken with a good heart; Suzanne, her beauty queen sister, selfish, shallow, and lovable; Charlene, the patsy, pretty, sweet, and naive; Mary Jo, the divorcée, struggling with dating and motherhood, self-deprecating and funny. And what can be said about that supporting cast of Meshach Taylor as Anthony and Alice Ghostley as Bernice? Perfect.
Even though I laughed hysterically at many of the episodes, two stand out - one where, during freezing weather, Suzanne and Anthony are stranded at a fleabag hotel for the night; the other was when the girls went on some sort of camping trip and were ordered around by a counselor - I'm vague on the details, but I can still see the look on Charlene and Mary Jo's faces.
Like the Golden Girls, with the loss of one of the cast, in this case Delta Burke, the show suffered, although it was still funny with Julia Duffy and Judith Ivey. But audiences find it difficult to accept new characters as replacements, no matter how good. The chemistry was never the same. Nevertheless, even the later episodes make for great viewing.
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