Thelma Harper and her spinster sister Fran open their home to Thelma's recently divorced son Vinton and his teenage son and daughter. It's quite an adjustment for everyone, especially the ... See full summary »
A greasy-spoon diner in Phoenix, Arizona is the setting for this long-running series. The title character, Alice Hyatt, is an aspiring singer who arrives in Phoenix with her teenaged son, ... See full summary »
Carl Kanisky is chief of police in Glenlawn, California. After the death of his wife, Margaret, he asks her friend, Nell Harper, to come in to keep house and take care of his children, ... See full summary »
Lara Jill Miller
Hayden Fox is the head coach of a university football team, and eats, sleeps and lives football. His partner, however, does not share his passion for the sport, which frequently causes ... See full summary »
Craig T. Nelson,
Jerry Van Dyke,
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" centered on four Southern women who worked at an interior design firm in Atlanta, Georgia. The original cast included Dixie Carter, Delta Burke, Annie Potts, Jean Smart, and Meshach Taylor. The humor was outrageously funny, witty and topical and the actors all worked well as an ensemble since their characters were so well-defined and very different. I am puzzled by the many negative comments about this show stating that it was not funny. Were these people watching the same show that I was?
In 1991, both Delta Burke and Jean Smart left the series and were replaced by Julia Duffy, who had played Stephanie on "Newhart," and Jan Hooks, an alumna of "Saturday Night Live." Both were fine actresses but their characters were not well fleshed-out. Duffy's Allison Sugarbaker was a New Yorker and, in my opinion, just never caught on with viewers. Hooks' Carlene Dobber was simply a nitwit, which is a shame because Jan Hooks was hysterical and very versatile on all the seasons she was on SNL. They never developed a multi-layered character that utilized her full comedic potential, but rather one that was mostly a one-note caricature. So, this truly fine and funny actress was wasted in a silly role. Julia Duffy was replaced the next and final season by Judith Ivey, whose character was again a Southern type who fit seamlessly into the ensemble.
I often think the best character was Bernice Clifton as played by the outrageously funny and talented Alice Ghostley. Next to Suzanne Sugarbaker, this character had some hilarious and unforgettable lines.
There are many terrific episodes of this series. They are currently being rebroadcast on the Lifetime Network along with "The Golden Girls," another great series. Those who commented that "Designing Women" is a rip-off of "The Golden Girls" are mistaken; both are fine situation comedies in their own right but are also very unique and distinct from one another. The only thing common to both is that each show starred four wonderful comedic actresses. It would be great to have some solid programming such as both of these shows on the networks today.
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