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|Index||24 reviews in total|
"Designing Women" centered on four Southern women who worked at an
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
not funny. Were these people watching the same show that I
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.
This show was funny most of the time--and a might preachy some of the time,
but always fun to watch.
As long as Delta Burke and Jean Smart were on the show, it really was great,
but when these two funny women left the show, it went downhill
That means that the first five years of the show were the best and should
not be missed.
Suzanne, Charlene and Anthony were the funniest characters on this show and
Julia was too preachy, while Mary Jo was a pain in the neck--always whining
I just saw an episode of Designing Women entitled "Tornado Watch". In my opinion this was the best episode of the entire series. The writers and actors were at their peak of hilarity when they produced this little gem back in 1990. I've seen it many times and it never fails to make me laugh out loud. This particular episode had all the elements that made Designing Women one of the best television sitcoms in history. Dim-witted Charlene Stillfield makes a home video to send back to her hillbilly clan in Poplar Bluff. Aging beauty queen Suzanne Sugarbaker at her most 'PMS-on-a-diet' bitchy, shrieks "Happy Anniversary, Lois and Shimmy!" into Charlene's camcorder. Sassy single mother Mary Jo Shively is whining about some sexist pig again. Feminist Julia Sugarbaker is her usual cool-collected self but getting more frazzled by the minute. Ditzy senior-citizen Bernice Clifton drops by and so does Daddy Jones, an old mountain man. When Daddy breaks out the moonshine things really get zany. Ex-con Anthony Bouvier and his annoying girlfriend Vanessa groove to motown tunes in the background. It's an all-out madcap party. As Bernice and Daddy Jones dirty dance, Julia delivers the funniest line of the show, "I don't ever wanna see anything like this in my home again." Then, a nerdy client drunk on moonshine, strips down to bikini briefs and proceeds to sexually harass all the women. Luckily, a tornado rips through Sugarbaker's before things get too out of hand. The next day as everyone cleans up the mess, Charlene's outrageous home video airs on CNN...the perfect ending to this perfect episode. Many thanks to Dixie Carter, Delta Burke, Jean Smart, Annie Potts, Meshach Taylor and Alice Ghostley for making us laugh for seven great seasons. Now we can see them all again everyday on Lifetime. Enjoy!
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.
I know most episodes word for glorious word, and hope that Designing Women stays in syndication for a long time. It would be wonderful to see a reunion between the main characters, Dixie Carter, Delta Burke, Jean Smart and Annie Potts. The recurring themes to the show are the strong-willed Julia's many social campaigns and commentaries, and the ultra-feminine Suzanne as her manipulative yet sexy counterpart. I rather see myself in both characters, and feel that Southern women are portrayed pretty accurately in the show. We are very feminine, yet strong as Steel Magnolias. I live in Atlanta, and wish that I knew 4 wonderful friends as spunky and interesting as these main characters.
This show along with The Golden Girls were the only reasons to watch TV during the last half of the 1980's. Thank God that both series are in syndication and can be seen on numerous channels today. Designing Women was the warmer of the two series, particularly the first five years before the change of cast. Just great writing and brilliant acting took this series to the very top of comedy shows. It was always a hoot to see all the girls supposedly working in an interior decorating company when they never appear to actually be working. Many of the shows featured Julia singing and those were the shows that I liked the best. My other favorite character was played by Jean Smart who unfortunately left the show after the fifth season when she married Bill the serviceman. All in all such a wonderful entertaining show that can still be seen today.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Where to begin. Designing Women has always been one of my all-time
favorite sitcoms. For the record I am also a huge fan of The Golden
Girls. As many know these two shows have been heavily compared and
contrasted for the longest time. The two shows do have striking
similarities and many out there have accused Designing Women of ripping
The Golden Girls off (And I do believe there is a hint of truth to
that, but we'll save that for another time) but Designing Women stands
completely on it's own. In many ways I think there is a sense of
humanism & realism in Designing Women that is lacking in The Golden
Girls, but enough about them.
I fell in love with the show straight from the Pilot. I was still in grade school but I thought it was hysterical. I enjoyed the great cast of characters and how beautifully they played off of one another. And the actresses who played those characters were amazing. Whether it was the kooky yet vulnerable Charlene (Jean Smart), the confidence and dry wit of Julia (Dixie Carter), the semi-neurotic girl next door Mary Jo (Annie Potts) or the over the top drama (And silliness) of Suzanne (Delta Burke), these characters made me laugh and laugh. They were all great performers but Delta Burke as Suzanne truly stood out as a one of a kind comedic talent. Burke surprised critics and viewers alike by showing she could bring a self absorbed former beauty queen (With a secret heart of gold) to new heights of hilarity. The show also benefited from the strong political sensibilities of it's creator/producer Linda Bloodworth-Thomason as the show often took liberal political stances during a time when it was relatively taboo for sitcoms to do so. The show did struggle during it's last couple of seasons primarily due to a revolving door of cast changes. First, it was the very abrupt departure of Burke, which from a viewer stand-point was somewhat jarring. What I mean by that is that we had one of the strongest (And funniest) characters literally vanish in thin air without ANY explanation, it really kinda threw things off for awhile. After Burke departed we than saw Charlene leave. At least this time there was an explanation, her military husband had suddenly been permanently transferred to the UK. Next was the truly AWFUL casting of Julia Duffy as Sugarbaker cousin, Allison. Though I hold no ill-will towards the acting talent of Duffy, the character of Allison Sugarbaker was dreadful. She was completely unlikeable and had NO redeeming qualities. Someone must've thought the same thing as she too vanished without a trace after just 1 season. Let us also not forget the season 6 finale "Shades of Vanessa" which attempted to set up black comedienne Jackee' as a possible partner in the Sugarbaker firm for the upcoming 7th season. This idea never panned out, for whatever reason. Although it never "Jumped The Shark", the Allison character came pretty close to pushing it over that edge. I think Jan Hooks should get special mention as someone who continuously elevated the show. With a few years of Saturday Night Live experience under her belt she managed to create a funny, memorable character in that of Carlene Dawber, the sweet yet strange little sister of the departed Charlene. Eventually another character hopped on board, that of BJ (Played nicely by Judith Ivey) a wealthy widow who, in it's final season, became a partner to save the ailing Sugarbaker firm. I will always remember Designing Women as a genuinely funny show with quirky yet believable characters and great writing, despite some of it's messy cast changes. My all-time favorite episode is "Pearls of Wisdom", just for the laugh-til-you-cry hilarity of the salad bar scene.
At the time of this writing (June 07') a season-by-season DVD release is pending. Sony (The studio that will release DW on DVD) initially intended to release Season 1 in the summer of 06. However, a season-by-season release has been stalled due to music clearances. This is completely plausible considering the dozens (and dozens) of songs/pieces of music used throughout the series. Sony has stated that due to a market saturation of TV to DVD releases, the music industry is taking advantage of this by demanding big bucks for music licensing. Sony says that the music fees are so high that if they were to go ahead with the shows release it would mean a much higher than usual retail price for the sets. Sony has repeated that they are committed to releasing the show on DVD but want to keep the price point low so that casual fans and hardcore fans alike can enjoy the show without raping their wallets. And so we wait......
This show had a lot of wit and humor. It was such a greatly written show
about issues that were (and still are) important. They were brought to
light for others to learn and understand.
Additionally, the comedy was hilarious. I found the women to be fantastic characters and the actresses did such wonderful jobs. I loved the speeches Julia fired upon people, the useless stories Charlene recalled, the wit that Mary Jo displayed, and the way that Suzanne was ignorant and it was done in such a humorous and revealing way. I just think this show was ingenious!
"Designing Women" is one of those rare shows that is utter perfection from start to finish. Each and every character is truly defined from the first scene of the pilot until the last frame of the finale. The cast is glorious and the writing pitch perfect. You will literally laugh until you can't laugh anymore. Delta Burke as uppity aging beauty queen Suzanne Sugarbaker is the glue that holds this show together. The show started to flounder when she left the series but rebounded with the casting of Judity Ivey as B.J. Poteet. Linda Bloodworth-Thomason the creator/writer/executive producer of this show flawlessly created a world in which these hilarious characters could exist without seeming unrealistic or over the top. At times the show could seem preachy to some but the delivery of the lines and the overall performance always made up for that. your sides will ache from watching this show it is hilarious.
One of things that bothered me about Designing Women was the loss of Delta Burke and Jean Smart leaving the show. Saturday Night Live's Jan Hooks and Newhart's Julia Duffy joined the cast but the show was never the same again. Alice Ghostley and Meshach Taylor were regulars in supporting roles. I remember watching this show on Monday nights when it first aired. They were four loud, opinionated, Southern broads with a sense of humor and chemistry. I truly could believe that Suzanne and Julia played by Dixie Carter and Delta Burke were sisters. I didn't care about Suzanne or Delta's weight. It wasn't an issue but people in Hollywood think that weight is a bigger issue than it should be. Anyway, I never saw the four women ever appear to be working. The place didn't look like an office but an actual house. I know they were supposed to be interior designers but I never saw them do any work. Anyway Annie Potts and Jean Smart were great as the divorced mom and single receptionist. I remember the episode in which Julia was a juror and she was invited to meet President Carter and his wife. Well she missed the dinner but they invited her for desert because of her obligations. It was a well-written show too and very well acted.
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