memories of the ’80s – Designing Women

These southern ladies showed their feisty, funny selves in a unique ensemble comedy of the 1980s: Designing Women.

Created by Linda Bloodworth Thomason, the series focused on four women: Julia Sugarbaker (Dixie Carter) the elder, elegant liberal sister to Suzanne Sugarbaker (Delta Burke) the flashy former Miss Georgia beauty queen, who start a interior design firm. Mary Jo (Annie Potts) is a recent divorcee and designer, while Charlene (Jean Smart) is the office manager and the dumb blonde of the group.

Debuting in September 1986, the series focused on the relationships of the four women, and used comedy to show the bonds as well as the unique characteristics of being different kinds of Southern ladies.

As Suzanne marries, divorces and remarries, her sister Julia and Mary Jo deal with family, friends, boyfriends and clients, and Charlene shows off her lack of smarts, but also her loyalty. Meshach Taylor portrayed Anthony, an ex-con who becomes the only man among the women and an employee of Sugarbaker Designs.

Notable reoccurring husbands/exhusbands/boyfriends were played by Gerald McRaney, Hal Holbrook, Scott Bakula and Douglas Barr.

Although the series never achieved top 10 ratings, it was a viewer favourite and when CBS moved it around and then attempted to cancel it, viewers wrote in to save the show, returning it to the Monday night line-up and landing the show in the top 20.

But in the early 1990s, the viewers slowly disappeared and the show was cancelled in 1993.

This first series by Linda Bloodworth-Thomas led to several more series, all focusing on the southern US and its unique characters, which is what made this show a viewer favourite. These four ladies were never to be ignored, embracing the 1980s in its style and at times, over the top approach to life.


About Waheeda Harris

A pop culture junkie with a penchant for exploring our planet.
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