The mid-80s and 90s had one TV series that catapulted to the head of the class in ratings. Designing Women was ahead of its time with a mostly female cast and themes that were distinctly different from anything seen before on TV.
The Ladies of Sugarbaker & Associates had turns of phrase, withering glances and timely screeds that made the ensemble one of America’s most beloved TV series of yore.
And these ladies’ brand of funny has legs, as Hulu is resurrecting this iconic sitcom and soon, Designing Women will be available to stream.
It was announced at the Television Critics’ Association 2019 summer tour, in a deal with Sony Pictures Television (SPT), Hulu has acquired the rights for this gem to stream on Hulu on August 26…Women’s Equality Day!
Miss Julia Sugarbaker just swooned in the great beyond.
What was Designing Women about?
Designing Women featured an ensemble of working women in the design business. The show was on CBS from 1986-1993, with lead Julia Sugarbaker (Dixie Carter), the doyenne and outspoken owner of a design firm that was run out of her Atlanta home along with her former beauty queen sister, Suzanne (Delta Burke), divorced mother Mary Jo (Annie Potts), and naive office mate Charlene (Jean Smart).
Ex-con handyman Anthony Bouvier (Meshach Taylor) was the outlier wildcard, the male perspective who interjected when he could.
No topical news trend was ignored as these feisty females hashed over their lives, from sex and love to politics and religion, using the Victorian Georgian office as their salon for repartee and rants galore.
Dixie Carter sadly passed away in 2019 from cancer complications. She was married to actor Hal Holbrook.
Julia Sugarbaker was Scarlett O’Hara with a big brain and little patience for boorish nincompoops, especially of the male variety.
This beautiful beauty queen loved men, food and reliving the past. She was also a silent partner with sister Julia.
Delta Burke played this larger-than-life character with every bit of big-haired presence and blustery obliviousness she could and taking the center stage whenever she could. Suzanne had her closest chats with Anthony and was never a girl’s girl or one who had many girlfriends.
Her obtuseness at times drove sister Julia bonkers. After receiving two Emmy nominations in real life, she created a wedge between the producers (Linda Bloodworth-Thomason and Harry Thomason) and Dixie Carter. Because of this, she left the series in 1991.
Today Delta and her husband Gerald McRaney have an antique shop in Mississippi and she also has a line of intimate apparel for sale.
Mary Jo Shivley
Annie Potts is never slowing down on the small screen and plays Sheldon’s grandma in Young Sheldon.
Her TV and film career is prodigious, and her role on Designing Women saw her often piping in agreement with the opinionated Julia Sugarbaker. She was close to Charlene and was the head designer for Julia and Suzanne’s business.
Charlene Frazier Stillfield
Charlene was sweet comic relief to break up the heaviness of Julia’s righteous indignation and one to make Suzanne a bit cuckoo with her lack of worldly knowledge.
Like Annie Potts, Jean Smart is on fire still for notable TV work. Her credits include Fargo, Legion, and now Watchmen for HBO, as Smart is no longer cast as a ditsy naive side-player.
She even played a serial killer, Aileen Wuornos, in the TV movie, Overkill: The Aileen Wuornos Story and starred in Mistress opposite Robert De Niro and Eli Wallach.
When does it air?
The entire series (163 episodes across 7 Seasons) will begin streaming on August 26 only on Hulu.