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Designing Women Season One
A well-crafted sitcom
Many things distinguish the 1986-1987 first season of the sitcom “Designing Women,” which is being released on DVD on May 26. This show about a small Atlanta interior-design firm is known best for focusing on four strong female characters, for addressing AIDS and other controversial topics, and for clever and candid dialogue.
The pilot episode of the series sets its tone by having aging beauty queen Suzanne Sugarbaker date the now-wealthy ex-husband of business partner of Mary Jo, who struggled financially to put the ex-husband through medical school. Several jokes centered on the nearly 30 year-old Suzanne’s promiscuity and her six ex-husbands.
The pilot also included a trademark tirade of Bette Davis like firm head Julia Sugarbaker who reveled in having a similar personality to Bette Davis and other “big-shouldered broads.” In this case, she emasculated a man who had the audacity to barge his way into a dinner that Julia and her female co-workers were enjoying. Having this outburst come back to haunt Julia in a later episode that season was hilarious.
Other memorable episodes included an early example of a cougar in the form of a 41 year-old woman who dated Julia’s 19 year-old son and battled her for control over the boy, small-town southern tomboy Charlene being embarrassed about dating a charming but overweight man, and a doctor’s nonchalance regarding a possibility of breast cancer. A story regarding sexual harassment is another feminist topic from this season.
This season additionally introduced the viewing public to the classic character of the ditzy elderly Bernice, who became a regular character in later season. Her antics throughout the series included making sexual advances and singing slave spirituals to black deliveryman Anthony, wearing a Christmas-tree skirt, and trying to hire fictional detective Jim Rockford of the 1970s show “The Rockford Files” for an investigation.
The DVD set offers the bonus of a booklet that provides insights by series creator and producer Linda Bloodworth-Thomason and good descriptions of each of the 21 episodes. The special feature is a 2006 panel discussion in which the series star and Thomason participated.
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Review by John Stahl
John Stahl is a freelance legal writer who is also a fan of classic and cult television programs. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Designing Women Season One
In the gleaming high-rise offices of Reynholm Industries, powerful executives oversee billion dollar business deals. But in the dark and shabby basement, the company s IT Support Team bitter slacker Roy (Chris O Dowd), socially inept Moss (Richard Ayoade), and their new boss, computer illiterate Jen (Katherine Parkinson) rule their own domain of professional irresponsibility, mega-nerd ecstasy, and random acts of personal insanity.
Producer Ash Atalla (THE OFFICE) and writer/director Graham Linehan (FATHER TED), present the most critically acclaimed comedy series of the fall television season and a 2008 International Emmy Award winner for Best Comedy, now featuring deleted footage, audio commentaries, a behind-the-scenes documentary and much more.
"Kick Arse Comedy!" -Aubry D'Arminio, Entertainment Weekly
Actors: Chris O'Dowd, Richard Ayoade, Katherine Parkisnon, Christopher Morris
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