Sunday, August 26, 2012

Review: Designing Women

My friend and I have been watching a show that I love dearly. A few of my other friends and family love it as well. I find it to be a show that can make me laugh. It defiantly helped me learned southern ways as a child. My first stepmom loved watching the show. She would watch it after watching the Golden Girls at night on Lifetime during our summer stays in the United States.

When we moved to the US for good and with my new stepmom I had completely forgot about Designing Women until I was watching TV Land one night and there it was. I quickly got up and Googled it. I watched a few videos there. It made me crestfallen when I saw that they weren't on DVD. It wasn't until my second year of college they release the complete first season.

I love all seven seasons but I am defiantly partial to the first five. My favorite season is defiantly season 4. I am not alone in that voting. So what is all the hype about this show? Well it has comedy, different characters than any other show. Most show have family with conflicting problems. This was about coworkers that were so close they could be sisters, though two of them were.

Julia Sugarbaker, who serves as the head of Sugarbaker's Design Firm, can best be described as a left-liberal feminist with a very outspoken point of view. She is very quick to speak her mind, sometimes without even knowing all the facts. One thing can be said for sure, Julia is very passionate and stands by her convictions. She was played by Dixie Carter, who was an amazing actress. She fit into her role well as Julia Sugarbaker. Her real husband plays her boyfriend in the first five seasons.

Suzanne's mother Perky told everyone that Suzanne would grow up to be the center of attention, and she was correct. Suzanne revels in the attention -- which is probably what led her into the beauty pageant circles. She believes that beauty is the key to success in life, and that she is -- of course -- the most beautiful of all. Suzanne has won eleven beauty titles ranging from "Miss Georgia World" to "Miss Atlanta Arboretum." She comes from a wealthy Georgia family, and, having grown up in country clubs and in the company of governors, Suzanne dates many elderly, but wealthy, men. It isn't unusual for her dates to cancel due to a broken hip or a stint in intensive care, which is ammunition for a multitude of sarcastic comments from her mouthy older sister,Julia Sugarbaker. Delta Burke was extraordinary at portraying the essence of Suzanne. Her real husband plays her ex husband which to me is hilarious.

Mary Jo Shively is a devoted mother, a meticulous worker, and a loyal friend -- and probably the character whose personality changes the most during the course of the series. During the first season, the newly divorced Mary Jo is extremely shy and easily intimidated. However, as her dealings with her children, men and the business world start to bring her out of her shell, Julia Sugarbaker seems to be her biggest influence. By Season Seven, she has studied under "The Terminator" and can easily give Julia a run for her money. Annie Potts sure had an amazing time learning to grow with her character.

Charlene Frazier was raised a strict Baptist in the small town of Poplar Bluff, Missouri. She is the eldest of thirteen children born to Norvelle "Bud" Frazier and Ione "Dot" Hogg. Her naive and trusting personality is equally obnoxious and endearing, and she has the biggest heart of anyone her co-workers have ever known. Though it has been known to get the ladies in trouble on occasion, Charlene's naive trust in people allows her to see the world from such a romantic perspective. She was even naive enough not to realize that all her friends growing up with were engaging in sex --- despite a pact to save themselves until marriage. (She finds out later from her best high school friend Monette, who --- to her surprise --- has become the madam of a brothel). Jean Smart still laughs about them pulling off phony southern accents. Plus her real time husband plays Mary Jo's on and off boyfriend.

Anthony Bouvier starts out as Sugarbaker's delivery man and then eventually becomes a full partner in the firm. Prior to working at Sugarbakers he had not had the easiest life. His mother, a drug addict, left him in the care of his grandmother when he was two weeks old. A strict, but loving, school teacher, Dondi -- as Anthony calls his grandmother -- now lives in Memphis, Tennessee. Anthony's father is located by his co-workers as a birthday gift for Anthony on his thirtieth birthday. His name is Charles Clarence Monroe and he lives in New Orleans. At first, Anthony is not too pleased by the reunion, but finally decides to get to know his dad. Anthony has brothers and sisters scattered all over the country, but he rarely mentions them.  Meshach Taylor still gets called "Black man!" because of this show.

Bernice Clifton is the addled best friend of Suzanne and Julia's mother, Perky Sugarbaker. After Perky moves to Japan, the ladies look after the widow Mrs. Clifton at their mother's request. But keeping up with Bernice can be extremely difficult since she has an arterial flow problem above the neck that causes her to behave rather outrageously. Bernice sends the group health tips and enters everyone in contests. She's been known to phone Suzanne to say, "if you're not going to eat all the food in your refrigerator, why don't you just put it in a cab and send it over to me?" Bernice lives in a retirement community called Hillcrest Leisure Land, and, since she is easily bored there, makes frequent visits to Sugarbakers for the afternoon. After a while, the ladies become used to Bernice's eccentricities --- often delegating the responsibility of entertaining her to Anthony. Alice Ghostley to me will always be Bernice.

Julia and Suzanne's cousin, Allison Sugarbaker, shows up in Season Six after buying Suzanne's share of Sugarbakers. The ladies are under the impression that Allison is to be a silent partner, but she shows up to take over the firm, insisting that she has the controlling interest in the company. Julia Duffy was never one of my favorite actresses and that might be why I have such a problem with her on Designing Women.

Recent divorcee Carlene Frazier Dobber is everything her older sister Charlene Stillfield is -- tenfold! Originally in Atlanta to start over after her divorce, she takes over the office work at Sugarbakers when Charlene's husband Bill transfers the family to England, acquiring the position as "baby" of the firm.Though she is so much like her sister, naive and trusting does not begin to describe Carlene. She looks with wonder on Sugarbakers as well as everything else in Atlanta, having never really been outside her hometown of Poplar Bluff, Missouri. Unfortunately this also means that she does not have the grace and style that Charlene has acquired over the years. Carlene is basically still a backwoods hick. The idea that her classless ex-husband oozes charm in the way that she feels he does turns the stomach of her co-workers, but her sweet innocence and genuine nature warms their hearts. Jan Hooks did a fantastic job of making the character Carlene come alive. She defiantly made the transition that Jean Smart left off. 

And last but not least, Bonnie Jean Poteet makes her debut in the final season of the series. B.J. brings a welcome down-to-earth air and wit to the firm amidst all the everyday drama of her co-workers. Despite all of her money, it is the simple things that amuse her.B.J. finds nothing more entertaining than people. She loves to push their buttons and especially revels in the bizarre personality quirks of her co-workers. Though very opinionated, she never allows her difference of opinion to affect the way she feels about a person or how she treats them. She does, however, enjoy watching a person get all flustered -- sometimes purposely pushing the necessary buttons to get the show started, and then tempering the situation with her own brand of wit and sarcasm. Julia, especially, is B.J.'s favorite target. She knows the Julia is very left-liberal, and B.J. loves to bring up subjects that she knows will ruffle Julia's feathers. Played by Judith Ivey, who really is from Texas, did an amazing job on coming onto the show and making more laughs. 

So yes you all of these characters up and you have a hilarious sitcom that you must watch. I highly recommend it. They talk and discuss all topics that normal tv shows don't talk about. Plus, it is set in Georgia which is really cool when they mention or make reference to Alabama.

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