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  • Series Premiere Date: Sep 29, 1986
  • Season #: 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 8
Designing Women Image

Mixed or average reviews - based on 6 Critics What's this?

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  • Starring: Jean Smart, Delta Burke, Meshach Taylor
  • Summary: Julia Sugarbaker (Dixie Carter), Mary Jo Shively (Annie Potts), Charlene Frazier-Stillfield (Jean Smart) and Suzanne Sugarbaker (Delta Burke) are associates at their design firm, Sugarbaker and Associates. Julia Sugarbaker is the owner of Sugarbaker and Associates and is very outspoken and strong-willed. Mary Jo Shively is a divorced single-parent who is just as strong-willed as Julia, but isn't as self-confident. Charlene is the naive and trusting farm girl from Poplar Bluff, Missouri. Suzanne Sugarbaker is the self-centered ex-beauty queen who has a number of wealthy ex-husbands.

    At the end of Season 5 Delta Burke was fired from the series and Jean Smart left to pursue other goals. Two new characters were introduced: Allison Sugarbaker (Julia Duffy) and Carlene Frazier Dobber (Jan Hooks). Soon, Julia Duffy was taken out of the series and a final cast change brought in Bonnie Jean "B.J." Poteet (Judith Ivey).

    The series was very successful for CBS, lasting 7 seasons (163 episodes). Reruns from the series continue to air on Lifetime. In 1995, Delta Burke reconciled with the series creators and reprised her role of Suzanne Sugarbaker for the far less successful spin-off Women of the House, which co-starred Teri Garr and Patricia Heaton. Carter, Burke, and Bloodworth-Thomason had all previously worked together on the 1982-83 sitcom Filthy Rich, from which a lot of dialogue in Designing Women was recycled.
    Nielsen Ratings:
    (Top 30 or Better)

    #23 in the 1989- 1990 Season
    #11 in the 1990- 1991 Season
    #6 in the 1991- 1992 Season
  • Genre(s): Comedy, Drama
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 6
  2. Negative: 1 out of 6
  1. 90
    It will inevitably be compared with "The Golden Girls," NBC's hit from last year about four older women sharing a house in Miami...But this entry from CBS is considerably different and, for my money, funnier and better...It is the best new show CBS is offering this season. [28 Sept 1986, p.TV-6]
  2. Reviewed by: Steve Sonsky
    Feb 5, 2014
    May be the most outrageous new comedy since "All in the Family," in terms of what it's willing to try and say. It's going to make some people laugh. It's going to offend some people...For my money, it's the best and brightest new sitcom of the year -- sharp and tart in its writing, sharp and tart in its execution by four splendid actresses. They, and it, have got spirit and style and sass. [29 Sept 1986, p.C1]
  3. Reviewed by: John J. O'Connor
    Feb 5, 2014
    Ms. Bloodworth-Thomason is no Susan Harris, whose crackling humor keeps "The Golden Girls" popping steadily from week to week. On the other hand, Designing Women has a first-rate cast.
  4. Reviewed by: Tom Shales
    Feb 5, 2014
    Funny, yes. Wildly funny, no...As an addition to pop literature about women in groups, Designing Women appears more derivative than innovative, but being derivative hardly ever hurts in prime-time television. [29 Sept 1986, p.C3]
  5. Reviewed by: Howard Rosenberg
    Feb 5, 2014
    The premiere of Designing Women...provides fewer answers than indications. And the indications are that even good performers in an appealing setting won't make Designing Woman funny without better-designed scripts. Snappy, yes. Laughs, no.
  6. Reviewed by: Clifford Terry
    Feb 5, 2014
    Routed as the most promising new series on the woeful CBS fall schedule, Designing Women disappoints. Already tiresomely pegged as a younger version of "The Golden Girls," it seems more like "The Carping Capitalists." [29 Sept 1986, p.7C]
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 0 out of
  2. Mixed: 0 out of
  3. Negative: 0 out of