Designing Women

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Designing Women
Designing women cast 1986 1991.jpg
Original cast (1986–1991)
Created by Linda Bloodworth-Thomason
Opening theme "Georgia on My Mind"
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 7
No. of episodes 163 (list of episodes)
Camera setup Multi-camera
Running time 25 minutes
Production company(s) Bloodworth/Thomason Mozark Productions
Columbia Pictures Television
Distributor Columbia Pictures Television Distribution
Columbia TriStar Television
Sony Pictures Television
Original network CBS
Original release September 29, 1986 (1986-09-29) – May 24, 1993 (1993-05-24)
Followed by Women of the House (1995)

Designing Women is an American sitcom created by Linda Bloodworth-Thomason that aired on CBS from September 29, 1986, until May 24, 1993, producing seven seasons and 163 episodes. The comedy series Designing Women was a joint production of Bloodworth/Thomason Mozark Productions in association with Columbia Pictures Television for CBS.

The series centers on the lives of four women and one man working together at an interior designing firm in Atlanta, Georgia called Sugarbaker & Associates. It originally starred Dixie Carter as Julia Sugarbaker, president of the design firm; Delta Burke as Suzanne Sugarbaker, Julia's ex-beauty queen sister and the design firm's silent partner; Annie Potts as head designer Mary Jo Shively; and Jean Smart as office manager Charlene Frazier. Later in its run, the series received recognition for its well-publicized behind-the-scenes conflicts and cast changes. Julia Duffy and Jan Hooks replaced Burke and Smart for season six, but Duffy was not brought back for the seventh and final season, and she was replaced by Judith Ivey.


Julia Sugarbaker is introduced as an elegant, outspoken liberal intellectual middle-age widow. Her younger sister, Suzanne Sugarbaker, is a thrice-divorced, rich, flashy, often self-centered, former Miss Georgia World. They are constantly at personal odds, but have launched Sugarbaker and Associates Designs, an interior design firm, after the death of Julia's husband, Hayden McIlroy. Julia manages the company and is the firm's guiding force, while Suzanne is mostly a financial backer who simply hangs around and annoys everyone under the guise of being the firm's salesperson. However, she does bring in new customers on a regular basis through breakfast, lunch and dinner appointments.

The pragmatic designer Mary Jo Shively, a recent divorcee raising two children, and the sweet-natured but somewhat naïve office manager Charlene Frazier (later Stillfield) are initial investors and coworkers. Mary Jo and Charlene are long-time best friends (they were neighbors in Charlene's apartment building). Anthony Bouvier, a former prison inmate who was falsely convicted of a robbery, is the only man on the staff, and later in the series becomes a partner. Bernice Clifton (Alice Ghostley), an absent-minded friend of the Sugarbaker matriarch, also appears frequently.

Carter and Burke had both been members of the cast of the CBS sitcom Filthy Rich, which was written by Bloodworth-Thomason. Coincidentally, Potts and Smart guest-starred together in a 1985 episode of Lime Street, which was also created by Bloodworth-Thomason.

Although it was a traditional comedy, and often included broad physical comedy, Designing Women was very relevant (particularly in episodes written by Bloodworth-Thomason herself), and featured discussions of controversial topics such as homophobia, racism, dating clergy, AIDS, hostile societal attitudes towards the overweight, and spousal abuse. The episode "Killing All the Right People" from season two (1987) directly addressed the prejudice associated with the AIDS epidemic after Bloodworth-Thomason's mother died of the disease, and the episode received two Emmy nominations.

The program became noted for the monologues delivered by Julia in indignation to other characters, a character trait that began in the second episode, when Julia verbally castigated a beauty queen who had made fun of Suzanne. That speech, which Julia ends by emphatically saying, "And that, Marjorie, just so you will know, and your children will someday the night....the lights....went Georgia!" became a fan favorite. Dixie Carter, a registered Republican, disagreed with many of her character's left-of-center commentaries, and eventually made a deal with the producers that for every speech she gave, Julia would get to sing a song in a future episode.

Main cast[edit]

Main characters[edit]

Julia Sugarbaker[edit]

Julia is the president and owner of Sugarbaker and Associates Design Firm, located at her own Victorian house. Julia can best be described as a feminist who often espouses a liberal point of view. She is very quick to speak her mind, sometimes without knowing all the facts involved. Julia can be personified as a bold, independent, self-confident, no-nonsense, Southern woman who loves defends her old and sweet South. Her rapid-fire speeches and passionate beliefs earned her the nickname "The Terminator". She often quarrels with her sister Suzanne. Despite her disagreements with Suzanne, she often stands up for her against people who insult her. Early on in the series, she disagrees with her son, Payne, who dates an older woman. She was married to Hayden McElroy for several years, who died prior to the show's premier (in the 1986 debut episode, Hayden's death is described as having happened a year before, in 1985) after suffering several heart attacks. Julia has a romantic relationship with Reese Watson, also a widower, who is also known for putting her in her place. After Reese's untimely death during the fifth season, Julia tentatively begins dating again, eventually beginning a relationship with symphony conductor Phillip Russell Stuart during the show's final season. As the series progressed, Julia becomes a softer person. Though the most logical and sensible member of the group, Julia is occasionally convinced by the others to try something uncharacteristically silly (such as sticking her head through the banisters of the staircase in the Governor's Mansion), usually with disastrous results, but often, Julia was the one to convince the others to change their minds when they want to do something that can't be the right thing to do, or the most logical idea to do it. Carter is the only cast member to appear in all the episodes of the series (Potts was absent for only one). Although Delta Burke was the one who appears at first in the intro's credits (which credited the cast in alphabetical order) during its first five seasons, Carter's character has been the indicated as the main character of the show's plot during all seven seasons, which made Dixie Carter the main actress of the show.

Mary Jo Shively[edit]

Mary Jo is the main designer of Sugarbaker's. At the beginning of the series, the newly divorced Mary Jo is very shy, easily intimidated, and somewhat lacking in self-esteem. She and Charlene are described as close friends (after having been neighbors in the latter's apartment building). However, as the series progresses, she slowly becomes more independent and resourceful. Mary Jo is the mother of two children, Claudia and Quinton. With a sarcastic, and often self-deprecating sense of humor, she often pokes fun at the personal life stories told by Suzanne and later Allison. Somewhat inspired by Julia, she becomes more self-confident and also a bit more opinionated, and even supports a safe sex campaign at her daughter's school. Initially, it took Mary Jo a long time to start dating again after her divorce. Eventually, Suzanne sets her up with J.D. Shackelford, a talent scout for the Atlanta Braves, whom she sporadically dates through the show's first season. She often portrays a false persona of herself to impress old friends and clients. Throughout the course of the series, despite her off-again-on-again romance with J.D., Mary Jo is mostly unlucky in love. She sometimes goes to the extreme to impress a man, sometimes men in whom she does not have much interest. Several times over the course of the series, Mary Jo expresses feelings and actions signaling she is going through a mid-life crisis. Potts appeared in all but one episode.

Suzanne Sugarbaker[edit]

Suzanne, Julia's younger sister, is the often self-centered, somewhat silent partner of Sugarbaker's. She is a rich, flashy, beautiful dark-haired ex-beauty queen, who often denies her real age. Among her previous titles, she won the 1976 Miss Georgia World contest in Atlanta and was a contestant in the Miss America Pageant in either 1976 or 1977 as stated in the second-season episode "High Rollers" during a trip she, Charlene, and Anthony take to Atlantic City (Burke herself had been a contestant in the 1974 pageant). She is a divorcee with three previous husbands; two of them being Dash Goff(Gerald McRaney), a Southern writer, who was her first and one true love, and another being Jack Dent, who played for the Atlanta Braves and the third is J. Benton Stonecipher (unknown occupation). She has a Hispanic maid named Consuela. Though never herself appearing on-camera, Consuela's wild and crazy antics are usually revealed by Suzanne such as being into voodoo and her violent outbursts. Suzanne often shows disinterest in Anthony, but considers him one of her best friends and is often able to con him into doing things for her such as guarding her house during a rash of neighborhood robberies and teaching Consuela how to drive. Suzanne and Anthony eventually play foils to one another as the series progresses and find themselves in increasingly bizarre and comical situations such as in the season-four episode "Foreign Affairs", when Suzanne convinces Anthony to dress up as Consuela to fool immigration and gain citizenship status so she will not be deported. Suzanne also has a fascination with guns, owning several of them leading to a comical episode during season four when she accidentally shoots Anthony in the leg after mistaking him for a burglar the day before he is to graduate from college. In season one, she tried to adopt a foreign girl named Li Sing. Early on in the series, she gets a pet pig she names Noelle, which she treats as a human being, dressing her up, driving her around in her car, and taking her to the local Dairy Queen. Noelle, however, eventually runs away from her and never returns. In season four, Suzanne begins a battle with her weight after making an appearance at her class reunion. She misses a handful of episodes throughout seasons four and five, and makes her final appearance in the last episode of season five. In the first episode of season six, it is explained that Suzanne has left Atlanta to take a job in Japan to be closer to her mother, and she has sold her share in Sugarbaker's to her (and Julia's) cousin Allison. Had Burke continued with the series past season five, the Thomasons had stated a storyline involving Suzanne and Anthony eloping was to be in the works.

Charlene Frazier-Stillfield[edit]

Charlene is the office manager of Sugarbaker's. Sweet-natured, but often naïve, she is a tall blonde from Poplar Bluff, Missouri. Charlene reportedly never meets a stranger and is known for searching for the good in everyone. She remains in steady friendships with all of her coworkers (Mary Jo being her best friend from their time as neighbors), though her naïveté often results in quarrels with Julia and Suzanne. Charlene is very practical, but a dreamer. She dreamt as a child of being a preacher and is a long-running fan of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Dolly Parton. Though often guided by her psychic adviser, Charlene often finds herself in trouble while looking for a respectable man to date. She is often the target of con men. She has a short-lived romance with Shadow, a secret government agent, before romancing Mason Dudd, an overweight entrepreneur, who leaves her for Japan. Charlene meets her soul mate in widowed Air Force Colonel Bill Stillfield, whom she eventually marries. She gives birth to their daughter, Olivia, early in season four. In a dream, she was visited by entertainer Dolly Parton as Olivia's Guardian Movie Star, who confirmed to Charlene the gender and name of her child. When Bill is reassigned to England in early season six, Charlene turns over her job at Sugarbaker's to her sister, Carlene Dobber.

Anthony Bouvier[edit]

Anthony is the deliveryman of Sugarbaker's, who later becomes a partner of the design firm. Before coming to work at the Sugarbaker's, he had been raised by his grandmother, Dondi, after his mother, who was a drug addict, abandoned him. In the episode, "Papa Was A Rolling Stone", Anthony meets his biological father for the first time on his 30th birthday after the ladies hire a private investigator to find him. Anthony was unknowingly involved in a robbery of a local convenience store, which got him sent to prison. (The details behind his conviction and imprisonment are not made known—to the other characters or the audience—until fairly late in the series.) Anthony often discusses his "unfortunate incarceration", most of the time to explain his feelings and out of fear. His cellmate, T. Tommy Reed, often bullied him, but later returns as a changed man who wants to make Anthony his business partner. Anthony becomes involved in several tasks over the run of the series in an effort to improve his life. By the seventh season, Anthony is working hard to complete law school. Nonetheless, he soon takes a trip to Las Vegas after his fiancée dumped him. There, he wakes up to find he has married an alluring showgirl named Etienne Toussaint. By the end of the series, he has completed law school.

Allison Sugarbaker[edit]

Allison is Julia and Suzanne's cousin, who sweeps into Sugarbaker's at the beginning of the sixth season. Having purchased Suzanne's shares, Allison makes her petite but bossy and overbearing presence felt declaring that she has the controlling interest in the business. She also takes up residence in Suzanne's house, claiming that she holds the lease and plots to drive Anthony out of the house, despite the fact that he had been renting it since Suzanne left Atlanta. Her uncanny ability to alienate all those around her can be attributed to her Obnoxious Personality Disorder, and she enjoys an antagonistic relationship with Julia, Anthony and Mary Jo. Allison sometimes does demonstrate some self-awareness in admitting that she finds it difficult to form relationships with others. Initially presenting herself as a corporate dynamo who attended Wellesley College and was a friend of Marla Maples, it turns out that Allison has been fired from every job she has had, most notably working as a seeing-eye person for a wealthy blind lady in New York, who fired Allison after she found out that she had dyed her hair a horrible colour. Having testified against her former boss, Barry Bensfield (played by Julia Duffy's husband Jerry Lacy), which led to his imprisonment for insider trading, Allison is the victim of a revenge plot, when Barry arrives at Sugarbaker's asking her to marry him, only to leave her jilted. Allison does have her moments during her time at Sugarbaker's - paying for Carlene to go to college, dancing with a convict during a prison riot, dating Mary Jo's brother, bonding with girl scouts over manicures and pedicures, and she even once gets Julia to admit that some of her insights are correct. Despite this, Allison never really becomes one of the group. In the first episode of the seventh season, it is explained that Allison has left Atlanta, having taken her money out of Sugarbaker's to invest in a Victoria's Secret franchise.

Carlene Frazier Dobber[edit]

Carlene is Charlene's younger sister, who has moved to Atlanta for a fresh start after divorcing her husband Dwayne Dobber in Missouri. Carlene takes over the office duties at Sugarbaker's when Charlene moves to England. Lacking the worldliness of her sister, Carlene is a country girl at heart, with an almost childlike innocent way of looking at the world. Mary Jo strikes up a close sisterly friendship with Carlene, while Allison funds Carlene's college studies. When not imagining that she is the star of "the sitcom of her life", Carlene is also an aspiring songwriter and is often seen strumming on her guitar, but shows more enthusiasm than actual talent.

Bonnie Jean "B.J." Poteet[edit]

Bonnie Jean, or B.J., meets the girls at Sugarbaker's at the beginning of the seventh season when she calls to hire them to decorate her house just as Julia decides to go out of business. A warm-hearted Texan widow, B.J. was married to millionaire James Poteet and inherited his business, Poteet Industries, when he died of a heart attack. Despite winning Julia's shares of Sugarbaker's in a poker game, B.J. offers Julia a chance to win back her shares in a game of BlackJack. After realizing that B.J. let her win, Julia offers her a chance to buy into the business, saying that they need someone "with some air in her hair". B.J.'s willingness to invest in Sugarbaker's provides a much needed financial lifeline to the business after Allison's departure. Despite her millions, B.J. is a down-to-earth lady who is always tickled by life and by the people around her. She enjoys pushing other people's buttons, most notably Julia's liberal leanings, but always knows how to defuse a situation with her own brand of good-natured humor.


Bernice Clifton[edit]

Bernice (Alice Ghostley; seasons 1–7) is the absent-minded friend of Julia and Suzanne's mother, Perky, who brings her to join her daughters and friends for Thanksgiving during the first season. Bernice has an "arterial flow problem above the neck" as Perky describes, which causes her to make off-handed and outlandish comments from time-to-time. When Perky unexpectedly moves to Japan, the Sugarbakers become the overseer of Bernice, at the request of their mother. Bernice was married to Louis Clifton for many years, who had worked in a circus as a young man, billed as the "Dancing Fool". In season four, she fights off her carefree niece, Phyllis McGuire, who wants to place her in a sanitarium. Having never had her own children, Bernice often thinks of Anthony and the four ladies as her own. She has a humorous relationship with Suzanne, who nicknamed her "the little fruitcake". Bernice often believes several men have "the hots for her", though this is always proved to be false. Initially a recurring guest character, Bernice's appearances in the series become more frequent. Although she is never credited as a leading character, Bernice features in more episodes than Carlene, Allison or B.J.

Additional recurring characters[edit]

  • Attorney Reese Watson (played by Hal Holbrook; seasons 1–5) is Julia's boyfriend, a successful lawyer, and Dixie Carter's real-life husband. The character dies during the fifth season. (The character's death was necessitated by Holbrook's request to leave the show in 1990 to allow him to star in Evening Shade.)
  • J.D. Shackelford (played by Richard Gilliland; seasons 1–5) is Mary Jo's on-again-off-again boyfriend and the real-life husband of Jean Smart.
  • Dr. Theodore "Ted" Shively (played by Scott Bakula; seasons 1–3) is Mary Jo's ex-husband, who works as a gynecologist.
  • Payne McElroy (played by George Newbern; seasons 1–2, 4, & 6) is Julia's college-aged son.
  • Claudia Marie Shively (played by Priscilla Weems; seasons 1–4) is Mary Jo's teenage daughter, who Mary Jo spent a great deal of time educating about safe sex.
  • Quinton "Quint" Shively (played by Brian Lando; seasons 1–6) is Mary Jo's grade school-aged son.
  • Colonel Bill Stillfield (played by Douglas Barr; seasons 2–5) is an Air Force Colonel from an old-money family, and Charlene's boyfriend and later husband.
  • Dash Goff (played by Gerald McRaney; season 2) is a successful author and one of Suzanne's ex-husbands, having married her, by his own confession, specifically so that he could suffer enough to be a writer. (Gerald McRaney is the real-life husband of Delta Burke. The two first met when shooting "Dash Goff, The Writer," the episode in which the character of Dash Goff first appeared; before this, Burke herself had never married and rarely went on dates.) The character makes another appearance on Burke's short-lived 1994 sitcom spin-off, Women of the House.
  • Vanessa Hargraves (played by Olivia Brown; season 4) is Anthony's on-again, off-again girlfriend before his character marries Etienne.
  • Etienne Toussaint-Bouvier (played by Sheryl Lee Ralph; season 7) is Anthony's wife, who worked as a Las Vegas showgirl, which is where he met her.

Notable guest stars[edit]

Over the course of its seven seasons, Designing Women had a series of guest stars, including Tony Goldwyn, James Naughton, Dale Raoul, Jackée Harry, Mary Ann Mobley, and many others. Sherman Hemsley, Della Reese, Kim Zimmer, Marla Maples, Wendie Jo Sperber, Louise Latham, Mariann Aalda, Leann Hunley, Lewis Grizzard and Lloyd Bochner also guest-starred.

One of the most notable guest stars of the series was entertainer Dolly Parton, in the January 1, 1990, one-hour episode "The First Day of the Last Decade of the Entire Twentieth Century". She played Charlene's "Guardian Movie Star", who gives her advice and tells her the gender of her child in a legendary dream sequence. As reported in press releases, Parton herself requested that she guest star in the episode, simply because she was a long-time fan of the sitcom.


SeasonEpisodesOriginally airedNielsen ratings[1]
First airedLast airedRankRating
122September 29, 1986 (1986-09-29)May 11, 1987 (1987-05-11)N/AN/A
222September 14, 1987 (1987-09-14)March 28, 1988 (1988-03-28)N/AN/A
322November 14, 1988 (1988-11-14)May 22, 1989 (1989-05-22)N/AN/A
428September 18, 1989 (1989-09-18)May 21, 1990 (1990-05-21)2215.3
(Tied with Full House)
524September 17, 1990 (1990-09-17)May 13, 1991 (1991-05-13)1016.5
(Tied with The Golden Girls)
623September 16, 1991 (1991-09-16)May 4, 1992 (1992-05-04)617.3
722September 25, 1992 (1992-09-25)May 24, 1993 (1993-05-24)N/AN/A
R1July 28, 2003 (2003-07-28)N/AN/A

Filming locations[edit]

The exterior of the house seen in the series as the location of the Sugarbaker's design firm, a normal house with a front door with only two windows on both sides of the door, is located in the historic Quapaw Quarter district in Little Rock, Arkansas. Additionally, the home of Suzanne Sugarbaker seen in the series is the Arkansas Governor's Mansion, also in the Quapaw Quarter. Both homes are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


When the show debuted in CBS's Monday-night lineup in 1986, it garnered respectable ratings; however, CBS moved the show several times to other time slots. After dismal ratings in Sunday night and Thursday night time slots, CBS placed it on hiatus and was ready to cancel the show, but a viewer campaign saved the show and returned it to its Monday night slot. The show's ratings solidified, and it regularly landed in the top 20 rankings.[2] From 1989 through 1992, Designing Women and Murphy Brown (which also centered around a strong, opinionated female character) aired back-to-back, creating a very successful hour-long block for CBS, as both shows were thought to appeal to similar demographics. The show was a top 30 hit for three seasons, from 1989 to 1992, in which the 1989–1992 seasons made it the most successful of the time and helped CBS, which struggled in the ratings around the late 1980s.[3] However, with CBS's move of the show to Friday night in the fall of 1992, ratings plummeted and the show fell from 6th to 67th place. The show was cancelled in May 1993.

At first, CBS moved Designing Women to Saturday nights to compete against The Golden Girls, an NBC show that also revolved around four women. However, since The Golden Girls would always win in the ratings, CBS pushed Designing Women to Mondays.

Political views[edit]

Show creators Linda Bloodworth-Thomason and Harry Thomason were strong supporters of longtime friend and then-Democratic nominee for President of the United States, Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary. In one episode, Julia is stranded in the airport while attempting to attend Clinton's first inauguration. Additionally Charlene mentioned working for Clinton during his Arkansas governorship. Yet another Clintons-related joke was the introduction of the prissy character, Allison Sugarbaker, who makes it quite clear to the other "Designing Women" that she attended Wellesley College (Hillary's alma mater). One episode revolved around Julia running for commissioner, where she debates on television against a conservative candidate, to whom she eventually loses. In reality, Dixie Carter was a Republican who disagreed with some of the liberal views spouted by her onscreen character, although she did become a Clinton supporter.[4] She reached an agreement with the producers in which she was allowed to sing a song for every liberal "speech" her character made on the series.

Julia also expresses her admiration for former president Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, and is very upset in the episode, "Miss Trial", when her service for jury duty prevents her from attending a dinner with the Carters, who, like her, volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. She is later very flattered to discover the Carters have sent her flowers and rushes off to meet them for coffee.


The introduction of Judith Ivey on the series received a better reception[by whom?] than Julia Duffy's debut had a year earlier when the show was at its most popular, but despite this change, ratings soon plummeted in part due to a network decision to move the sitcom to Friday nights at 9:00. Only a few weeks into the show's seventh season on the "Friday night death slot", despite receiving no competition from the other networks, the series had drastically slipped from 6th to 67th place in the Nielsen ratings.

Designing Women was canceled in the spring of 1993, due to declining ratings and diminishing network interest. The hour-long final episode, "Gone with a Whim", aired on Monday, May 24. Only Dixie Carter and Annie Potts remained for the show's entire run. Carter appeared in all the show's episodes, while Potts appeared in all but one. In total, the series aired seven seasons and 163 episodes.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Category Recipient Result
1991 BMI Film & TV Awards BMI TV Music Award Bruce Miller Won
1992 Won
1987 Casting Society of America Artios Award for Best Casting for TV, Comedy Episodic Fran Bascom Nominated
1989 Nominated
1990 Nominated
Directors Guild of America Outstanding Directing – Comedy Series Harry Thomason (For episode "They Shoot Fat Women, Don't They?") Nominated
1991 GLAAD Media Awards Outstanding Comedy Episode Won
1990 Golden Globe Awards Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy Nominated
1991 Nominated
1987 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series Jack Shea (For episode "The Beauty Contest") Nominated
Outstanding Costume Design for a Series Cliff Chally (For episode "Oh Suzannah") Nominated
1988 Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series Linda Bloodworth-Thomason (For episode "Killing All the Right People") Nominated
Outstanding Editing for a Series - Multi-Camera Production Roger Bondelli (For episode "Killing All the Right People") Nominated
Outstanding Achievement in Hairstyling for a Series Judy Crown and Monique DeSart (For episode "I'll Be Seeing You") Won
1989 Outstanding Comedy Series Harry Thomason, Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, Pamela Norris, Tommy Thompson, Douglas Jackson, and David Trainer Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Meshach Taylor Nominated
Outstanding Costume Design for a Series Cliff Chally (For episode "Come On and Marry Me, Bill") Nominated
1990 Outstanding Comedy Series Harry Thomason, Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, Pamela Norris, Tommy Thompson, Douglas Jackson, and David Trainer Nominated
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Delta Burke Nominated
Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series Harry Thomason (For episode "They Shoot Fat Women, Don't They?") Nominated
Outstanding Editing for a Series - Multi-camera Production Judy Burke (For episode "The First Day of the Last Decade of the Entire Twentieth Century") Nominated
Outstanding Costume Design for a Series Cliff Chally (For episode "The Rowdy Girls") Nominated
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy Series or a Special Larry Lasota, Anthony Constantini, Doug Gray, and Rick Himot (For episode "Tornado Watch") Nominated
1991 Outstanding Comedy Series Harry Thomason, Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, Pamela Norris, Tommy Thompson, Douglas Jackson, and David Trainer Nominated
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Delta Burke Nominated
Outstanding Costume Design for a Series Cliff Chally (For episode "Keep the Home Fires Burning") Nominated
1992 Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Alice Ghostley Nominated
1990 Television Critics Association Outstanding Achievement in Comedy Nominated
2003 TV Land Awards Most Memorable Female Guest Star in a Comedy as Herself Dolly Parton Won
Favorite Guest Performance by a Musician on a TV Show Ray Charles Nominated
1987 Viewers for Quality Television Best Quality Comedy Series Won
Best Writing in a Quality Comedy Series Linda Bloodworth-Thomason Won
Best Directing in a Quality Comedy Series Jack Shea Won
1988 Best Quality Comedy Series Won
Best Supporting Actor in a Quality Comedy Series Meshach Taylor Won
Best Writing in a Quality Comedy Series Won
Best Directing in a Quality Comedy Series Won
1989 Best Quality Comedy Series Won
Best Actress in a Quality Comedy Series Delta Burke Nominated
Dixie Carter Nominated
Annie Potts Nominated
Best Supporting Actor in a Quality Comedy Series Meshach Taylor Won
Best Writing in a Quality Comedy Series Won
Best Directing in a Quality Comedy Series Won
1990 Best Quality Comedy Series Won
Best Actress in a Quality Comedy Series Delta Burke Nominated
Dixie Carter Nominated
Best Supporting Actor in a Quality Comedy Series Meshach Taylor Won
Best Supporting Actress in a Quality Comedy Series Alice Ghostley Nominated
Best Writing in a Quality Comedy Series Won
Best Directing in a Quality Comedy Series Won
1991 Best Quality Comedy Series Nominated
Best Actress in a Quality Comedy Series Delta Burke Nominated
Dixie Carter Nominated
Best Supporting Actor in a Quality Comedy Series Meshach Taylor Nominated
Best Writing in a Quality Comedy Series Nominated
Best Specialty Player Alice Ghostley Won
1992 Best Actress in a Quality Comedy Series Dixie Carter Nominated
1991 Writers Guild of America Episodic Comedy Linda Bloodworth-Thomason (For episode "The First Day of the Last Decade of the Entire Twentieth Century") Nominated
1994 Young Artist Awards Best Youth Actress Recurring or Regular in a TV Series Lexi Randall Nominated

DVD releases[edit]

Shout! Factory has released all seven seasons of Designing Women on DVD in Region 1.[5]

DVD name Ep # Release date
The Complete First Season 22 May 26, 2009
The Complete Second Season 22 August 11, 2009
The Complete Third Season 22 March 2, 2010
The Complete Fourth Season 29 September 14, 2010
The Complete Fifth Season 24 December 6, 2011
The Complete Sixth Season 23 April 3, 2012
The Complete Seventh and Final Season 22 July 17, 2012

On September 2, 2003, Sony Pictures released The Best of Designing Women, a single-disc DVD featuring five episodes ranging between seasons one through four: "Designing Women (Pilot)" (season 1), "Killing All the Right People" (season 2), "Reservations for Eight" (season 2), "Big Haas and Little Falsie" (season 3) and "They Shoot Fat Women, Don't They?" (season 4).

On September 28, 2010, Shout Factory released Designing Women, Volume 1, a single-disc DVD featuring seven episodes from the first season: "Designing Women (Pilot)", "A Big Affair", "Design House", "I Do, I Don't", "New Year's Daze", "Monette", "And Justice for Paul". Further selected episode volumes have yet to be announced.

On June 5, 2012, Shout Factory released Designing Women – 20 Timeless Episodes, aimed for casual fans to enjoy the series without buying full season sets. The 2-disc DVD set included the following episodes, ranging from seasons one through five: Disc 1 – "Designing Women (pilot)" (season 1), "New Year's Daze" (season 1), "Monette" (season 1), "Oh Suzannah" (season 1), "Ted Remarries" (season 2), "Killing All the Right People" (season 2), "Heart Attacks" (season 2), "Return of Ray Don" (season 2), "Big Haas & Little Falsie" (season 3), "The Wilderness Experience" (season 3). Disc 2 – "The Naked Truth" (season 3), "Stand & Fight" (season 3), "Nightmare from Hee Haw" (season 3), "Julia Gets Her Head Caught in a Fence" (season 4), "Julia & Suzanne's Big Adventure" (season 4), "Foreign Affairs" (season 4), "A Blast from the Past" (season 5), "And Now, Here's Bernice" (season 5), "This is Art?" (season 5) and "The Pride of the Sugarbakers" (season 5).


CBS ran reruns of the show in their daytime lineup at 10:00 a.m. (EST) from April 1991 to June 1992. Subsequently, Designing Women aired on the Lifetime cable network for over a decade. Despite its popularity, the show left the network on August 4, 2006. A 90-minute retrospective special, The Designing Women Reunion, aired on Lifetime on July 28, 2003, reuniting Burke, Potts, Smart, Carter and Taylor in which they shared memories from their time on the series, and also featured interviews with the Thomasons and various writers. Actors Alice Ghostley, Hal Holbrook, Gerald McRaney, and Richard Gilliland also took part in the special.

The series also aired on Nick at Nite beginning October 2, 2006; however, it quickly left and later appeared on its sister network TV Land, airing at various late-night and morning times occasionally until the network lost the rights to air the show in 2008. The series also aired on ION Television in 2007, Monday through Thursday at 7:00 & 7:30 pm ET.[6]

The program currently airs on the Comedy Gold (formerly TV Land Canada) in one-hour blocks every day at 11 am and 5 pm EST. TV Guide Network also began airing a one-hour block weekdays at 11 am EST in October 2011 and currently airs a two-hour block, weekdays from 3:00 pm (EST & PST) to 5:00 pm (EST & PST).

As of May 2014 reruns air on the LOGO network. In recognition of the show's 30th anniversary, GetTV began running "Designing Women" in June, 2017 with nightly blocks featuring 30 fan-favorite episodes. The show will go into a regular time slot after these 30 episodes. Also in June 2017, FETV is also showing reruns of the show.


  1. ^ Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle (2007). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows 1946-Present (Ninth Edition). Ballantine Books. p. 1692-1693. ISBN 978-0-345-49773-4. 
  2. ^ VIRGINIA ROHAN (April 14, 2002). "'Once & Again' won't be back". North Jersey Media Group. Archived from the original on June 10, 2007. Retrieved July 13, 2007. 
  3. ^ Brooks, Tim and Marsh, Earle, "The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable Shows 1946–present," 7th edition
  4. ^ "Star of TV's 'Designing Women'". Retrieved 2016-09-29. 
  5. ^ Designing Women: The Final Season: Dixie Carter, Annie Potts, David Trainer: Movies & TV. Retrieved on April 21, 2012.
  6. ^ ION Television July: Designing Women and Who's the Boss? Join Line-Up; Still Standing Joins Atlanta TBS; Network Notes. (June 8, 2007). Retrieved on April 21, 2012.

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