Women of the House
|This article relies too much on references to primary sources. (July 2009)|
|Women of the House|
The original cast of Women of the House
|Created by||Linda Bloodworth-Thomason|
|Written by||Linda Bloodworth-Thomason|
|Directed by||Harry Thomason|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||13|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Distributor||Sony Pictures Television|
|Original release||January 4, 1995 – September 8, 1995|
|Preceded by||Designing Women|
|Followed by||The Designing Women Reunion|
Women of the House is an American sitcom which was broadcast on CBS from January 4, 1995 to August 18, 1995 and the last four episodes were broadcast on the Lifetime network on September 8, 1995. It was a spin-off of Designing Women starring Delta Burke, who had reconciled with producers after a bitter, highly publicized, off-screen battle.
Suzanne Sugarbaker's latest husband has died, and as his widow, she assumes his political office for the remainder of his term. Washington, D.C. was ill-prepared for the outspoken, "big, dumb, hick beauty queen's" arrival to the United States House of Representatives, though she did form an unusual bond with then-current President Bill Clinton, who was frequently heard off-screen. Along with her, Suzanne dragged her mentally handicapped brother Jim (Jonathan Banks), her young, adopted daughter Desiree (Brittany Parkyn), and her oft-spoken of (but only once seen) maid, Sapphire Jones (Barbara Montgomery).
Teri Garr starred as Suzanne's press secretary Sissy Emerson, a washed up reporter who had turned to the bottle a few years earlier, but was starting to clean up her act. A pre-Everybody Loves Raymond's Patricia Heaton portrayed Natty Hollingsworth, Suzanne's snooty, conservative, anal-retentive, bun-wearing administrative assistant whose Congressman boyfriend was serving a prison sentence. Jennifer Malone (Valerie Mahaffey, Julie Hagerty), known to her co-workers as "Malone," was a vivacious, naive, frail housewife who was recently left by her husband, and whose children were tyrants. The years of sexual repression had taken its toll on Malone and she had begun to become obsessed with sex. Later seen in the cast was Lisa Rieffel as Veda Walkman, a ditsy Generation Xer who took an internship at the office. In more minor roles were William Newman as Dave, an older gentleman with bad arthritis who worked in the office and Adam Carl as Adam, another intern (which was not the same-named character Carl played in several episodes of Designing Women).
- Delta Burke as Suzanne Sugarbaker
- Terri Garr as Sissy Emerson
- Patricia Heaton as Natalie "Natty" Hollingsworth
- Valerie Mahaffey as Jennifer Malone (6 episodes)
- Lisa Rieffel as Veda Walkman (5 episodes)
- Jonathan Banks as Jim Sugarbaker
- Brittany Parkyn as Desiree "Desi" Sugarbaker
- William Newman as Dave
- Adam Carl as Adam
Notable guest stars
- Jamie Farr guest starred as himself in the episode "Guess Who's Sleeping in Lincoln's Bed?", and he gave a nod to the series M*A*S*H by appearing in drag. Amongst the writing staff of M*A*S*H was Women of the House writer/creator Linda Bloodworth-Thomason.
- Gerald McRaney made an appearance in "The Afternoon Wife", playing Suzanne's ex-husband, novelist Dash Goff, a character that originated on Designing Women. By this point, McRaney and series lead Delta Burke were married in real life.
- Meshach Taylor reprised his Designing Women role of Anthony Bouvier in the episode "Dear Diary".
- Susan Powter was initially announced as a cast member of the series. She finally showed up in Episode 12, "Dear Diary".
- Charles Frank appeared as the oft-spoken of Congressman Ed Sharkey in the final episode, "The Conjugal Cottage." Frank starred opposite Delta Burke and Dixie Carter in Linda Bloodworth-Thomason's 1982 sitcom Filthy Rich.
- Telma Hopkins starred as a wisecracking cop in the episode "The Conjugal Cottage".
- The episode "Women in Film" featured cameos by Loni Anderson, Brett Butler, Roseanne Barr, Rita Moreno, Marilyn Chambers, Marilyn McCoo, Deidre Hall, Elizabeth Ashley, Joan Van Ark, and Stefanie Powers.
Season 1 (1995)
|1||January 4, 1995||"Miss Sugarbaker Goes to Washington (1)"||Suzanne arrives in Washington to fill her husband's seat in Congress. She agrees to go on CNN's political Crossfire TV series, where she makes a fool of herself with her off-the-cuff comments.|
|2||January 4, 1995||"Miss Sugarbaker Goes to Washington (2)"||As a result of Suzanne's Crossfire appearance, she becomes involved in a scandal dubbed "Knickknack-Gate."|
|3||January 9, 1995||"Guess Who's Sleeping in Lincoln's Bed"||When the Clintons cancel their dinner engagement at the last moment, they invite Suzanne to stay at the White House. Once there, she promptly destroys the historic Lincoln Bed. Meanwhile, Malone begins obsessively sketching nude men. Guest-star Jamie Farr reunites with M*A*S*H writer Linda Bloodworth-Thomason.|
|4||January 11, 1995||"That's What Friends Are For"||Sissy finds herself homeless just as her deprecating rival comes to town. Meanwhile, Suzanne decides to write an article about the "inter-racial bond" she shares with her maid, Sapphire.|
|5||January 18, 1995||"Men Are Good"||Malone, who never dated anyone but her high school sweetheart, is asked out by a handsome widower.|
|6||January 25, 1995||"You Talk Too Much"||The staff convenes at Suzanne's house to randomly monitor violently monitor violence against women on television for an upcoming congressional hearing. Meanwhile Suzanne is trying to diet and Natty reports Sissy to the F.B.I.
|7||February 1, 1995||"Bad Girl"||Malone has a pregnancy scare, Suzanne arranges a meeting with Alaskan fishermen and Sissy sells obscene lingerie.|
|8||March 20, 1995||"The Afternoon Wife"||Suzanne becomes jealous when her ex-husband Dash (Gerald McRaney) flirts with all of her staffers. McRaney reprises his recurring role from Designing Women.|
|9||August 18, 1995||"Veda"||Young, sweet, bubbly, "potty-mouth" Veda Walkman joins the office on an internship and instantly annoys her co-workers. Meanwhile Sissy and Natty engage in practical jokes.|
|10||September 8, 1995||"Women in Film"||Suzanne's staff gathers to again to review violence against women on film for a congressional hearing. A bevy of female stars have cameos, speaking out against violent and exploitive films.
|11||September 8, 1995||"North to Alaska"||Suzanne, Sissy and Natty are sent to Alaska to investigate the spawning habits of salmon. The ladies are awed by the abundance of attractive, eligible bachelors, and they each wind up being bitten by the love bug.
|12||September 8, 1995||"Dear Diary"||Congresswoman Kirby Seizmore Susan Powter) from the Ethics Committee launches an investigation into Suzanne's activities, so Suzanne turns to visiting friend Anthony Bouvier to dispose of her diary. Meshach Taylor reprises his role from Designing Women.|
|13||September 8, 1995||"The Conjugal Cottage"||Natalie becomes violently ill the same weekend that she's planned to spend with her imprisoned lover. Sissy takes her place to keep Ed (Charles Frank) from losing the privilege of the conjugal cottage. Meanwhile the ladies try out a line of indestructible pantyhose. Charles Frank reunites with his Filthy Rich co-star Delta Burke and writer Linda Bloodworth-Thomason.|
- Basic Instinct - The infamous scene with Sharon Stone's pantiless crotch is discussed in the episode "Women in Film."
- Boxing Helena - Suzanne launches into a rant about the film in the episode "Women in Film", referring to it as "Waltzing Matilda."
- Crossfire - Suzanne appears on the political talk show in "Miss Sugarbaker Goes to Washington".
- Deliverance - The film is referenced in the episode "Bad Girl"; the infamous rape scene with Ned Beatty is discussed at length in the episode "Women in Film".
- Driving Miss Daisy - In the episode "That's What Friends Are For", Suzanne writes an article about the interracial bond she shares with her maid, tentatively titled "Driving Miss Suzanne." A few other references to the film appear in the episode.
- Forrest Gump - Referenced as the number one film in America in the episode "Women in Film"; in the episode "North to Alaska", Suzanne says she was distracted while watching the film and didn't hear the final word in the line "Life is like a box of chocolates."
- Inspector Morse - The plot of an episode is discussed in the episode "You Talk Too Much".
- M*A*S*H - Jamie Farr guest-stars as himself in "Guess Who's Sleeping in Lincoln's Bed?", and he ultimately gets into drag.
- Mr. Smith Goes to Washington - Referenced numerous times in the episode "Miss Sugarbaker Goes to Washington".
- Nine 1/2 Weeks - The film is discussed at length in the episode "Women in Film".
- Sonny Bono - In the episode "Women in Film", Suzanne is jealous that Senator Bono was awarded "Best Buns" in a superficial 'best and worst of Washington' article.
- Bill Clinton - Mentioned in many episodes, heard off-screen at times.
- Hillary Clinton - Numerous references throughout the series.
- Newt Gingrich - The butt of jokes in many episodes.
- Jesse Helms - A plot in "You Talk Too Much" finds Sissy pulling a prank on Natty by saying she spit in Senator Helms's soup. When Helms is rushed to the hospital under mysterious circumstances, Natty reporters Sissy to the F.B.I..
- James Stewart - Referenced numerous times in "Miss Sugarbaker Goes to Washington".
Mill Creek Entertainment had secured the rights to the complete series, which was slated to be released on DVD in early 2011. In April 2011, it was announced that the DVD release has been cancelled due to "issues surrounding the source material delivery."  No further information regarding the status of the source material has been released, and according to Mill Creek, the DVD's removal from the release schedule is "permanent."
- "Women of the House DVD News". TVShowsOnDVD.com. October 15, 2010. Retrieved October 16, 2010.
- "Women of the House - Mill Creek's Planned DVD Release is Off the Schedule". TVShowsOnDVD.com. April 19, 2011. Retrieved April 19, 2011.
- Women of the House at Designing Women Online
- Women of the House at the Internet Movie Database
- Women of the House at TV.com
- Women of the House Magazine
- Jump The Shark – Women of the House