Monday, March 30, 2009

Design time

Have you all just gone and completely lost your minds? That's right, The Terminator is back. No, not Ah-nold. Or Kristiana. Or even Summer. We're talking about Julia, Julia Sugarbaker. Now, for the young'uns and uninitiated among us, this name will probably elicit a blank stare. But for those of us geriatric enough and in the know, this name elicits a heady mix of carnal and cerebral lust. You see, Julia was the original (albeit straight) Alpha Bette, minus the fidelity issues and plus a Southern accent.

So, then imagine my delight when I heard the Julia & Co. were finally coming to DVD on May 26. Shout! Factory, the fine folks who put out the fabulous new “My So-Called Life” DVD set in 2007, are giving the first season of “Designing Women” the box set treatment it deserves, complete with an extra reunion special featuring stars Delta Burke, Dixie Carter, Annie Potts, Jean Smart and series creator Linda Bloodworth-Thomason.

I watched “Designing Women” obsessively in college courtesy the wonder that was seemingly non-stop repeats on Lifetime, television for women. Like a younger, sassier, Southerner “Golden Girls,” the show was wonderful for so many reasons. What I loved most about “Designing Women” – besides, of course, its portrayal of close, loving and rich female friendships – was that it played with our preconceived notions of the Southern Belle. Sure, Julia, Suzanne, Mary Jo and Charlene were all archetypes, but they worked hard not to fall into stereotypes. They never shied away from controversy: racism, sexism, homophobia, you name it. And, lordy, they were funny. And fabulous. And fierce. But none were fiercer than Julia. A look at some of The Terminator's greatest hits.

The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia


As God Is My Witness


I Suggest You Try Finding Yourself an Oyster


If God Was Giving Out Sexually Transmitted Diseases


History Has Shown

p.s. This one isn't The Terminator, but it does include my favorite fictitious store name of all time: Georgia Tent & Awning.

26 comments:

RHEA said...

I had never thought of it before, but you're so right...Julia really is the original Alpha Bette.

Not too be confused with the alphabet :D

(my excuse is that it's 5:20am where I live and I haven't been to bed yet)

K. Esse said...

Oh, she really is the original Bette. And I am just.... I'm losing my little fangirlish self over this. I cannot *wait* to own these.

jennifer from pittsburgh said...

I watched DW in real time, that's how old I am ;) When Suzanne got the pig, Noel, comedy hit a whole new high for me.

Dianna said...

Thank you!!

Bets said...

Wow, hadn't thought of that either! She really is the original Alpha Bette! I forgot how much I loved this show! My mom and I used to watch this show together and when I saw Julia Sugarbaker, my first thought was, "THAT was the NIGHT (pause for dramatic effect) THE LIGHTS (pause) WENT OUT (pause) in GEOR-GIA!!!

scully said...

Thank you for this. I wish there was something like this on TV now. If only The L Word had DW's writers.

The clips are fantastic. I still use a line from Julia when talking about politics: "I pray that people with power will get good sense and people with good sense will get power."

alice said...

I *love* DW. My friend Heidi and I would watch it all the time in high school (thank you, lifetime!) and we spent many a study hall reciting the best lines. The night the lights went out in Georgia? I was reciting along with it, still! Considering how few other things I remember that clearly from back then, it's a true testament to DW's writing.

Anonymous said...

One of my first crushes was on Julia Sugarbaker, and I always saw her in "Bette," too. Thank you for this fabulous retrospective.

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Anna said...

Now for comparison, Snarker, shouldn't you give us a nice compilation of Bette moments?

pretty please?

shelly said...

Oh, God, I forgot how much I loved that show. Thanks for that.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. Some of my favorite clips. And though I never thought about it before Dixie could actually play Jennifer's mother on TV or in a movie. They have a similar look.

Kathryn said...

Well said, Dorothy! Julia Sugarbaker was one of my first crushes, right up there with Murphy Brown...alpha women are le sigh.

Amanda said...

Who are these people and why are they dressed so 80's?? Ahhhh. I was born in '89. *blank stare*

Amanda

G Funk said...

I remember watching this! I LOVED this show! Soooooo the first Alpha Bette!!

barbie said...

god you are clever-bette wishes she could be as lovely and sophisticated as ms. sugarbaker (that name kills me with happiness). thanks for the trip down memory lane

C said...

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for the Designing Women shout out! This was by FAR one of the most influential shows of my youth - and Julia was by far a role model that I look up to to this day (What Would Julia Do?)!

Anonymous said...

My all-time fave DW plotline: the "revenge of the big dumb girls" in "La Place sans Souci" when Suzanne memorizes all the answers to Trivial Pursuit.

Classic!

bisquiat said...

Love that Annie Potts. And Alice Ghostly always had me Lizzing.

Penny Cillin said...

I love love love Designing Women. I adore Julia Sugarbaker, especially when she gets all fired up. I remember just being in complete awe of her intellect and sass. Pretty sure she was my first crush, which makes sense...brunette, articulate, hot, bossy....

Norma Desmond said...

This totally made my day.

Smadraji said...

Nice Posting
Gay

wyrmoftheflame said...

Julia + Mary Jo = Tibette?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYIzGl1m-L4

As soon as Dorothy mentioned a connection between Julia Sugarbaker and Alpha Bette, I can't watch DW without imaging it's an episode of The L Word!
xxx
Wyrm

Anonymous said...

I've never seen DW but Liz Lemon quotes it so I'm thinkin' it's a bandwagon I should jump on.

Rad-a-two-ee said...

For REALS. The hair, the attitude, the poofy sleeves. I'd like to think Julia had more self control than poor Bette, but that is truly a deft comparison. <3 snarker.

Ordy said...

I loved Designing Women.

Georgia tent and Awning is a real (Atlanta-based) company though. :-)