Growing up, I would always love watching Designing Women with my mom. I'd pretend to hate it, but in reality I loved not only the time I got to spend with my mom, but the entire show in general.
It was a pretty interesting concept. Four intelligent women who worked at an interior design company created an all-star comedy that dealt with the important issues. But even if you watched every single episode, there are some things you may not have known about Designing Women, including the potential for a reboot.
1. No Audition Necessary
Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, who created the show, wanted accurate portrayals of the sassy Southern women she was writing about. Immediately, Delta Burke, Annie Potts, Dixie Carter, and Jean Smart were on her mind. She had worked with all of the women on shows before, so there was no need for them to audition. They just had to agree.
2. Making An Impression
Even though now the show seems unfathomable without the character of Anthony Bouvier, he was actually only intended to have a single appearance. However, after some improvisation with the cast on set, it was clear that Meshach Taylor had chemistry with the women, so he became a recurring character. He was later bumped up to a series regular.
3. Mirror, Mirror
Dixie Carter was only 47 years old during the first season of the show, but after seeing the pilot she found herself looking older. In between season one and two, Carter decided to have work done.
“If this turns out to be my first big success, after all these years of performing, I couldn't bear to be identified as ‘the older one,'" she said.
4. Hard Issues
One thing people admired about Designing Women was their courage to tackle the hard issues that other shows wouldn't. In one episode, which was later nominated for an Emmy, Imogene made ignorant comments about gay people being the only ones to contract HIV/AIDS. Sadly, this scene was based off a real person whom Bloodworth-Thomson had overheard at the hospital.
Her mother had received a blood transfusion that was contaminated and was dying of AIDS, so she was by her side all the time. While she was at the hospital, she heard a woman say "If you ask me, this disease has one thing going for it. It’s killing all the right people.” After that comment, she knew she had to address the misconceptions surrounding the disease.
5. Political Bargaining
Carter, who played Julia Sugarbaker, was a proud Republican in real life, but her character was a devoted liberal who often went on extreme rants. Called her "terminator tirades," Sugarbaker was ready to defend anything she believed in. However, Carter often felt uncomfortable with these speeches because they did not reflect her personal convictions. As a compromise, for every time Carter had to speak on a topic she did not agree with, a scene would be written in a later episode where she got to showcase her vocal talents. Carter had years of vocal training, so this was an ideal compromise for her.
6. Set Drama
According to Delta Burke, Linda Bloodworth-Thomason and her husband Harry, who also produced the show, were walking nightmares. In an interview with Barbara Walters, Burke accused to Thomasons of terrorizing and manipulating her and her cast mates.
"I'm not hired to be terrorized or manipulated," Burke told Walters.
She claimed that Designing Women was not a happy workplace, and that Harry once locked her and her co-stars in a room to scream at them (though no other cast member has corroborated this).
But Burke wasn't helping her case on set, as she began showing up late (or not at all) for all times. Every script had to be written twice, one with her character and one without, just in case she decided not to show up. At the end of season, the cast was asked whether or not they wanted to keep working with Burke, and it was a resounding no. She was released from her contract.
7. Pregnancy Problems
In season six, Annie Potts was pregnant, but the producers didn't want that to be written into the show. Mary Jo, Potts's character, would have been a single mom, and they didn't think it would work on the show. Potts was left to hide behind furniture and wear over-sized clothing to hide her growing pregnancy.
The producers had contemplated writing it in, and tested the waters with Mary Jo visiting a sperm bank as she longed for a baby. But ultimately they decided it wouldn't work. Murphy Brown was already exploring the world of single motherhood, and they didn't want to seem as though Designing Women was jumping on that bandwagon.
Ultimately, the show was cancelled after seven seasons, but die hard fans still feel like they want more. Luckily, Annie Potts gave an interview that could point to that happening.
Annie Potts, who currently stars in Young Sheldon gave an interview in Entertainment Weekly where she discussed the potential of a Designing Women reboot.
“I would love that,” Potts said. “I don’t know when I’d find the time for it, but I think that they could use a show like Designing Women — feisty smart women that didn’t take any B.S. from anybody.”
Currently, Roseanne has given a new reputation to rebooted shows, which had previously been seen as gimmicky. The family sitcom has come back with monster ratings, and has even taken a political stand. Potts says that makes it the perfect climate for Designing Women to come back.
“Every Monday night was a MeToo moment for us, and we were talking about it; we were very political,” Potts said. “I’m sad that there’s not such a strong voice, I don’t think, in any singular show. Nobody is doing what we did then. So yeah, if [creator Linda Bloodworth-Thomason] wanted to write six episodes and do it in my hiatus, I would be there in a minute.”
Sadly, the show would have to be reworked a little, as both Dixie Carter and Meshach Taylor have passed away since the show ended. That being said, it's certainly not impossible.