How well do you remember "Designing Women"?

By: Abi Luftig
Image: CBS

About This Quiz

For seven seasons, audiences tuned in to watch the witty, heartwarming, and socially poignant adventures of the ladies (and gent) of "Designing Women." It went off the air in 1993, but many still remember details of the show fondly. Test your knowledge here!

What is the name of the business?

"Designing Women" debuted in 1986, along with 24 other series launched by major TV networks. When the series ended in 1983, it was the only one of that 25 to still be on the air.

The show is set in which city in Georgia?

The series is set in Atlanta, Georgia and the office/Julia's home is supposedly found at 1521 Sycamore. However, the house is really located at 1321 Scott Street in Little Rock, Arkansas. It is The Ville Marre, a Victorian mansion listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

What is the show's theme song?

There are many versions of this classic song, and "Designing Women" used two of them as the show's theme song. Seasons 1-5 used a version recorded by Doc Severinsen, and seasons 6 and 7 used the more recognizable version recorded by Ray Charles.

Which two original characters are related?

Julia is Suzanne's older sister. They disagree on the age difference between them since Suzanne doesn't want to admit her real age.

What is Suzanne’s maid's name?

Suzanne is never short on stories to tell about her wacky maid, Consuela Valverde. Consuela was from San Salvador and her family worked in the meat-packing industry. She was not played by anyone, because while mentioned frequently, Consuela never appeared on screen.

What is the name of the main male character who works at Sugarbaker's?

Anthony Bouvier, played by Meschach Taylor, was only meant to appear in one episode. However, the script was still being completed at the time of rehearsal, so Taylor was told to improvise with the cast. The producers were so impressed with his skills and the natural chemistry of the ensemble that they made him a recurring, and eventually regular, character.

Which is NOT one of the original four ladies?

The original characters were Mary Jo Shively (Annie Potts), Charlene Frazier (Jean Smart), Julia Sugarbaker (Dixie Carter), and Suzanne Sugarbaker (Delta Burke). Show creator Linda Bloodworth-Thomason had these four actresses in mind from the beginning, having previously worked with them. She knew Burke and Carter from a series called "Filthy Rich," and Potts and Smart from an episode of a show called "Lime Street."

Which character was most likely to launch into a monologue?

Julia Sugarbaker is known for her impassioned and well-spoken liberal monologs​. However, Dixie Carter, a lifelong registered Republican, often had reservations about the things her liberal counterpart was being asked to say. She eventually struck a deal with the producers: for every rant Julia delivered, Dixie (a trained singer) would get to sing on camera in a later episode.

How did Anthony refer to his time in jail?

Anthony often referred to events that took place "at the time of my unfortunate incarceration." Meshach Taylor (Anthony) continued to act in sitcoms. He played Shel Baylor in "Dave’s World" and Mr. Wright in "Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide." He died of cancer on June 28, 2014, at the age of 67.

What is the name of the old family friend who hangs around the Sugarbaker gang?

The kooky and loveable Bernice Clifton was played by Tony-award winning actress Alice Ghostley. Ghostly played a variety of roles in her long and impressive career, including Mrs. Murdock in "Grease," Esmerelda on "Bewitched," and Aunt Stephanie Crawford in "To Kill A Mockingbird." She died September 21, 2007, from colon cancer and a series of strokes.

What is the retirement home where Bernice lives (and often escapes from)?

Bernice was supposed to live at the Hillcrest Leisure Land retirement community but often escaped, much to the dismay of her younger friends. According to U.S. News & World Report, there are 109 nursing homes in the Atlanta area. None of them are named Hillcrest.

Charlene eventually moved to England where her Air Force husband was stationed. She arranged for her job to be filled by whom?

Carlene Frazier Dobber, played by the late Jan Hooks, was brought in to replace Charlene. In reality, Jean Smart left the show because she wanted to spend more time with her infant son, which she felt she couldn’t do while keeping up with the demanding schedule of shooting a sitcom.

What other three sisters did Charlene and Carlene often speak of as a trio?

In an early episode, the ladies meet a man named Ray Don, who mentions having a sister named Carlene. Charlene replies that she has sisters named Marlene, Harlene, and Darlene. She conveniently doesn’t mention her other sister Carlene, who eventually takes over her job at Sugarbaker and Associates.

When Suzanne moved to Japan, her stock in the business was bought by whom?

Delta Burke left the show due to allegations of emotional abuse by the cast and crew. The writers created the previously unknown cousin Allison, who left the South at a young age to move up North. Allison, played by "Newhart" alum Julia Duffy, was created to be the opposite of Suzanne, but audiences found her unlikable and she was written off after one season.

What are Mary Jo’s kids' names?

Mary Jo often discussed her children with her coworkers, and their lives had a tendency to factor into the plot of the episode, such as Claudia (Priscilla Weems) beginning to date, or Quinton (Brian Lando, Robert Hy Gorman) getting into trouble.

Who is the gun owner in the group?

Suzanne was a proud gun owner. She originally purchased a large semi-assault rifle but returned it after accidentally firing it at the Sugarbaker ladies. She trades it for a small handgun, which ends up being dangerous for the group as well.

What is the name and breed of Suzanne’s pet?

Consuela's family, who work in the meat packing industry, gives a miniature pig to Suzanne as a gift. Miniature pigs are known to make wonderful pets, as they are remarkably intelligent. The Animal Rescue League of Boston adopted a Yucatan miniature pig as its unofficial mascot.

What happens to Anthony the night before his college graduation?

Suzanne breaks into Julia's house to steal answers to a Jeopardy game Bernice had bought. Unbeknownst to her, Anthony also stops by, and Suzanne shoots him in the leg, thinking him to be a burglar. On the bright side, it's a smaller weapon than the semi-assault rifle she accidentally fired at Julia, Mary Jo, and Charlene. On the other hand, the smaller gun probably meant she could aim better. But all was well that ended well as Anthony still crossed the stage in style!

Where is Charlene from?

Charlene often talks about her hometown of Poplar Bluff, Missouri. In reality, Jean Smart was the only female lead not from the South, instead hailing from Seattle, Washington. Dixie Carter was from McLemoresville, Tennessee. Annie Potts was born in Franklin, Kentucky, and Delta Burke grew up in Orlando, Florida.

Charlene’s best friend from high school moves to Atlanta and they reconnect. Charlene is shocked to discover that her friend has become what?

Charlene and Monica reminisce about their days at Poplar Bluffs High School before Charlene discovers Monica has changed her name to Monette and opened a brothel in Atlanta. During their remembrances of days gone by, we learn that their high school team was the Poplar Bluff Mules and their mascot was a jackass.

In the poignant episode "Killing All The Right People," Sugarbaker's is asked to design the funeral of a close friend, just as Mary Jo is roped into a PTA debate about what hot topic?

The title of this episode has a grim origin. Series creator Linda Bloodworth-Thomason was writing a script for "Designing Women" while keeping a bedside vigil for her dying mother, who had contracted AIDS through a contaminated blood transfusion. Bloodworth-Thomason was appalled by the way hospital staff and family members treated patients with AIDS, especially when she overheard a woman in the hallway comment, “If you ask me, this disease has one thing going for it. It’s killing all the right people.”

What is the name of Julia and Suzanne’s half brother?

Julia and Suzanne are eventually revealed to have a half brother named Clayton, who was born between them. As the story goes, Clayton's mother was a Rockette named Dee Dee, with whom Mr. Sugarbaker "had a dalliance." To preserve Dee Dee and Clayton's honor, Mr. Sugarbaker divorced Julia's mother, Perky, and married Dee Dee until Clayton was born, therefore making his birth "legitimate." The patriarch then divorced Dee Dee, remarried Perky, and fathered Suzanne. This is also used to help explain the age gap between the sisters.

Julia gets offended by a sexist magazine cover in season 3 and demands the newsstand stop promoting its sale. When the owner refuses, how does Julia respond?

The episode is titled "Julia Runs Over The First Amendment," referring to The First Amendment expressly granting freedom of the press and freedom of speech. There has been a long-running battle of whether those freedoms extend to pornography and lewd material. There is no clause in the amendment regarding the right to run over a newsstand.

Bernice's niece, Phyllis, tries to get her declared legally insane. It does not go as intended. How does Julia sum up the ruling of Bernice’s sanity hearing?

The judge hearing the testimony is exposed to a lot of typical "Designing Women" behavior at the sanity hearing, such as Mary Jo teaching Charlene how to put on underwear when pregnant, Suzanne talking about another woman's breasts while repeatedly trying to pop her ears. The Sugarbaker crew also has to answer for sheep placenta facials, Consuela-made voodoo dolls, a framed picture of Noel the Pig, writing letters about sex offender astronauts to Dan Quayle, calling Dr. Ruth to correct her about sex organs, a maternity chair that makes frog noises, a piano with a news team painted on it, and a warning that "the bees are coming."

Fearing that her maid Consuela may be deported, who does Suzanne insist impersonate Consuela to attain citizenship?

As one of many indignities suffered at the hands of Suzanne, Anthony gets roped into impersonating Consuela at her citizenship exam. He becomes increasingly nervous, but eventually, ​passes the exam and "Consuela" becomes a citizen.

Julia calls up a newspaper editor and complains about his comment that Southerners eat what?

Julia in enraged at the statement that Southerners eat dirt and proceeds to launch into a typical Julia rant about all the things they DO eat, including grits, biscuits and gravy, fried chicken, barbecue, and maybe the occasional Yankee. While it is clear that Julia does not suffer from this disorder, the compulsion to eat dirt (or mud or clay) is known as geophagy.

According to Sugarbaker family lore, what is "the night the lights went out in Georgia"?

Julia sassily explains to a beauty queen that Suzanne was not Miss Georgia World, she was THE Miss Georgia World and proceeds to tell a story about how Suzanne threw a flaming baton into the air "higher, further, faster than any baton has ever flown before, hitting a transformer and showering the darkened arena with sparks...And that, Marjorie - just so you will know - and your children will someday know - is the night the lights went out in Georgia!" In reality, "The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia" was a song by Vicki Lawrence.

What singer does Charlene idolize?

Charlene is a lifelong fan of Elvis Presley, and in season 3 makes the ladies visit Graceland. They were among many, many visitors to the estate of the late singer. Graceland is the second most-visited house in America, having lost the top spot to The White House.

What does Julia say about having “crazy people” in your family?

When Bernice's niece, Phyllis, tries to get her committed, Julia explains that even if Bernice was crazy, she shouldn't get put away because, in the South, crazy family members are put out on display. Phyllis asks Julia which side of the family are her crazy relatives on and Julia calmly answers "both."

Why do Julia and Mary Jo dress up in Civil War attire?

The ladies discover that Sugarbaker's was built during the antebellum period and as such, it is placed on The Annual Tour of Homes as a historic monument. There are several home tours in the South, none of them officially called The Annual Tour of Homes. Most of them, such as the Kirkwood Tour and the Candler Park Tour, are neighborhood-centric, as Atlanta is too big to cover in one walking tour.

Who embezzled Suzanne’s money and bought her a circus?

Suzanne trusts her accountant, Reggie Mac Dawson, to invest her money, which he promptly embezzles and runs away. He later returns, claiming he used her money to buy her a circus (albeit with a bad check that inevitably bounced.)

What is the company for which Charlene works part time ​selling cleaning supplies?

In an attempt to earn some extra cash, Charlene becomes a "Junie" and sells Lady June cleaning supplies in an at-home-sales model similar to the Tupperware Parties of the time. This method of direct sales is known as a "party plan."

What did Mary Jo try to change about her body?

Mary Jo inherits some money from a deceased uncle, who specifies in his will that the money is to buy herself "something frivolous." She dabbles with the idea of getting a breast enlargement but ultimately decides against it. There are three main types of breast implants used for enlargement surgeries: silicone gel, saline solution, and composite filler.

To prove a point to Suzanne about how costume jewelry looks similar to "real" jewelry, Mary Jo steals a necklace from Suzanne, replaces it with a cheap fake, and then procedes to lose the real one in a salad bar. What type of necklace was it?

Mary Jo steals Suzanne's pearl necklace. Pearls are produced by the soft tissue of mollusks. Natural pearls are extremely rare and valuable since they do not occur often. The majority of commercially-sold pearls are "cultured" or "farmed" and come from pearl oysters and freshwater mussels.

Anthony often mentions his former cellmate, an inmate of whom he is afraid. Who is this inmate?

Anthony often recounts his fear of fellow inmate T. Tommy Reid. T. Tommy Reid appeared in three episodes and was played by M. C. Gainey, who played Tom Friendly in "Lost."

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