I want to be Julia Sugarbaker when I grow up

My latest binge-fest has been Designing Women. I’m making my way through the 80’s – Golden Girls was last month’s infatuation. I never got to watch these shows when I was a kid because we were limited to one tv show per week, and we picked The Cosby Show. Needless to say, I just don’t get the same warm fuzzies now thinking about Bill Cosby that I did as a kid.

When I was in college, reruns of Designing Women and Golden Girls got me through the afternoons when I wasn’t in class or working at Blockbuster Video. Both shows addressed some very heavy topics like gender equity, gay and lesbian relationships, homelessness, AIDS, race relations, and these topics are still relevant in 2020, if somewhat dated with the language and context. I loved that Designing Women was set in Atlanta, and they mentioned landmarks, streets and the Atlanta Braves. I loved each of the characters in the show, but most of all, I looked forward to Julia Sugarbaker’s rants.

You see, I always wanted the ability to go off on rants like Julia did, and to put people in their place when they wronged someone else or did something for entirely the wrong reason(s). I admired the integrity, wit and realism of the character, and I still wish I had her zingers in my back pocket when I encounter those situations myself. So here’s some of my favorite rants in a Youtube collage:

Season 3, Episode 2: The Candidate

I think this clip could be replayed many times during this election year.

“One of the things I pray for is that people with power will get good sense, and the people with good sense will get power, and that the rest of us will be blessed with the patience and the strength to survive the people like you in the meantime!”

Season 1, Episode 2: The Beauty Contest

I have an older sibling like Suzanne does, and we have our differences, but I still admire my big brother, and know that he will defend me just like Julia does here.

“Suzanne was not just any Miss Georgia, she was THE Miss Georgia. She didn’t twirl just a baton. That baton was ON FIRE. And when she threw that baton into the air, it flew higher, further, faster than any baton has ever flown before, hitting a transformer and showering the darkened arena with sparks. When it finally did come down, my sister caught that baton, and 12,000 people jumped to their feet for 16 and a one half minutes of uninterrupted, thunderous ovation as flames illuminated her tear-stained face. And that, Marjorie, just so you will know, and your children will someday know, is the NIGHT THE LIGHTS WENT OUT IN GEORGIA!”

Season 1, Episode 12: Old Spouses Never Die: Part 1

As the daughter, sister, niece and cousin of doctors, and a former healthcare marketing professional, this episode hit me hard. I know there are plenty of great doctors out there, but I’ve also seen and heard of doctors that don’t look out for the best interests of their patients. I hope that anyone who has concerns about their health always gets a second opinion, or has someone like a Julia Sugarbaker to look out for them. A doctor that is competent and respected won’t have to tell you about his qualifications like this man did. Their patients will do it for them.

“You don’t depend on medicine. Your weapon is intimidation. You’re a seemingly kind, benevolent authority figure who tells women to let YOU do their worrying for you. Well there’s just one thing wrong with that. YOU don’t have to do the dying.”

Season 2, Episode 4: Killing All the Right People

This was one of the episodes that is still timely, but parts of the dialogue did not age well. No matter, I hope that the characters’ defense of their gay client opened the eyes of people to the AIDS crisis and that sexual relationships were not limited to just the opposite sexes. As Julia says, “You just have to find something that inspires you.”

“The only thing worse than all these people who have never had morals before AIDS are all you holier than thou types who you think you’re exempt from it.”

“If God was giving out sexually transmitted diseases to people as a punishment for sinning, then you would be at the free clinic ALL THE TIME, and so would the rest of us!”

Being a New Orleans native, I love how so many people assume that the city is all just debauchery and tawdriness. Okay, maybe just The Quarter, and a few sketch parts of Metairie.

“I have witnessed every debauchery allowed under the Napoleonic code. Drunken men aberated before me in lamp shades. Girls in bikinis have thrust their samples in my face. I have been the only person in this entire city who has maintained even one semblance of decorum, and you are now telling me to keep my voice down!”

“I’m going to go sleep in Anthony Bouvier’s room. I am white, he is black. We are not engaged, and he is significantly younger than I am. Put that in your etouffe and chug on it!”

Season 2, Episode 22: Reservations for Eight

Tell it, Julia!

“We women haven’t had enough power or money or confidence to start much of anything, but we sure as heck get the blame for everything. I’ll tell you something else! I love men, and in particular, I love this one. But you cannot ignore history, and history has shown that in general, it has been the men who have done the raping and the robbing and the killing and the warmongering for the last 2,000 years. It has been the men who have done the pillaging and the beheading and the subjugating of whole races into slavery. It has been the men who have done the lawmaking, and the moneymaking, and most of the mischief making, so if the world isn’t quite what you had in mind, you have only yourselves to thank!”

Season, Episode: Marriage Most Foul

This clip may be even more relevant in 2020 than it was in 1991 when Trump called off his wedding to Marla Maples (and eventually married her in 1993 before divorcing in 1999).

“On behalf of the American public — Mr. Trump, we no longer care who you date, we really don’t. You are no longer obligated to alert the news media every time your pants are on fire because we don’t care. So please feel free to fire all your hacks, flacks and publicists employed for this purpose because, and I repeat, WE DON’T CARE! Who am I? Well, you’ve never met me, but you can just call me….The Julia.”

Season 5, Episode 4: Miss Trial

You know how you’re supposed to keep your friends close and your enemies closer? Well, Julia doesn’t just go after her enemies. Her friends get some of the wrath too!

“If I miss my dinner with Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter because of this, you gonna pay and pay big. I’m gonna find you and hunt you down like a dog. I’m talkin about you runnin through the woods with bloodhounds ripping your clothes off. And remember Charlene, I have your address. You’d be wise to ask yourself, ‘do I know where your baby is?'”

Season 1, Episode 1: Designing Women

Designing Women started with several classic lines in its very first episode… including Suzanne’s “I don’t mean that bitchy” line, and these from Julia:

“Forgive my stupidity, but just exactly how does one make that jump from the stirrups in a doctors office to a booth and TGI Fridays?!”

“Suzanne, if sex were fast food, there’d be an arch over your bed.”

Season 3, Episode 4: Getting Married and Eating Dirt

“I have been a Southerner all my life, and I can vouch for the fact that we do eat a lot of things down here. We’ve certainly all had our share of grits, and I’m sure that there are no self respecting Southerners anywhere who haven’t consumed at least several tons of their mama’s biscuits and gravy. I myself have probably eaten enough fried chicken to feed a third world country, not to mention barbecue, cornbread, watermelon, fried pies, okra, and yes, if I were being perfectly candid, we have eaten our share of crow. And for all I know, during the darkest leanest years of the Civil War, some of us may have had a Yankee or two for breakfast. Speaking for myself, and hundreds of thousands of my Southern ancestors who have evolved through the many decades of poverty, strife and turmoil, I would like for Mr. Weeks to know that we have surely eaten many things in the past, and we will surely eat many things in the future, but as God is my witness, we have never, I REPEAT, NEVER eaten dirt!”

I don’t know about you, but I’m hungry for some barbecue, cornbread, fried pies, watermelon, fried chicken, and biscuits and gravy. Hold the crow and Yankees though.

Season 5, Episode 4: Miss Trial

This is ANOTHER clip from this episode, but it was too good to not include. My AP Law teacher from high school may take issue with Julia trying to influence the jury, but this is fiction, right?

“We’ve been here almost three days, and apparently you people have nothing better to do then to sit around here hogging up the tax payers’ money, eating baskets of friend cheese, and staying at the Fair Price Motel. Which, I understand some of you think is the nicest place you’ve stayed in a while.”

“Well, let me tell you something, it is not the nicest place I’ve been in a while. And for your further information, I’m having dinner with a former president and first lady of the United States tonight, because we are all going to be out of here. And the reason we’re all going to be out of here, is that this case is very simple. Did any of you listen to the judge’s instructions? He practically told us to acquit. The case is frivolous! The defendant was not negligent. Case closed! Q.E.D.! Over and out! Hit the road Jack and don’t you come back no more, no more! Go up to the table and mark your ballets, and if you don’t mark them right, I’m going rip that fire extinguisher off the wall and blow your over-fed, under-read, simple- minded butts out onto the Fair Price Motel parking lot!”

Season 4, Episode 7: Bernice’s Sanity Hearing

I think this last one epitomizes the humor and reality of Designing Women and growing up in the South. You know we’ve all used a variation of the classic “we are proud of our crazy people” line to describe someone in our family, workplace or group of friends. Okay, just me?

“This is the South. We’re proud of our crazy people. We don’t hide them in the attic. We bring them right down to the living room and show them off. No one in the South ever asks if you have crazy people in your family. They just ask which side they’re on.”

“And which side are yours on, Mrs. Sugarbaker?”


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