Designing Women: The Complete Fifth Season

Designing Women: The Complete Fifth Season
One certainty about every episode of ersatz feminist comedy cum liberal propaganda hit Designing Women is that Julia Sugarbaker (Dixie Carter) will go on a two-minute rant about some sort of injustice or annoyance. Similarly, Charlene's (Jean Smart) misguided Christian morality will either get her into trouble or find her in a quandary, which will inevitably inspire a wallop of offensive commentary and impropriety on the part of Suzanne (Delta Burke), who will mix Conservative, pragmatic perspectives with racist comments about black delivery man Anthony (Meshach Taylor). Of course, in season five, Anthony is now a full partner of the Sugarbaker design firm, which doesn't really change the dynamic much, but he does wind up in Village People construction attire at a bachelor auction, where Suzanne implies that he collects Confederate memorabilia. Much like prior seasons, the light-hearted episodes about Bernice's (Alice Ghostley) cable access show or Julia's experience with jury duty stand out, holding up to this day as cleverly written situational comedy. Unfortunately, for every funny episode featuring inappropriate comments from Delta Burke there's a preachy one about infidelity, maternal longing or racial imbalances in the South that wax Full House with sanctimonious morality and twee melodrama. But at least Suzanne gets in trouble for putting on mascara while driving and Charlene buys a haunted house ― randomly returning to her old apartment two episodes later without explanation ― to keep things fun, which is a plus since this is the last season of the series actually worth watching. At the end of season five, Jean Smart quit the show and Delta Burke was fired for gaining too much weight, and reportedly being argumentative on set. This led to an awkward sixth season with Jan Hooks and Julia Duffy doing a sloppy job filling their shoes, which inevitably led to a ratings decline. No supplements are included with the box set, which is unsurprising given the limited financial prospects of a show like this on DVD. (Shout! Factory)