We were flipping through Amazon Prime Video when a curious suggestion came up on the screen. Amazon’s algorithm thinks we should be watching “Women Of The House”, the 1995 follow-up series to “Designing Women”. This show follows the adventures of Suzanne Sugarbaker as she takes her fifth husband’s seat in Congress until Georgia can elect a new representative. Naturally, one would think hilarity ensues.
Let me assure you, it does not.
It made it 13 episodes before it was cancelled. The last four episodes were broadcast on Lifetime, the show having been cancelled by CBS.
Earl and I watched the two-part pilot. We barely made it through the 42 minutes.
The character of Suzanne Sugarbaker has always been written a little over the top, but in this thing she’s way, way out there. She shrieked “Excuse Me!”, try to get someone’s attention, a few times during the first five seasons of “Designing Women”. In the pilot she does it at least half a dozen times and it doesn’t garner any laughs. There’s also some glaring inconsistencies in her timeline: her maid is now named Sapphire instead of Consuela, and she suddenly has a younger brother she calls “retarded”. He is played solely for laughs in the pilot. Suzanne now also has an adopted daughter because like “Golden Palace”, all spin-offs from popular sitcoms in the mid 1990s apparently needed to have a cheeky kid.
Teri Garr plays a spin on Patsy Stone from “Absolutely Fabulous”, under the guise of being a press secretary, Patricia Heaton is some sort of whacked out, super aggressive, yet completely devoid of class and charm version of Dixie Carter’s Julia Sugarbaker and the third actress plays an administrative assistant that must have been inspired by Julie Haggerty’s flight attendant on “Airplane”, minus the chuckles. And in some unexplained twist, they CGIed Jimmy Stewart’s “Mr. Smith” into the Congressional Chambers and since it was 1995, it wasn’t very convincing.
While “Designing Women” was fairly topical, especially in it’s early years, I have no idea what this show was trying to do. Delta wasn’t handed a very good script but she screams her way through every line and admittedly, it was very tough trying to get through the pilot.
If Amazon suggests “Women Of The House” for your viewing pleasure, don’t bother. Take the time to look at one of the early topical episodes from “Designing Women” instead. You’ll have a much better viewing experience.