In the first episode of Designing Women, Julia Sugarbaker (Dixie Carter) introduces herself by dressing down Ray Don, a man who dared to insinuate himself into the dinner party she was having with her friends. “Read my lips and remember,” she says. “As hard as it is to believe, sometimes we like talking just to each other, and sometimes we like just being alone.” With those lines, it’s clear that Designing Women is not like any other show on TV.
Alongside Dixie Carter, the series starred Delta Burke as Julia’s former beauty queen sister, Suzanne Sugarbaker, Annie Potts as Mary Jo Shively, a recently divorced mother, and Jean Smart as small-town gal Charlene Frazier. They all worked together at the Sugarbaker interior design agency, decorating the finest homes in and around Atlanta. Their friendship, antics, heartaches, belly laughs, community spirit, and erudite rants made for one of the best television shows ever to be on television. The fact that it was about strong Southern women just made it even better.
The series has been off the air for years, and wasn’t available on any of the streaming services for years. Now, Hulu has announced that it’s bringing the original series to streaming for the very first time. The full run of 163 episodes and seven seasons will be available on the streaming service starting August 26.
If you’re ready to binge watch, but don’t know where to start, here are 11 episodes for mandatory viewing.
“The Beauty Pageant”
When Charlene sponsors Mary Jo’s daughter Claudia to enter the Miss Pre-Teen Atlanta pageant, Mary Jo has her doubts. When Claudia is selected as a finalist, the women all rally around to support her in her dreams. As a former Miss Georgia World, Suzanne, of course has a lot of advice to offer, but it’s Julia who steals the show. It’s in this episode that Julia Sugarbaker delivers the most Julia Sugarbaker takedown ever, reminding the world that you don’t cross a Sugarbaker woman!
Julia gets invited to a small dinner party with the former president, Jimmy Carter, his wife, Rosalyn, and nothing will stand in her way, and no one should try. “If I miss my dinner with Jimmy and Rosalind Carter because of this, you're going to pay and pay big. I'm going to find you and hunt you down like a dog!” she warned. However, her plans are derailed when she gets trapped in jury duty. As the clock ticks by, Julia unleashes her frustration on her fellow jurors.
WATCH: Julia Sugarbaker's Best Takedowns On Designing Women
Mary Jo, Julia, Charlene, and Anthony wind up in jail after being caught by a policeman spying into cars looking for Mary Jo’s daughter who is on a date with her boyfriend. When they swing by Suzanne’s house for bail money, things go from bad to worse. None of it is as bad as Julia’s dress getting stuck in her pantyhose at a mall fashion, though, and she accidentally moons everyone in attendance.
“Julia Gets Her Head Stuck In A Fence”
When Anthony is invited as an honored guest at the Governor’s ball, the Sugarbaker design team is given the job of decorating the main hallway at the Governor's mansion for the annual ball. Things go awry, though, when Julia accidentally gets her head stuck in a priceless antique banister while taking a photo. Charlene can’t help but tell Julia that, “worse than the day you mooned Atlanta.”
“The Women of Atlanta”
The Sugarbaker team are invited to be a part of a photo spread documenting the working women of Atlanta. They quickly realize that photoshoot is not what they signed up for as the photographer asks them to strike sexy poses, including one where Julia is instructed to “ever-so-slightly” suck on a strand of pearls. That goes just about as well as you’d expect.
“Julia and Mary Jo Get Stuck Under a Bed”
When Julia and Mary Jo suspect someone is stealing their design ideas for a Yuletide House, they decide to do something about it. They conscript Anthony into their scheme and sneak into their competitor’s house to investigate. When the owner returns home unexpectedly, well as the title of the episode indicates, Julia and Mary Jo get trapped under the master bed.
“And Now, Here’s Bernice”
Bernice is asked to host a public access talk show, but when a guest backs out, the Sugarbaker team agrees to take part. That was before they knew that the episode was about high-end call girls and Bernice had no interest in changing the topic. Julia, of course, will not stand for it, telling her, “If you do not correct this, I am going to personally pick you up and throw you across the room.”
“Julia Drives Over the First Amendment”
While Julia is an ardent supporter of the First Amendment, her beliefs are challenged when a newsstand puts up a large display advertising a pornographic magazine. She has no choice but to run through it with her car again and again until the publisher of the magazine threatens to sue.
“Getting Married and Eating Dirt”
A New York Times article infuriates Julia who, in typical style, decides to call up the editor and give him a piece of her mind. But wouldn’t you want to yell at an editor who approved a story claiming that Southerners eat dirt?
“Killing All The Right People”
This very special episode was nominated for two Emmy Awards for how it addressed the still-new AIDS crisis at a time when few people were talking about it. The women were asked to design a funeral for a young friend of the firm. When that costs them a client, Julia does not hold back.
“A Blast From the Past”
Mary Jo gets an unlikely offer from a high school friend when she asks him for help having The Talk with her son. The real fun, though, is that Julia has arranged for her house to be included in a tour of historic Atlanta homes. That means her house is soon filled with "ill-mannered tourists with their Big Gulps, Mysties, Slurpees, and Frosties, their dirty feet, overflowing rubber thongs, and babies who sneeze Fudgesicle juice."