Designing Women Made You Gay

The shoulder-pad sisterhood of ladies from Atlanta that paved the way for Sex and the City is now on DVD -- and Dave White is all over it.




All of this may make me sound like a big fan of the show. But until the season 1 DVD arrived at my door last week thanks to a helpful publicist, that clip was all I knew of Designing Women. I mean, I knew the gays liked it in the same way they liked TheGolden Girls, another show I never watched. I just didn't really know why. Both of those programs aired from the mid '80s until the early '90s, and during that time I thought of myself as way too punk rock for that kind of thing. But in reality I was just too self-consciously cool and insufferable.

But now I'm caught up with the inaugural season of the show and I've realized a couple things. For starters, I now know that I could have lived happily without hearing Doc Severinsen's slobbery trumpet-solo version of "Georgia on My Mind" over 20 times in a row. More importantly, I now also know that a lot of stuff my gay friends used to say weren't original witty retorts they invented, just one-liners they borrowed from these large-haired ladies.

In fact, it appears that, along with TheGolden Girls, this show taught a lot of gay guys of the late '80s how to carry themselves and gave them the haughty dialogue they needed to bash back when life got them down.

I used to think that "Where y'all from, bitch?" was something that Les just liked to say, something he made up. I also used to think that my friend Karl's dramatic and speechy delivery of his always-at-the-ready withering comebacks, moments where he'd elongate words for effect ("and another thing, don't you EHHH-VERRR..."), were strictly his own. But no. The staff of Sugarbaker & Associates taught them both how to live every week -- especially Dixie Carter's monologues, which began in the very first episode and continued for years. It was as though she was guaranteed in her contract to have at least one per show.

Tags: television