Designing Women’s Julia and Suzanne Sugarbaker Had The Best Sibling Rivalry
Sisterly love is a strong thing.
Julia and Suzanne Sugarbaker were true Southern belles who came from an illustrious Southern family. Julia was an erudite and educated woman with strong opinions on everything, including, of course, her sister Suzanne, the former Miss Georgia World. The Sugarbakers were strong Southern women who wouldn’t back down from a fight, especially with each other. When those Sugarbaker sisters went after each other, it was best to sit back and watch the fireworks display (and maybe take notes for the next time your sister got on your last nerve).
Here are some of our favorite moments of sibling rivalry on Designing Women:
Julia: Suzanne, if sex were fast food, there'd be an arch over your bed.
Suzanne: Haven't you ever heard of Darwin?
Julia: You mean Darwin Sanders? The man who used to take care of our lawn?
Suzanne: No, Silly, Charles Darwin. Don't you people ever read?
Julia: Yes, Suzanne, yes. We do. But you don't, so I thought... well... go on.
Charlene: [Julia] said she's gonna hunt me down and hire bloodhounds to rip my clothes off…Now Suzanne, you know Julia, I mean when this is all over she'll realize I had to do it and forgive me, don’ you think?
Suzanne: I think you and your baby should get some black wigs on and get the hell outta town.
Julia: Just remember, Clareton is not the only school in Atlanta.
Charlene: What are you trying to say?
Suzanne: What she's trying to say is: you're stupid too. I get that all the time. They think just because we got extra help in the boob department, we got skimped on everything else.
Julia: Suzanne, if I were you I wouldn't be telling that story. Sounds to me like you had some very dissatisfied customers.
Suzanne: Well, they married me, didn't they?
Suzanne: [Looking for a dress for her class reunion] Maybe I have gained a little weight. I don't think it's that noticeable. I mean, it's not like I'm going to enter the banquet room followed by a tidal wave. I'll just wear something that, you know, covers everything up.
Julia: Well, you've gained a little weight in your face, too.
Suzanne: Okay that's it! I don't have to take this. If I wanted to be insulted I could have stayed at home and waited for a crank call! Anyway, you all have certainly made your point. I'll just be going now. That is if you think the streets of Atlanta can stand the strain of *both* me and my Mercedes.
Suzanne: Now I'm not trying to be unkind, Julia, but I don't think there's too many women cutting it in your age bracket.
Julia: Well, that may be, Suzanne, but I didn't notice anybody knocking down the door to get a crack at you.
Suzanne: I probably intimidated 'em! As my ex-husband, Dash Goff the writer, used to say, 'There are some mountains so majestic.....'
Mary Jo: ' …even brave men dare not approach.'
Julia: Well, I guess nobody felt like climbing you
Suzanne: [En route to Japan] I'll tell you something else. I am not eating octopus, walking around in my stocking feet, or takin' a bath with my neighbors no matter what those little people say.
Julia: It's always stimulating to travel with the international voice of racism.
Suzanne: I never use catalogs. I'd rather go in the store and see all the salespeople groveling and sucking up to you.
Julia: Pardon me, I never knew they were so solicitous at the K-Mart.
Suzanne: I have had one of the worst mornings of my life. First, I pull into one of those self-serve gas deals, but I don't know how to stick that little thing-a-ma-jig in there. Fortunately, there was this housewife in a van full of screaming kids who agreed to do it for me. So, as I'm leaving, I give her a quarter. And what does she give me? The bird! Can you believe it? And to top it all off, I find out my cleaning lady is not coming in today.
Julia: Incredible story. Let us never criticize until we've walked a mile in those pumps.
Mary Jo: I need you to show me how you do what you do.
Julia: I'm not sure exactly what that is.
Suzanne: Oh get serious Julia. They don't call you the terminator for nothing.
Julia: [After Suzanne informed the office that she was dating Mary Jo's ex] You know Suzanne, I find this really incredible. Three hours ago, you were looking for a new gynecologist. Mary Jo here very graciously gave you the number of her ex-husband. We were all under the impression that this was to be a professional medical visit. Now, you return with the news that you dating this person. I mean, forgive my stupidity, but just exactly how does one make that leap from the stirrups in at a doctor’s to a booth and TGI Fridays?!
Suzanne: If I were you Julia, I'd just be glad he's interested in women at all.
Julia: Just what is that supposed to mean?
Suzanne: Well, you know how overbearing you can be. I was always worried -- with him being an only child, and you being his mother, he could quite easily have grown up to be a homosexual.
Julia: Suzanne, why don't you go into the storeroom and see if you can't find something sharp to impale yourself on.
While the Sugarbaker sisters could certainly dish it out to each other, no one had ever dare to badmouth either of them. That is solely the right of a sibling and anyone else who tries it should be prepared to face the wrath of a Sugarbaker. Take for instance, the time that Julia got her head stuck in a fence and while Suzanne was trying to help, a woman happened to scoff at Julia’s predicament. The result was a speech from Suzanne that reminded viewers she really and truly was Julia’s sister:
Suzanne: You know, I'm sorry but I don't think we like your tone of voice. Who do you think you're talking to? For your information, we are the Sugarbaker sisters of Atlanta. We had people living here long before it burned. Our great-great grandfather was Robert E. Lee's roommate in college. Our other grandfather helped write the Georgia Constitution. I myself have stood in the rose garden with Jimmy Carter. So even if we do, on this particular day, happen to have our head temporarily stuck in a fence, we are not going to take any crap off some two-bit, low-level bureaucratic usherette.
Similarly, when a woman dared to mock Suzanne in Julia’s presence, the result was one of the most majestic tirades in Julia Sugarbaker’s long history of epic takedowns:
Julia: “For example, you probably didn’t know that Suzanne was the only contestant in Georgia pageant history to sweep every category except congeniality, and that is not something the women in my family aspire to anyway. Or that when she walked down the runway in her swimsuit, five contestants quit on the spot. Or that when she emerged from the isolation booth to answer the question, ‘What would you do to prevent war?’ she spoke so eloquently of patriotism, battlefields, and diamond tiaras, grown men wept. And you probably didn’t know, Marjorie, that 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! And when it finally did come down, Marjorie, my sister caught that baton, and 12,000 people jumped to their feet for sixteen and 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 that the lights went out in Georgia!”
Not that is what we call love.