Our Favorite Female Ensembles on Television

In glancing at tomorrow’s new DVD releases, one title jumped out as being worthy of our little spotlight: yes, tomorrow marks the unveiling of Designing Women: The Final Season. Not that the ’92-’93 year was one of their best — it did feature the third and decidedly lesser version of the cast (Delta Burke and Jean Smart 4eva) and the writers were kind of running on fumes. Still, mediocre Designing Women is better than none at all; this was, after all, one of the best female ensemble shows in TV history. We nearly called it the best, and then realized what a tall claim that is. In contrast to the moving pictures, where you can barely find two important women’s roles in the same movie, television is full of crackerjack female ensembles; we’ve assembled our ten favorites after the jump, and if you’re the kind of person who thinks Sex and the City will be on it, you should prepare yourself for disappointment now.

Designing Women

Linda Bloodworth-Thomason’s humdinger of a sitcom ran seven seasons, from 1986 to 1993, and carved out its own niche as an improbable but effective mixture of spiky attitude and Southern charm. Dixie Carter, Delta Burke, Annie Potts, and Jean Smart may not have gotten along smoothly off-camera, but their distinctive, well-defined personas bounced off of each other beautifully, spicing up the already tart dialogue provided by Bloodworth-Thomason and her writing staff. The last two seasons, with Burke and Smart replaced by Jan Hooks, Julia Duffy, and Judith Ivey, suffered from the loss of the OG (ODW?) cast, but when this show was on, it was hard to beat.