Series creator Linda Bloodworth-Thomason is the Joyce Carol Oates of television, and not just because they both use three names: Like Oates, Bloodworth-Thomason is both remarkably prolific and remarkably consistent in the excellence of her output.

Then, too, Bloodworth-Thomason is doing in sitcoms what Oates has done in her novels, offering female characters that defy cultural clichés about women. The four stars of Designing Women are funny, but they’re not dumb bombshells.

At its weakest, Designing Women tends to be preachy, with Dixie Carter given five minutes for a show-stopping lecture about some Big Issue. But most of the time, it’s raucously funny, with Delta Burke becoming ever more assured and Meshach Taylor — week after week, the lone man among these women — ever more riotous. B+