This depressing final episode of Designing Women — taped before the cast knew the seven-seasons-old series was to be canceled — demonstrates how far the once-amusing sitcom had fallen. The hour-long edition is set in a house the Sugarbakers design firm has been hired to redecorate. Our gang — Dixie Carter, Annie Potts, Judith Ivey, Jan Hooks, Meshach Taylor, Alice Ghostley — toss mean gibes at the woman who has employed Sugarbakers. Why? Because the woman, played by Anastasia Barzee, is squeezed into tight clothes, behaves ditzily, and is therefore ”a bimbo”: Ghostley’s Bernice sneers, ”I don’t think her hooters are real,” which gets a big snicker from the soundtrack. So much for the feminist slant this series used to wear proudly.
Cast members start to daydream that this house is Tara, site of Gone With the Wind, and their fantasies play out as jokes The Carol Burnett Show must have rejected years ago. Everyone looks tired and sheepish. When it was in its prime — roughly 1988 to ’91 — Women was a solid B+. This episode finishes it off a C-.