A new series here on /bent highlighting mainstream television’s LGBT-themed episodes through the decades continues with an episode from the second season of “Designing Women” that progressively — certainly given it was 1987 and a network television show set in Georgia — tackled AIDS.
A young Tony Goldwyn plays a friend of the fabulous “Designing” quartet of Dixie Carter, Annie Potts, Jean Smart and Delta Burke who comes to them asking to “design” his funeral, because he has contracted AIDS. The women encounter prejudice based on their unquestioned decision to help him, leading to a tour-de-force speeches by both Carter’s Julia and Pott’s Mary Jo that only makes you wonder what it was like to be in a suburban living room in 1987 watching it (on CBS!). Though there’s still a mild conservative tinge to the whole thing (and the ending is abrupt and odd), it’s a powerful and important (not to mention somehow very funny) call-to-arms that was clearly directed at the many folks watching who likely had little knowledge of the disease. And surely challenged a few hearts and minds.
So kudos to Linda Bloodworth-Thompson, who was inspired to make the episode after her mother died of AIDS. The episode’s title is derived from a comment she overheard in the hospital: “The good thing about AIDS is that it’s killing all the right people.” She incorporated a version of the remark into the script, which deservedly earned her an Emmy nomination…
Someone posted the full episode on YouTube and we thank them very much: