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Designing Women S2 E4 - Killing All the Right People

Updated: Aug 14, 2023

Grab some tissue, no, like the whole box ‘cause this one is a gut puncher. Designing Women takes on the AIDS crisis, homophobia, and contraception in schools all in one episode. It’s hard for sitcoms to age well, and yet, an episode that’s low-key educating us manages to do so in spades.


Stick around for this week’s "Extra Sugar" where we discuss the real events that inspired this one...right down to the episode title, as well as Designing Women’s place in LGBTQ TV history. Dig deeper with these reads (and one watch):


And then some information on this one’s most random reference: Maureen Reagan, 60, Activist and President's Daughter


Come on, let’s get into it!




 

Transcript

Salina: Hey, Nikki.

Nikki: Hey, Salina.

Salina: I thought I was just going to get a wave and hello, everyone.

Salina: We are at season two, episode four, and we're going to continue on with our proof survey.

Nikki: Survey questionnaire.

Salina: Survey questionnaire.

Salina: I don't know.

Nikki: It's called a game.

Salina: What if I'm like turning all your answers in?

Salina: What if I was recording all your answers?

Nikki: Oh, my God, that would be terrible.

Nikki: I'm so glad you are not recording me because you did not ask my permission.

Salina: Right.

Salina: That would be so rude.

Salina: So we are on to questions seven and eight of the ancient dinner party game.

Salina: And so the first question is what is your current state of mind?

Nikki: My current state of mind?

Salina: That's a tough question.

Nikki: You're going to have to go first.

Salina: Or I'll fill some air.

Salina: Okay, so you think and I will say that my current state of mind is that I just got off work, as did you.

Salina: I'm tired.

Salina: I'm feeling a little ragged.

Salina: I don't know if any of these are states of mind.

Salina: Just see if I get there.

Salina: But I'm hopeful because it's close to the weekend and so yeah, hopeful, that's my current state of mind.

Salina: Tired but hopeful.

Nikki: I think you just described adulthood.

Nikki: Adulting in general, tired but hopeful.

Nikki: There's something around the corner.

Salina: Yeah, I mean, I don't always felt that hopeful for most adults, maybe.

Nikki: I think this week my state of mind is a little scattered.

Nikki: It's been scattered a lot for a long time, but I just feel like I'm bouncing from a lot of things from one thing to the next.

Nikki: So I just feel a little off kilter.

Nikki: A little.

Salina: You know what we need to do?

Nikki: What's that?

Salina: Well, we need to remind ourselves and the listeners to participate in some self care.

Salina: So whether you're feeling old and haggard you said ragged.

Nikki: You didn't say old and haggard.

Nikki: You said you felt ragged.

Salina: Well, I'm pointing at myself.

Salina: I want to be very clear about that.

Salina: Well, I up the annie tired.

Salina: And even with the bits of hope or whether you're feeling scattered, we need to do something for ourselves.

Nikki: Do something nice for yourself.

Nikki: Treat yourself.

Salina: I don't know what it is, but do something nice for yourself and listener, do something nice for yourself because you matter and only you can prevent forest fires.

Salina: All right, so moving on to the next question, because I don't think we're going to get better than that.

Salina: This one, I think is much harder, but we'll see what you think.

Salina: What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Nikki: That's a great question, man.

Salina: Let's just tell them the truth, man.

Salina: I sent this one to Nikki.

Salina: I couldn't even look up virtues.

Salina: I even sent her a list of virtues.

Salina: And she tells me when she gets here today that she had to look up some more.

Nikki: I had to look up more.

Nikki: I had to just make sure I knew all my options.

Nikki: And I was telling Salina this one feels like a particularly hard question to answer because it feels like a real jerk move to say that something virtuous is overrated.

Nikki: So I think the one I came up with was courage.

Nikki: I think that's overrated, okay?

Nikki: And I'll tell you why.

Salina: Okay.

Nikki: There are certain things in your life and in people's lives that they do, and they really have to drum up what we call courage.

Nikki: They have to take a leap of faith.

Nikki: Like, they want to start a podcast.

Nikki: They have to take a leap of faith and hope someone listens.

Nikki: But at the same time, a lot of those things you would do anyway.

Nikki: Like, if you have to give a presentation at work and people say, oh, you were so brave to do that.

Nikki: No, I had to do it anyway.

Nikki: My boss told me I had to do it.

Nikki: Like, I didn't get a choice.

Nikki: I had to do it.

Nikki: So there are things in life, I think a lot of the things people say you're brave for doing, you do because you just have to childbirth.

Nikki: It's so brave to have a kid that just takes such brave.

Nikki: That's what has to happen in order to get the child out.

Nikki: Like, you have to birth them somehow.

Nikki: So we call these things bravery, but really they're just existing, okay?

Nikki: And it's only tangentially related, but one of my favorite movies is a movie called Angus.

Nikki: Okay?

Nikki: Have you have you not seen it?

Salina: I haven't seen it, but I know what it is.

Salina: Mid 90s.

Nikki: It's like the epitome of the mid 90s, but it's about this kid.

Nikki: The whole storyline is that this kid is really good at science.

Nikki: He plays football and he's overweight.

Nikki: And his entire life he has this bully that makes fun of him because he's largely because he's overweight.

Nikki: It's like, only in the mid 90s would you get away with a storyline like this, but he has this girl that he really likes, and they end up getting nominated as king and queen of this dance.

Nikki: And so he has spoiler alert, 30 years later or whatever, but his grandfather says there's this running line in the story about Superman and how he should be brave like Superman.

Nikki: And finally his grandfather tells him, Superman's not brave.

Nikki: Superman's indestructible.

Nikki: The truly brave person is the person who could get hurt but does it anyway.

Nikki: So I believe bravery is a thing.

Nikki: I think there are things in life you have to do or that you want to do that maybe you don't have to do.

Nikki: And you do have to gem up some bravery to get through it.

Nikki: But I think most things in life, you're going to just have to get through it.

Nikki: And it's bravery or not.

Nikki: You just have to do it anyway.

Nikki: Long winded way of saying I think it's bravery, man.

Nikki: I think that's way overrated.

Salina: I have like 1000 thoughts.

Nikki: Let's see, what are they?

Salina: Well, my first one is that you looked up a whole list.

Salina: But I want to be very clear that the very first thing on my list that I sent was courage.

Nikki: I like to know my options so that I can make the best choice.

Salina: I'm not even saying I would have done anything differently.

Salina: I'm just saying it's the very first thing on the list I sent you.

Salina: So for whatever that's worth.

Salina: The second thing that I would say, that we're going to say it in different ways, but I think it's similar thinking is that for me, I think you can define all of these things in different ways and I think people's definitions of these virtues are very different.

Salina: I also feel like I just hate the question.

Salina: Oh, I hate it.

Nikki: Well, gosh darn it, if I knew that was an option, we could have just thrown it out.

Salina: Why does it well, but we can explore it.

Salina: Throw it out and explore it.

Salina: Why does one have to be I don't like the phrasing of overrated.

Salina: I think what I would say is like, which one of these seems the least important?

Salina: Because my thing is I don't think any of them are overrated.

Salina: I think they're all really important.

Salina: And so if I was going to say out of the ones that I have a list of, I will not read them to you.

Salina: Look up your virtues, people, there's 1000 of them.

Salina: I would say that prudence or cautiousness is the least important to me, but it's not not important.

Salina: And I wouldn't say it's overrated.

Salina: I would just say out of all these ones that I'm seeing, that's the least important to me.

Salina: I'd rather be patient.

Salina: I'd rather be kind.

Salina: I'd rather be humble.

Salina: I think my definition of courage is a little different maybe because to me, courage sometimes being weak and admitting that you're weak about something, that takes courage.

Salina: You know what I'm saying?

Salina: So I think you don't know what I'm saying looking at your face and reading it.

Salina: But to me, courage isn't always like Superman.

Salina: Sometimes courage is just like having the ability to say I'm not up to the task.

Salina: That's a type of courage in my opinion, yet it's overrated.

Salina: But I want to be compassionate and I want to be generous and wise and honest and all of these things not me.

Nikki: I don't want to be I don't.

Salina: Care about any of them.

Salina: And so anyways, I just feel like I feel like the question's wrong.

Salina: If Proust was still around, I would just say, can you reword this?

Salina: And Nikki knows I do that a lot.

Nikki: Yeah.

Nikki: So that's Salina's Operating Mode.

Salina: Hmm.

Nikki: I don't like this.

Nikki: Fix it.

Nikki: It's wrong.

Salina: I'll fix it.

Salina: I will fix it.

Salina: The other thing I wanted to say is that I just have to share that when I've heard this question answer before.

Salina: I heard people say, like, they thought the most overrated virtue was being nice.

Salina: And I just want to say that I think that being nice and being kind are two very different things.

Salina: I think nice is surface level, and I think kindness is like soulful.

Salina: It's like a pattern of behavior.

Salina: It's like deep.

Salina: And nice is like, I held this door open so I didn't slap you in the face.

Salina: So that is one thing that has occurred to me, too.

Salina: I'm bringing that up, too, because I just think that people have different definitions for all of these things.

Nikki: Yeah, I think the distinction between nice and kind is something that I've thought about a lot.

Nikki: Someone brought that up to me because people pleasers like myself, like to be nice.

Nikki: We like to be the person that makes everyone feel comfortable.

Nikki: And we don't want to hurt their feelings, and we don't want to say anything that's going to rock the boat or make anybody feel anything other than happy.

Nikki: And the truth is, sometimes it may not feel nice to tell someone a truth, but it's actually kind because you're helping them understand how to communicate with you better, for instance, or you're helping them understand.

Nikki: You may not see it this way because you're in your box, but if you pull out of your box and look at it my way, understand how that makes me feel, and it helps make them more empathetic.

Nikki: So in the end, it's kind.

Nikki: Although it may not have felt nice to point that out.

Nikki: Makes sense.

Salina: It does make sense.

Salina: I think you're describing the power of the positive.

Salina: No, there you go.

Salina: To some extent, also in the worst transition ever, would it be with great empathy that we might like to talk about episode four?

Nikki: Yes, it's an empathetic episode.

Nikki: We got ourselves an essential episode on Hulu.

Nikki: This is a big one.

Salina: It is our second essential episode.

Nikki: Right.

Salina: We haven't seen one since episode two.

Nikki: Of It's been a While.

Nikki: It's been a while.

Nikki: So our Hulu episode description.

Nikki: This episode is called Killing All the Right People.

Nikki: Hulu says a wonderful young friend enlists the Sugar Baker firm's services for an unusual project.

Nikki: He's dying of AIDS and wants them to design his funeral.

Nikki: And Mary Jo becomes involved in a PTA Parent Teacher Association debate over sexually active school students.

Nikki: The air date was October 5.

Nikki: Eightymdb's is much shorter.

Nikki: The ladies plan a funeral for a fellow designer who's dying of AIDS.

Salina: Do you have a preference?

Nikki: I prefer the first one.

Salina: Agreed.

Nikki: I like the detail.

Salina: Yeah.

Salina: Which is unusual because normally who loses the one that aggravates.

Nikki: Is there anything while we're on the subject, is there anything you would change in this description?

Salina: No, I really like the first one a lot, but I also really like that you made sure that people understood what PTA meant.

Nikki: Don't know if everybody knows that.

Salina: No, it's good.

Salina: It's good.

Nikki: I understand we have some Irish listeners.

Nikki: I don't know if they have PTA in Ireland.

Nikki: You're so kind and empathetic.

Nikki: So this one was written by LBT.

Nikki: And Salina in extra sugar.

Nikki: This week is going to get into a little bit of the backstory behind writing this story for LBT.

Nikki: Because there is a little bit of a backstory.

Nikki: It was directed by Harry Thomason, and I guess that's it.

Nikki: You want to jump into general reactions and stray observations.

Salina: Sure.

Salina: I mean, do you want me to go ahead and just give you my first one?

Nikki: Yeah.

Salina: The Return of Bernice.

Salina: Such a serious episode.

Salina: But I would just say that it was nice because this is a pretty serious episode and I think that the show pulled out the big guns.

Salina: We haven't seen her in a long time, and I think they brought her back because we needed some comic relief in this one and she was able to provide that.

Nikki: She definitely was.

Nikki: I listed her in my Things I Liked about this episode section.

Salina: Okay.

Nikki: She's definitely a thing I liked in this episode.

Nikki: She was definitely comic relief but didn't distract from the episode.

Nikki: She didn't take us necessarily down rabbit holes that were irrelevant to the episode or felt random, more random than they needed to be, I guess.

Nikki: I mean, I think my biggest general reaction is this.

Nikki: This was a tough watch.

Salina: It was.

Salina: But, like, a beautiful one.

Nikki: Yeah.

Salina: I don't know.

Salina: I was so moved, like, the whole time.

Nikki: The first time I watched it, I actually started crying.

Nikki: I didn't know this Kendall character at all.

Nikki: I started crying when he said he had AIDS.

Nikki: And I think it was kind of putting this in line with the time period that it was happening in and putting the pieces together in my head that it was setting up to be a very intense episode.

Salina: Right.

Salina: Yeah.

Salina: I think one of the things that hit me about Kendall while we're talking about him this was one of my main observations was how sad it was and how it just hit me in a really terrible way that he mentions his family is more upset they learned that he's gay than they are about him having AIDS and knowing that he's going to die.

Salina: And just as a reminder, it still happens today, so that attitude hasn't disappeared.

Salina: And so I think that was just one of the first things, like watching through the episode that felt like it really affected me.

Nikki: Yeah.

Nikki: I have a lot more in the what I liked category than in General Observations this week.

Nikki: But I will say, just in the interest of sharing some random observations, I got strays.

Salina: I love a stray.

Nikki: I got strays.

Nikki: This one's fashion related.

Nikki: Okay.

Nikki: Suzanne salmon colored blouse at the beginning with the bow.

Nikki: I don't like calling them what they are.

Salina: You don't like calling them what they are?

Nikki: P****.

Nikki: Bow blouse.

Salina: Oh, is that what they're I don't know if I know this bow.

Nikki: That's what they're called.

Nikki: Oh, just a silk blouse with a bow on it.

Nikki: I don't know.

Nikki: I don't know.

Salina: Yeah, I feel like I have lots of questions about that now.

Nikki: Okay, but that blouse was lovely.

Salina: Oh, is it like the kind of 70s, like, businessy, kind of like a little floppy bow?

Salina: Yeah, for some reason I know that's in the 80s, but for whatever reason, too.

Salina: But it had like a brief comeback, too, in the man.

Salina: This must be good listening.

Nikki: Go on.

Nikki: That was one of my stray observations.

Nikki: There was also a Suzanne diatribe about men needing to kill the bugs and how men use women's lib as an excuse to not kill all the right.

Nikki: I'm going to go out on a limb and say I do consider myself progressive, I do consider myself feminist, and I do agree with Suzanne, men should kill all the bugs.

Salina: I think we have arguments in the house about that because I feel like it's both of us standing very far away from a bug going, kill it.

Salina: And I would like to say that I feel like I get a lot.

Nikki: Of the opportunities a disproportionate share.

Salina: It feels a little bit like it.

Nikki: Our children are officially bug killers now.

Nikki: Carolina killed a spider yesterday because she asked me to do it.

Nikki: And I was like, I don't think so.

Nikki: So she did it.

Nikki: Oh, good for how you train.

Salina: Yeah.

Nikki: Anyway, I appreciated that and I just felt like I needed to put that line in the sand for listeners to know a little bit more about me, which is, I am not interested in killing bugs.

Nikki: Then my last random one.

Nikki: This one is really kind of random.

Nikki: At the end of the episode when they're in the funeral home at Kendall's funeral and the camera pans back and all of the ladies are sitting there and singing A Closer Walk to Thee, julia is not visible.

Nikki: You can see the outline of someone behind Mary Jo's head that has long brown hair that could look like Julia, but you never actually see Julia's face.

Salina: Do you think that's one of the dimension things?

Salina: Like when it got moved to Hulu or something?

Salina: Maybe the dimensions are different on Hulu and it cut her out?

Nikki: I don't think no, because Mary Jo's face just clearly covers like it's not a cut off on the screen.

Nikki: Mary Jo's face covers her.

Salina: Oh, so you're saying it's like weird wonder.

Nikki: It's weird blocking.

Nikki: And I wonder if it's because she couldn't be there that day or something, maybe.

Salina: I don't know.

Nikki: So I was just curious because I wondered if that meant then they went back and recorded that scene separately and only the people who could be there were there, or it was just such an obvious and as I'm saying this, I'm wondering if Charlene was there and now I can't remember.

Salina: Well, I would say we could pull up and watch it right now, but again, not sure that would make for good listening.

Salina: We'll have to check that part out.

Nikki: So that was my last straight observation.

Salina: Okay.

Salina: I had a couple one is just a question that I think based on you, and I just going to go ahead and say it, have watched a little bit ahead in some of the episodes, and I want to say, can we please keep an eye out for use of off the beam?

Nikki: Oh.

Salina: Because I think we're going to get a lot of references to it and I think it might need to be something that we're tracking.

Salina: Okay, so that's thing one, my second stray was this comment about Maureen Reagan.

Salina: This is President Reagan's daughter.

Salina: I thought that's who it was, but I did have to look it up because I wasn't 100% sure.

Salina: And there's a comment made like, why should the taxpayers have to pay room and board for a big strapping girl like that?

Salina: This felt like code fat shaming.

Salina: Okay.

Salina: So I didn't love that I had.

Nikki: To look at it.

Nikki: So it's in my references, which we'll skip now, but I had to look it up because I was looking to see if there was any basis for that.

Nikki: Was there something going on in her story that I didn't find anything?

Salina: Yeah, and she didn't look.

Salina: I have her in my references, too.

Nikki: Did you find out any reason they.

Salina: Would have said that?

Salina: No.

Salina: I mean, I do think maybe she's just like tall.

Salina: I saw that.

Salina: I mean, I think it was just more of a slam.

Nikki: So strange because I didn't get it at all.

Nikki: It feels like one of the 80s.

Salina: Yeah.

Salina: Honestly, since we're just going to go ahead and say it, I actually thought that she sounded very centrist in her beliefs, and if we were not doing the extra sugar that we did today, we would be doing one on her.

Salina: That's how interesting I thought her background was.

Salina: So, guys, look up Maureen Reagan.

Salina: There you go.

Salina: My other stray is just Tony Goldwin.

Salina: And just to say that this is Tony Goldwin is who plays Kendall in the episode and just that if you guys are like, oh, he looks familiar, but I'm not sure from where he played the president on Scandal or Fitz.

Salina: He was also in Ghost.

Salina: I will not tell you what character, no spoiling.

Salina: And then he was also in one of my favorite movies from the 90s, kiss the Girls, which is based on a James Patterson novel and features Ashley Judd.

Salina: And I didn't realize he directs.

Salina: I didn't realize that.

Salina: And I don't know if you've ever seen someone like you.

Salina: It was like an early two thousand s rom com with Ashley Judd and Hugh Jackman.

Salina: Such a good movie.

Salina: I've probably seen it like a dozen times.

Nikki: Anyway.

Salina: So that was my other stray observation.

Nikki: Well, there you go.

Nikki: So do we move into what we liked?

Nikki: Sure.

Nikki: It's a much longer list for yeah, yeah.

Salina: Start us off.

Nikki: Or much more in.

Nikki: Guess I my so my big picture, what I liked about this episode was I liked the structure, I liked taking the story of Kendall, but framing it within this contraception debate that was happening in Mary Jo's school.

Nikki: It felt very realistic to me.

Nikki: And it's a really tall order to cover HIV and all of the interrelated issues related to the LGBTQ community.

Nikki: And providing contraception to kids in schools in one episode of 20 some OD minutes a ton, that's a massive order.

Nikki: And to do it effectively, I thought.

Salina: It was so well done.

Nikki: It was incredibly well done.

Nikki: And I appreciated the way that they approached the myths within the context of conversations.

Nikki: So there were really two big conversations that happened.

Nikki: One was Kendall with the ladies, and he was clearly in an accepting and comfortable environment with them.

Nikki: They were not judging him.

Nikki: They were shocked.

Nikki: They were shell shocked, for sure.

Nikki: This is when he first tells them he's dying.

Nikki: But they were aware enough to ask insightful questions, to not ask ignorant questions.

Nikki: Coming from a place of fear or negativity or something like that, I think you can ask an ignorant question, but if you do it in an aggressive way or a mean way, it's not helpful.

Nikki: But if you say, like, I genuinely don't know, help me understand, that's fine.

Nikki: We didn't even have to do that with the women because they knew what they needed to know here.

Nikki: The reason that's important is because it allowed them to address these myths really, really quickly and effectively in a small script area, but not make you feel like you were watching, like, an after school special.

Salina: Right.

Salina: Which can really take you out of a show.

Salina: And I think we especially in this time period and into the don't see this done as much anymore, but when we would have these episodes dealing with different social issues and suddenly we're learning lessons, a lot of times it was not done effectively.

Salina: It wasn't done so I totally agree.

Salina: And I think also we've talked about the powerful ways that you can use the writer's room and like a platform, like a sitcom.

Salina: And I think the last time we really talked about it being used so effectively was the one where Charlene thinks she might have breast cancer.

Salina: And so this is the next time I felt like it's been this powerful.

Salina: I also think that another way that they well, not they, but LBT wrote this.

Salina: That was a really good way to introduce Kendall, is if you remember, they were talking about, we've never met Kendall.

Salina: This is the first time we do.

Salina: But before he actually comes in, they're talking about him and they're saying really wonderful things about him, and then once he shows up, we learn about him dying and then we learn that he's also gay.

Salina: And I think they did that very strategically, given the time period.

Salina: Again, today, it's not a big deal to have a gay character on television, but this is 1987, and I think it was a bigger deal, and that's what we'll talk about next for Sugar.

Salina: But there were much fewer representations and I feel like there were probably much fewer representations that were pairing together, like showing the humanity behind this person.

Nikki: So you're arguing that they kind of set him up as a good character and a good kind of person and the kind of person you'd want to have in your life, and then they bring out these other things about him.

Nikki: So it almost makes it hard, although some people certainly can do it, but you have become empathetic to this character and there's no reason you shouldn't like them.

Nikki: Then they introduce that he's gay.

Nikki: Well, I can't not like him just because he's gay.

Nikki: He seems like a really good person.

Nikki: And that was sort of what they were trying to do, is make it.

Salina: I think so.

Salina: Yeah.

Salina: I think that they were trying to use the script in a really strategic manner.

Nikki: So I think in that same scene where he's talking to the ladies, there is an opportunity for him to say, it's not just the gay community, though, in this hospital I was in.

Nikki: Yes, and I think you'll probably get into this in Extra Sugar.

Nikki: How that's related to LBT's experience with her mother?

Nikki: But I thought that was a really nice way to again, it felt natural to the conversation.

Nikki: It didn't feel preachy, but it was an opportunity for LBT and for the entire show to say, like, it's not just this community, though even if it were, we should care.

Nikki: But it's not just this.

Salina: Yeah, I think know what made this more human and less like, preachy or like we're in a lecture hall was again, it was so human, it was so heartfelt.

Salina: Charlene grabs his hand and he comments how most people, not even hospital staff, will do mean that moves you.

Salina: But you still learn something, and you learn something about the larger environment, and you learn that there's no reason for that to be an issue.

Nikki: Right.

Salina: You can touch someone's hand, right?

Salina: That's not going to get you sick, right?

Salina: And so I think I don't know, it was just a brilliant way to bring those points to a whole different group of people.

Nikki: So they use the front half of the episode, or maybe 1st third of the episode, to talk about myths, to kind of set them up and knock them know, you don't have to be gay, you can touch me.

Nikki: All of these myths.

Nikki: Then they use this character of Imogen, whose name I always struggle to say, imogen.

Nikki: They have brought in an external person that they can use as I want to use the word villain, but that feels maybe not super fair, but maybe it is.

Salina: I think with what she says we'll.

Nikki: Call her, I'm trying to square nice and kind here.

Nikki: She's a villain.

Salina: Yeah.

Nikki: So they use an external character to bring up some of the talking points.

Salina: And do the opposite of what we did with Kendall.

Salina: So before any of the next things that you're going to talk about happen, we already learned that she's kind of a pain in the b***.

Nikki: Right?

Nikki: Oh, good points.

Nikki: Right.

Nikki: So she and Julia clearly have a little bit of a history.

Nikki: They have, I guess, children about the same age.

Nikki: Payne and Imogen's child son, I think, are about the same age.

Nikki: And it's like a constant competition, competition between the two of them.

Nikki: I don't think Julia really cares.

Salina: No, it seems to be a one sided competition that she's just trying to get away.

Nikki: Know, Imogen's a pain in the b***.

Nikki: Then she overhears them talking with Kendall and puts the pieces together that she's heard rumors that the girls are planning that the women are planning a funeral for someone, and that she has heard it's someone with HIV, and more importantly, it's someone who's gay.

Nikki: And they use this part of the episode to present that viewpoint.

Nikki: That what the episode is named after, that this is killing all the right people, because these people have earned this by doing the things they do.

Nikki: And the women, one by one, I think, say different things to fight with her, to argue with her.

Nikki: So it's not just the gay community.

Nikki: Suzanne says, well, why isn't it happening to lesbians if that's the criteria for this disease?

Nikki: And Imogen uses that as a moment to say, like, I don't know about them.

Nikki: All I know is about the other ones.

Salina: Oh, you mean the same ignorant kind of argument that people still rely on today?

Salina: Just pure ignorance and oh, don't worry about that over there.

Nikki: Right.

Salina: What I'm talking about is this thing over here that I have a problem with.

Nikki: Exactly.

Nikki: So I really liked that part of things.

Nikki: Do you have more to add about either one of those two pieces of the episode?

Nikki: Before we talk about my second huge thing I liked, which is the contraception debate.

Salina: So I love that Julia kicks her out.

Nikki: Okay.

Salina: And I love that Know basically tells her that she's a hypocrite.

Salina: So we don't really know much about what Imogene has done or who she is.

Salina: You know, based on the things Julia says, she's no know, and she tells her as much.

Salina: And I thought all of that was well executed.

Salina: Where they lost me in the script was this whole rant about Hollywood that Julia goes on and this shift at the time to not show people sleeping around.

Salina: She talks about aggravation with why they couldn't do that in the first.

Salina: Place, AIDS or no AIDS, because it's virtuous, loyal, and classy.

Salina: I'm going to stop there and see if there's anything you want to add because I'm not sure I captured everything.

Nikki: It's the only thing on my things I don't like list.

Nikki: Yeah, no, I think you same.

Nikki: You caught exactly.

Nikki: I mean, that's it.

Nikki: She basically in trying to make the claim that no one deserves this, that this isn't happening to someone because of things they've deserved.

Nikki: She also then goes on to shame people who choose to have sex outside of marriage and choose to, in her words, sleep around.

Nikki: And it just in the context of the episode, it's tone deaf, but it's also just super duper judgy in trying to make the case that we should stop judging other people.

Salina: Well, so she says it's as if they found a whole new reason for people to have morals again.

Salina: And I'm back here screaming at the TV, whose morals, Julia?

Salina: Who's your morals?

Salina: It may not be for me, but I totally think there's a moral way to have multiple partners.

Salina: As long as you're honest about it, you're taking care of yourself.

Salina: Whose business is it but your own?

Salina: So I just don't think that she should be casting those kinds of judgments on people.

Salina: I don't understand.

Nikki: The line I wrote down was I'm talking about the only thing worse than all these people who never had any morals before AIDS are all you holier than thou types who think you're exempt from getting it.

Nikki: I think the use of holier than thou types combined with the only thing worse than all these people is people.

Salina: Like you admitting she thinks these people are bad.

Nikki: Yes.

Salina: Or falls into this amoral or immoral category.

Nikki: That's part of it.

Nikki: And then it's hypocritical to call imogen holier than thou when Julia is being holier than thou about those people.

Salina: Right.

Nikki: If that makes.

Salina: Only so we're on the same page.

Salina: That seemed to me the only unfortunate part of the episode.

Nikki: It just didn't make any sense to me.

Nikki: I don't mean to nitpick the script and whatever.

Nikki: I just wonder what was the decision behind that?

Nikki: I don't understand the value.

Nikki: What that added to the conversation?

Salina: Are you ever watching this is related but tangential.

Salina: Are you ever watching Gilmore Girls and thinking maybe you're just getting Amy Sherman Palladino's commentary on something through the voice of I feel like maybe this is something that was bothering LBT about the larger don't.

Salina: I wonder if this is some of the things that she felt, because maybe she does hold her moral standard of two humans in a monogamous relationship.

Salina: Maybe that is something that's a standard for her.

Salina: And for some reason it sort of felt like maybe we were getting a little LBT coming out there.

Salina: I don't know that for sure.

Salina: I do think that it matches up with the character of Julia, though.

Salina: It does.

Salina: So I want to say that this is what I think, because I never want to put thoughts in someone else's mouth because, well, that's so but I wonder if some of that was slipping through as, like an aggravation or a pain point for LBT with Hollywood in general.

Nikki: But man, what a shame in this episode that was otherwise so, like, perfect.

Nikki: Yes.

Nikki: We won't get into our ratings yet because we still have to talk about one other thing I really liked about this episode.

Salina: Okay.

Nikki: Which was the contraception debate.

Nikki: So I mentioned earlier that I felt like it was a really natural way to bring a lightning rod issue that's tangential to HIV and AIDS, but to bring it in, it felt very natural that a school would be having this debate.

Nikki: Whether it's 1987 or 2021, it's very natural this debate would be happening again.

Nikki: It didn't feel after school specially.

Nikki: I think the acting helped.

Nikki: So I tried to look into the woman that played the pro side.

Salina: Me, too.

Nikki: Did you find much about her?

Salina: I think she is like an actor who has just I thought, if memory serves, she's done just a lot of random TV shows.

Nikki: I think that's what I found, too.

Nikki: And she nailed so familiar to me, she nailed that character that she was trying to play.

Nikki: Some might call them holier than thou, I don't know.

Nikki: But she nailed that so well and put those arguments up so aggressively and so passionately.

Nikki: She cut Mary Jo off like she did all the things she was supposed to do there.

Salina: She feels like a real type of person.

Nikki: Yes.

Nikki: And I think that's what I liked about her, and that's what I mean to say.

Nikki: I think her delivery right, for sure.

Nikki: I think her delivery really if you're having this debate about contraception in school, I think parents get heated on either side.

Nikki: And she was very heated, and she very cleanly delivered the cons that she did, which was that providing condoms piques kids interest in sex, that parents know what's best for their kids, not the government, and that she hates when people make the argument that they're going to do it anyway, so that let's help them.

Nikki: I'm going to tell you, in probably 2019, 2020, sometime in the last couple of years, I've heard almost every single one of those arguments, indeed, Mary Jo's arguments back to her.

Nikki: She brought in gun control, man, if you can bring gun control into a contraception debate, you're luring me in.

Nikki: You're really getting me there.

Nikki: Because the way she did it was so nicely done.

Nikki: And then I think her two kind of interrelated final points were that it prevents HIV.

Nikki: We're not about preventing births anymore.

Nikki: We're talking about preventing deaths.

Nikki: And she talks about how I guess we should just play the clip.

Nikki: Let's just play the clip and let her it's definitely worth the listen, it's so good.

Salina: It.

Speaker C: What I am saying is that I have a dear, sweet, funny friend, 24 years old, not very much older than the kids that we are talking about here.

Speaker C: And he came to me this week and asked me to help plan his funeral because he's dying from AIDS.

Speaker C: Something that he got before he even knew what it was or how to prevent it.

Speaker C: I've been thinking a lot about his mother this week and what she might give for the opportunity that I have tonight, that we all still have here tonight, because now we know how to help prevent AIDS.

Speaker C: And I think that it really shouldn't matter what your personal views are about birth controls, because, you see, we're not just talking about preventing births anymore.

Speaker C: We're talking about preventing deaths.

Speaker C: 25,000 Americans have died, and we're still debating.

Speaker C: For me, this debate is over.

Speaker C: More important than what any civic leader or PTA or Board of education thinks about teenagers having sex or any immoral act that my daughter or your son might engage in is the bottom line that I don't think they should have to die for it.

Speaker C: Thank you.

Nikki: This is a really good it's just so well done.

Salina: I watched this again last night.

Salina: In addition to hearing this now, I mean, it just makes me cry.

Nikki: It's so beautiful.

Salina: It's really beautiful.

Salina: I think it's so true to Mary Jo's character.

Salina: One thing we haven't touched on is she was looking in the last scene before Julia goes off on Imogene to make Julia mad because she wanted to get up there and she wanted to be a yeah, but she didn't need to be because she did something that was more her, I think arguably more stirring and more right for the situation.

Salina: I don't think it didn't need a Julia takedown.

Salina: It needed an impassioned plea, and that's what she what else?

Nikki: One thing that struck me the second or third time I watched it was that we do build ourselves up for the Julia takedowns.

Nikki: I got to be honest, this almost was more powerful than most of the Julia takedowns I've seen.

Nikki: Julia's louder.

Nikki: Julia's more in your face.

Nikki: Julia's wittier.

Nikki: She's super witty, but the power with which Mary Jo said it was amazing.

Salina: Well, so the thing that got me the so just as a reminder for folks, tony Goldwyn Kendall comes in.

Salina: He and Anthony have been together for something.

Salina: They're working on a school project for Anthony or something that he's helping him with, and I don't remember.

Salina: Anyways, they come in so that we know why they're there, because why would they be at Mary Jo's PTA debate but is to offer some moral know, because you don't really get this from the clip, but he's in the crowd when she's talking about her dear friend having AIDS, dying.

Salina: His face work is amazing.

Nikki: Yeah.

Salina: And you see, like, I think I read 152 emotions on his face and the passage of his entire life passed through his eyes.

Salina: I don't know how he did that, but it was so good.

Salina: And I was like, man, he's a really good actor.

Salina: And so it was that interplay her beautiful words up against the emotions running across his face, it does it for me every time.

Nikki: So good.

Nikki: So that's all I wanted to say.

Nikki: I think that was the last thing I really wanted to mention that I liked about the episode.

Salina: Well, I'm going to take this gently into the night, more so than normal, but would you like to rate this sucker?

Nikki: I would.

Salina: Okay.

Salina: Did you have a rating scale?

Nikki: I do.

Salina: Okay.

Nikki: It's not the most compelling.

Nikki: It's well played debates.

Salina: I'll go with it.

Salina: I sat on this rating scale for a long time, and it eventually just went no rating scale.

Nikki: Maybe should have gone with condoms.

Nikki: But I'm going with well played debates.

Salina: Because to me, that was I'll join you.

Nikki: I loved everything about Kendall's storyline leading up to it, but the debate was such a it was the peak of the episode, and it was just so well done.

Nikki: So that's going to be my rating scale, and I'm going to give it 100%.

Nikki: Five of five.

Salina: All right.

Nikki: Honestly, it was so well done.

Nikki: I think the fact that we both watched it in 2021 and it resonated as firmly as it did on both sides, if you focus on just the HIV storyline or if you focus just on the contraceptive access storyline, it resonated so strongly with me.

Nikki: And I think that's amazing.

Salina: Yeah.

Salina: And that's why I say or that's why I would say it is so progressive.

Salina: It is so progressive that it is something that has in many ways, I think withstood the test of time, it.

Nikki: Was so ahead of its time that it's still ahead of its time in 2021.

Salina: Yeah.

Salina: So I also gave it a five out of five.

Salina: And it's beautiful.

Salina: It's an important story.

Salina: It's just something that's near and dear to my heart.

Salina: But I also thought there were a lot of good moments of levity, so we didn't just fall out in the floor.

Salina: And we've talked about this a lot, but even the educational moments were just so well written that I never felt like I was getting the old bait and switch.

Salina: Like, sometimes I did on, like, an episode of Saved by the.

Salina: And I just love again that LBT used this show and her platform to tackle something bigger than her, something bigger than it being the show, something bigger than all of us.

Salina: It was really impressive.

Nikki: Agreed.

Salina: Going to need something after this.

Salina: I don't know.

Salina: A brownie cookie.

Salina: Anybody got a cookie?

Salina: Did you have any combination 80s, Southern or unknown references?

Nikki: That's where I put Maureen Reagan.

Salina: Okay.

Nikki: I don't really have anything more to add than what we talked about earlier.

Nikki: She's President Reagan's daughter, and I don't know why they called her strapping.

Salina: Yeah, maybe she'll be a future extra sugar.

Salina: We'll dig in deep.

Salina: Who knows?

Salina: 80s things.

Salina: Oh, I had none.

Salina: No combos.

Salina: Sorry.

Nikki: I put chiclets here.

Nikki: It's what Bernice offered the ladies when she heard they'd gotten some bad news.

Salina: Oh, that's good.

Salina: Yeah.

Nikki: I don't know that it's an 80s.

Salina: Candy, but it feels old.

Nikki: Feels old.

Salina: Except for chiclets.

Salina: Love chiclets.

Salina: I haven't seen one in 15 years, but I love them.

Nikki: That's all I had.

Salina: Okay.

Salina: I had calling julia the terminator.

Salina: I just can't remember if we've ever actually said it before.

Salina: I think we have.

Salina: They've definitely done it.

Salina: I just don't know if we've called it out in the 80s references.

Nikki: No, we have not.

Salina: Okay, who knows?

Salina: I know.

Nikki: It doesn't matter.

Salina: I'm going to tell you what I'm not going to do.

Salina: I'm not going to word search.

Salina: 22 wait, now, 26 episodes of a show to find out she's going to.

Nikki: Word search and report back.

Salina: You don't know me.

Salina: Another 80s thing needing an educational episode about HIV and contraception just felt very of the time.

Salina: I don't know.

Salina: We would get that now.

Salina: You know what I'm saying?

Salina: Yeah.

Salina: I think a lot of people might think the problem's fixed.

Salina: Southern things.

Nikki: Vanderbilt University, I think that's where she said is that where she said pain went or is that where she said Imogen's son went?

Salina: One of them.

Salina: One of them.

Nikki: Anyway, it's a university in Tennessee.

Nikki: The whole concept of frenemies who are all smiles while they tear each other down with passive aggressive remarks and facial expressions, that's how I refer to the Imogen and Julia interaction.

Nikki: That feels very Southern to does and.

Salina: Northern women, western women tell us yeah, is this a thing we all do to each other?

Salina: Well, hold first of all, we don't all do it.

Salina: I'm just saying, like, sometimes you see it happening in the environment around you.

Salina: I ain't got time for all that.

Salina: But it definitely is like a thing.

Nikki: It's a thing.

Salina: And I'm just curious if we are attributing it to the south or if it really is truly Southern, but we have mentioned something in that vein on the show before.

Nikki: Yeah.

Nikki: And I also had the French Quarter and the New Orleans style version of a closer walk to me.

Nikki: Closer walk to thee, not me.

Nikki: The French Quarter is the oldest neighborhood in New Orleans and it includes Bourbon Street, which if you know New Orleans, you should know Bourbon Street.

Nikki: And Salina just lifted her shirt up in what would you call that?

Nikki: What's that game?

Nikki: Charades.

Nikki: Salina just charaded pulling up her shirt.

Salina: Yes, it was.

Nikki: I feel like I should clarify.

Nikki: And I also looked up a closer walk with thee because it sounds southern to me.

Salina: Is it a Southern gospel?

Nikki: Wikipedia says circumstantial evidence strongly suggests that it dates back to Southern African American churches in the 19th century.

Nikki: However, they also quote a story disagreeing with this.

Nikki: So the origins are not fully known, but there seem to be some southern roots.

Salina: Okay.

Nikki: And I think I just called it the wrong name at least one or two times.

Nikki: A closer walk with thee And I think I called it a closer walk.

Salina: To thee well, anyway, we'll give you a pass.

Salina: We give you a pass because you looked up the history.

Salina: I did.

Salina: So I think the only one I had on there, other than what you've already shared is the name imaging.

Nikki: Oh, yeah.

Salina: That feels pretty southern.

Nikki: It took me a couple of runs at spelling it.

Salina: I'm not even sure it's spelled correctly in my notes, but that's okay.

Salina: Hey, references that we need to talk about or you just needed to look up?

Nikki: Nope, I don't have anything.

Salina: I was maybe you can answer this.

Salina: Anyway, so at the beginning, some organization is mentioned by Suzanne as an example of imaging one upping.

Salina: Julia.

Salina: She says if Pain joins SAE Sigma.

Nikki: Alpha Epsilon, it's a fraternity.

Salina: Okay.

Salina: That's what I needed to know.

Salina: See, look at that.

Nikki: I think Sigma Alpha Epsilon you should.

Salina: Have seen me looking up that I couldn't find.

Nikki: Oh, no, I almost put that in.

Nikki: I think I was going to put it in Southern, but honestly, I didn't feel like looking up the roots of a fraternity.

Salina: Hey, you answered my question.

Salina: So nothing like that came up in my search, though.

Nikki: Oh, weird.

Salina: Yeah, it seems like.

Salina: And I even think I tried to run it against the school or something.

Salina: I was like, maybe it's just with that one school, I really should have caught on.

Salina: That was a frat.

Nikki: Yeah.

Salina: Okay.

Salina: Wkxj.

Salina: This is Anthony's.

Salina: Way to extra credit.

Salina: Oh, yeah.

Salina: But it's actually a radio station licensed in Tennessee currently.

Nikki: Oh, weird.

Salina: And we've already mentioned Maureen at length.

Salina: We love her.

Salina: We don't know her, but we love her.

Salina: Cut lines.

Nikki: I had a few.

Nikki: I'm going to say the most relevant one that I say a few.

Nikki: I had two.

Nikki: Charlene talks about blowing up all of her daddy's condoms.

Nikki: And then she goes on to say that she was really confused about the facts of life just in general.

Nikki: She ended up injuring herself and putting, like, a Kotex maxi pad on her face because she thought it was a giant band Aid, as one does.

Nikki: I bring this up because in that discussion of the contraception debate, it just feels to me like, I don't think she's alone in this.

Nikki: And it's hard for parents to talk to their kids about sex, and those conversations don't naturally come up between a parent and child.

Nikki: I think if you're not listening, I think kids ask a lot of questions that lead you there.

Nikki: So I bring that one up because I think it's relevant just to say to parents who are listening, don't let your kids wonder.

Nikki: Don't let them make up definitions and assume that maxi pads belong on their forehead.

Nikki: Help them understand.

Salina: Although a tampon really can't stop a nosebleed.

Nikki: Well, a maxi pad could stop bleeding, too.

Salina: That's true.

Nikki: But you just thought it was a.

Salina: Better walk around with your pad on your head, right?

Salina: Is what we're saying.

Salina: The lessons in this show are just immeasurable.

Salina: So I had an absolutely different thought.

Salina: I did note that line.

Salina: My thought was I didn't really believe that her dad was wearing a lot of condoms because there was eleven children.

Nikki: Good point.

Salina: I'm just saying.

Salina: I was like but word of there, it feels like maybe it should have been like the brothers or something.

Salina: But I know she's the oldest, so maybe that didn't work anyways.

Salina: Maybe it's just not a joke.

Salina: That's really going to land if you know the history.

Salina: All right, well, that was the cut lines.

Nikki: Okay, well, I think that wraps up this episode for us.

Nikki: So next episode, episode five, half an.

Salina: Air bubble off, which is awfully close to off the beam.

Salina: I'm just saying we're tracking it.

Nikki: Okay.

Salina: I'm very interested in this and obviously very scary because y'all should see Nikki's face.

Nikki: I'm scared.

Nikki: So we'd love everyone to follow along with us and engage Instagram and Facebook at sweettv.

Nikki: Email is sweettvpod@gmail.com and we're online at WW sweettv.com.

Nikki: And hang tight for extra sugar.

Nikki: It's kind of a serious one this week because this is a serious episode.

Nikki: Salina is going to talk about LBT's personal experience with HIV and also about LGBTQ representation on TV and then how Designing Women fits into that history with this particular episode.

Salina: Well, you know what that means.

Nikki: What does it mean?

Salina: Salina, we'll see you around the bend by.

Salina: Welcome to today's extra sugar.

Salina: I'm going to be honest, it's kind of a serious one, but it was serious content.

Nikki: It was kind of a serious episode.

Salina: Yeah.

Salina: So we got some things to cover, though.

Salina: And I mean, I'm excited to have the conversation.

Salina: I just want to give that pre warning that, I don't know, it's going to be like maybe not a lot of laugh.

Salina: Is that what that was?

Salina: I'm sorry?

Salina: To laugh?

Salina: I don't know what that was.

Salina: Actually.

Salina: I'll work on it.

Salina: But here's the things that we're going to cover, the real life story behind this episode.

Salina: Then I'd like for us to talk about how this specific episode fits into LGBTQ TV history.

Salina: Okay.

Salina: And then I'd also like to talk about some other standouts in that history that I think you'll find interesting, that I'm hoping our dear listener will find interesting, and things I think that just really put a finer point on how much things have changed in the last, well, I would say 35 years.

Salina: But some of this history is way prior to 87.

Salina: Okay.

Salina: And then the other thing I want to say is, please, if there's anything that you want to ask about or if there's anything that you want to add, just be like, Salina, shut up.

Nikki: I might not say it that way, but I'll get your attention.

Salina: Okay, so gosh, I hope hey, you.

Salina: Yeah, or like some dancing.

Salina: Do like a little dance.

Salina: Oh, you guys, you're missing it.

Salina: She's dancing.

Salina: It's good.

Nikki: I don't know that I'd call that dancing.

Salina: We're going to call it dancing today.

Salina: So we'll start then with the backstory for killing all the right people.

Salina: Nikki, you know the story.

Salina: So really, dear listener, this is for you.

Salina: As I look at Nikki, she just.

Nikki: Looked me dead in the eye.

Nikki: This is for you.

Salina: You're my stand in, right?

Salina: Okay.

Salina: Actually, so I had to go back because you mentioned something in our season one recap about LBT's mom passing, but we didn't talk about why.

Nikki: Right.

Salina: But we did talk about when.

Salina: But I had to go back and remind myself.

Salina: She did pass away in 1986, I think you told us.

Salina: It was the day before Thanksgiving.

Nikki: Yes, that sounds right.

Salina: So what we didn't talk about then is that LBT's mom did die of AIDS, and this is something that she contracted from a blood transfusion during open heart surgery.

Salina: I don't know that everyone is steeped in HIV history, so I am going to say a couple of things for, like, a reference point.

Salina: Okay?

Salina: So at this point in time, we're still towards the beginning of the AIDS crisis, right?

Salina: First cases reported in 81.

Salina: We think it probably started sometime in the late 70s.

Salina: But I think the real point here is that I have talked to people who were alive at this point in time.

Salina: I mean, I know we were alive in 86, but we were one.

Salina: Yeah, I don't know that we were really helpful at this point in time, and I think you have, too.

Salina: And they just talk about the energy just being weird.

Salina: Because you have to remember, guys, this is pre COVID.

Salina: We had never experienced something on this level, not in modern society.

Salina: I think people are scared.

Salina: They're confused.

Salina: There is a ton of misunderstanding.

Salina: There is a great deal of misinformation.

Salina: And I think it's fair to say that even as, like, the scientific community is learning things and the medical community is learning things, fear was bigger than even the knowledge that was coming in.

Salina: Do you think that's fair to say?

Nikki: It sounds like it was.

Nikki: It certainly sounds like this was a virus.

Nikki: People didn't understand.

Nikki: They didn't fully understand the transmission.

Nikki: They kind of thought they understood the population it was happening to, but they weren't totally sure.

Nikki: So there were just a ton of questions swirling, and then they didn't know where they fell into all of that, which is ultimately what everybody's afraid of.

Nikki: Like, where am I in all of this?

Salina: Well, and it's not just people.

Salina: I think the other point is this is also like being a healthcare provider.

Salina: Does not, and certainly did not at that time exempt you from being scared, from your fear being bigger than the knowledge, from stigma, or, frankly, from being just.

Salina: That's not how that works.

Salina: I wish it was.

Salina: It sure would be helpful if it was.

Salina: But I'll also back up to a point in the episode, which is where Kendall talks about how some of the nurses refused to come in his room.

Salina: And then I am mentioning homophobia because you mentioned certain populations or whatever.

Salina: So in the beginning of the AIDS crisis, epidemic, whatever you want to call it, people thought that it was only in gay men.

Salina: So even when evidence started to emerge to the contrary, that was still the predominant thought, and that mythology stuck around.

Salina: And I would not be surprised today to hear some people still have that confusion.

Nikki: Yeah, to call it the gay disease.

Salina: To call it that, or just think that somehow this is a and I have my quotation, hands up, guys, a bullet they can dodge.

Salina: Right.

Salina: And that is just not really how that works.

Salina: It is fair to say that it did hit the LGBT community really hard, particularly gay men, and for lots of reasons.

Salina: But none of these had a d*** thing to do with someone's sexual orientation.

Salina: So I am mentioning all of this because I think it plays into LBT's perspective on her mom's experience in the hospital in the real life events that inspired this episode.

Salina: So here's the deal.

Salina: She's on the same floor of the hospital with 17 other young men.

Salina: And I've watched interviews.

Salina: I've read stories.

Salina: And the way she describes it is that basically everyone's dying along in their rooms.

Salina: This is par for the course from other things I've read or seen.

Salina: The Normal Heart is a fantastic movie that I believe is updated from a play.

Salina: But the point that comes across in all of these time period pieces is that patients were kept very isolated from other patients and even staff.

Salina: She recalls her mom being treated horribly, and they were, like, kicking medicine into the rooms and buckets.

Nikki: Oh, my gosh.

Salina: And when they did come into the room, it sounds like they were basically in hazmat suits.

Salina: I mean, I think we know that they were in PPE, but still, I think you just have to kind of put yourself on the other side of that equation and have to think like, nobody wants to be well, some people want to be alone when they're sick, but you know what I'm saying?

Salina: You don't want to be that kind of alone when you're sick, when things are that unsure, when you're not sure what's happening.

Salina: So just to paint that picture for what's going on.

Salina: And then we come to the crux of it.

Salina: One day while she's visiting her mom, she overhears a nurse say, well, if you ask me, this disease has one thing going for it.

Salina: It's killing all the right people.

Salina: And, I mean, we heard it in the episode.

Salina: We talked about it in our recap.

Salina: I mean, it just sends chills up my spine every time.

Salina: It makes me sick in the pit of my stomach.

Salina: Ultimately, what the nurse said that day ends up in the episode.

Salina: LVT dedicated the episode to her mom.

Salina: She wanted it to be a little bit of justice for her and a little bit of justice for those 17 young men who also died there on that floor with her mom.

Nikki: Wow.

Salina: So I just wanted to stop real quick before we move on and just ask you.

Salina: I know you know that story, but how does that story hit you in 2021 when we know the things that we do?

Nikki: I think that's the important part.

Nikki: As you were telling this story, I'm feeling so bad for her mom and for those patients who were isolated.

Nikki: But I also not being a first responder, not being a nurse or a doctor, if I put myself in their shoes, it's hard.

Nikki: I don't want to place too much blame on them in those early days because there was so much they didn't know, and they already put their lives on the line for so many other things.

Nikki: I think about COVID as well.

Nikki: We have this pandemic that has so many unanswered questions.

Nikki: Information has come so much faster with COVID scientific information than it ever could have with HIV and AIDS.

Nikki: But I think there were a lot of unanswered questions in the beginning, and you had a lot of people providing health care who they're just human.

Nikki: They're humans, and so they have families, and they have lives too.

Nikki: So I think that there are two sides to that story.

Nikki: And I hate that her mom was treated that way.

Nikki: Knowing what we know now, I certainly know that wasn't right or fair, and she shouldn't.

Nikki: And none of those men should have been treated that way, because people who are dying and people who are sick deserve dignity like everyone else.

Nikki: At the same time, I'm hearing you say that, and I'm thinking, oh, gosh, but how scared must those providers have been too, not having any information or minimal?

Salina: And I think it's really important to say that these are not completely overlapping circles of people who were both fearful and homophobic.

Nikki: Right.

Salina: So I think that my hope is that nurse and the things that she said are more of an outlier, even at those times today.

Salina: Whatever.

Salina: I think that is a very important point of clarification.

Nikki: Now, what the nurse said is what wouldn't have been right in any environment, because no one deserves to die a certain way.

Nikki: No, no one deserves to get an infection based on anything, any life choices.

Nikki: You don't deserve to get sick and die.

Nikki: So that what the nurse said.

Nikki: My opinion, 2030 years later doesn't change.

Nikki: Yeah, absolutely.

Nikki: Totally in the wrong.

Salina: Yeah.

Nikki: It made for excellent TV, though.

Salina: Well, and I think the way that I've heard her say it in interviews, LBT, was that she sort of snaps her head up and says, oh, I'm using that.

Nikki: Yeah.

Salina: Because I think she knew it was a thing.

Nikki: It probably was reflective of at least some amount of perspective in the nation.

Nikki: And to be able to call it.

Salina: So broadly, I'm afraid it probably was a scary amount, to be honest.

Salina: I actually think for me, what it does is it reminds me that we were born at a really unique time.

Salina: So we were born after HIV was a thing, so we were never alive in the time before that.

Salina: Now, I do think there's like it's like a dividing line because I do think that it had that significant of an effect on the world for sure, at large.

Salina: Right.

Nikki: Yeah.

Salina: It changed so many things and so it seems to me that we don't have that before perspective, which puts us in an interesting spot.

Salina: At the same time, a cure didn't come along until we were like ten.

Salina: And so I think if we didn't see it directly, that fear was in the environment and there was still a lot of way more misunderstandings and misinformation then than there is today.

Salina: And so I just think that's a really unique place to have been.

Salina: So we have been able to feel the progress of today, but we were able to also feel some of that.

Salina: I think that more heightened fear before there was like a light at the end of the tunnel.

Salina: So that was sort of my perspective on it.

Salina: So the next thing that I wanted to talk about is then this specific episode and its place in LGBTQ TV history.

Salina: And I also want to talk a little bit about why that matters because we have had very lengthy conversations about how there is a lot of things in this show that haven't aged well, which I want to continue to reiterate.

Salina: We are not blasting the show.

Salina: We are just trying to point out the differences because a lot of times I think that shows progress.

Salina: From everything I know, LBT is a progressive, so I would expect nothing but for society to progress and for us to progress out of some of the storylines.

Salina: Right.

Salina: But for me, this is the best example we've seen of where Designing Women was heads and shoulders above its peers.

Salina: What do you think?

Nikki: I think that's probably true.

Nikki: I actually ended up in a little bit of a rabbit hole about other shows around this time that were doing HIV related storylines.

Nikki: And as far as I can tell, there really weren't that many.

Nikki: There were a few, but not that many.

Nikki: And I think this was one of the ones that I think took that progressive view and used it as almost an informational point versus a dramatic storyline, if that makes sense.

Nikki: So instead of just mining it for television value and drama value, they used it as a platform to talk about the myths and the truths.

Nikki: And I get the sense other shows weren't doing it that way.

Nikki: But admittedly, the only show that I'm aware of that had an HIV episode around this time that I've watched was Golden Girls, and one of the characters had a scare.

Salina: And that was 1990.

Nikki: It was later.

Salina: Yeah, for sure.

Salina: So you're giving me a perfect lead into my point about what puts this show heads and shoulders above its peers, and that's the fact that Hollywood was not touching the issue, not on the small screen, not on the big screen, not a lot.

Salina: I'm not saying there's zero instances.

Salina: I'm just saying there wasn't enough being said.

Salina: And actors had shied away from taking on LGBTQ roles.

Salina: And then here comes Designing Women, a show created by a woman led by a predominantly female cast comes in and does what pretty much no one else will at the time.

Salina: They confronted the myths, the misperceptions, and then they also confronted homophobia and anti gay moralizing.

Salina: Nobody else was doing that worth noting.

Salina: She could have played it safe.

Salina: Her experience with her mom was AIDS through a blood transfusion.

Salina: She could have used that as the storyline, and it would have been easy enough to make, like, imogene someone who had that experience and made her, like, a softer character.

Salina: But instead, she went ahead and tackled both issues.

Salina: She tackled the lack of HIV knowledge in this country.

Salina: She tackled homophobia.

Salina: I think it's a heck of an important contribution.

Salina: And then the other thing is, in the same episode, she goes ahead and she talks about contraception use among teens.

Salina: I mean, you want to talk about taking a big bite.

Nikki: Yeah.

Salina: And she gives an argument that just can't be argued with even today, even though I'd say that argument has shifted ever slightly.

Salina: But your kid having safer sex is better than your kid dying in a story.

Salina: So I did have that.

Salina: Golden Girls is also seen as a trailblazer on LGBTQ TV history, and I wanted to share that with you as a Golden Girls lover.

Nikki: It's a delightful show and they did amazing things.

Salina: It is.

Salina: And I did start kind of sneak peeking around and watching a little bit.

Nikki: Of it as well, and you love it.

Salina: And also realized that Mishak Taylor is on the very first episode.

Salina: There you go.

Nikki: It all comes full circle.

Salina: It's all very 80s.

Salina: So moving on, then, to talking about LGBTQ representation more broadly on TV.

Salina: So that's just such a big part of this episode.

Salina: And then it got me thinking a lot about how this connects to the things that we try and talk about, about Southerners and stereotypes and why representation matters.

Salina: Historically, I think we can argue that Southerners have been underrepresented and misrepresented in entertainment.

Salina: We see that with LGBTQ, and both can be stigmatizing.

Salina: And as we continue to learn, it can be very dangerous.

Salina: So I want to plug visible out on television.

Salina: This is a five part docuseries that explores the history of American LGBTQ movement through the lens of television.

Salina: It's also my primary source today for today's Extra Sugar.

Salina: It's how I learned some of the things that I did not know about this particular history, like through that lens of TV.

Salina: It is on Apple TV.

Salina: So if you have Apple TV, I say, run my friends, and don't walk, because it is excellent.

Salina: I cannot say enough good things about it.

Salina: I want to hit some highlights.

Salina: It is like 5 hours worth of TV.

Salina: So are you ready?

Salina: I'm ready.

Salina: Just kidding.

Salina: I just wanted to see if you would pass out.

Salina: So I want to highlight some things that really stood out to me because 5 hours seems like a long time.

Salina: And then I think at that point, they might want to know if I'll be paying them for all of the things I'm sharing that they've pulled together.

Salina: But I have a question for you first, just to get this started, if you had to take a guess, or maybe you already know.

Salina: You know a lot of things.

Salina: Prior to 1969, this is when the Stonewall uprising occurred.

Salina: How many states do you think homosexuality was a crime in?

Nikki: Probably almost all of them, if not all of them.

Salina: And look at that.

Salina: See, I knew you'd get it.

Salina: 49 out of 50.

Nikki: There you go.

Salina: Okay, so I'm mentioning this for a very specific reason.

Salina: For those who don't know, Stonewall is a watershed moment in the gay rights movement.

Salina: We'll link to an article so you can learn more about it, because that could be its own extra sugar.

Salina: And so I want to be careful about not being able to get through the rest of this.

Salina: But it is a very interesting history and definitely worth the read.

Salina: I am mentioning this within the course of TV, actually, because it wasn't there.

Salina: This whole thing happened that galvanized an entire community of people to come together and was such a big mile marker in the gay rights movement, and it was hardly covered at all.

Salina: I think it probably made like I want to say they said like the 6th or 10th page of the newspaper or something.

Salina: I think there were like five days of protest.

Salina: I feel like I need like an on the spot fact checker, but I'm just telling you today, that would not go uncovered.

Nikki: Yeah.

Salina: And so I think even that lack of visibility is a part of this story.

Salina: Backing up from that in the early days TV's code of practices.

Salina: Sure wish I could have found that TV's code of practices around swearing in season one, but at the time, they prohibited any positive portrayal of homosexuality.

Salina: And so we wind up with a fair amount of wait for it homicidal, lesbians and also gay stories ending in suicide.

Salina: So these are the early days.

Salina: Positive LGBTQ portrayals do not show up until the 1970s.

Salina: I'm going to just level with you.

Salina: I can't believe it was as early as the 70s.

Salina: That feels early, which is it feels sad to say, but also, like, I don't know.

Salina: I feel like I've been on the planet long enough to know that I was surprised, but I got a Designing Women connection for you.

Salina: Okay.

Salina: So in 1972, we get the first TV movie to depict homosexuality in a sympathetic light.

Salina: The name of the movie.

Salina: Is that certain?

Salina: Summer.

Salina: It's like, about a young kid who his parents are divorced.

Salina: He goes to stay with his dad for the summer, and he winds up learning that his dad's gay and he winds up meeting his partner.

Salina: And it sort of explores that dynamic and that relationship and the father son relationship and how this changes the course of his life.

Salina: And it's a coming of age story.

Salina: And here's the Designing Women connection.

Salina: It features someone from the regular cast of Designing Women.

Salina: Do you want to hazard any guess at who might have appeared in the movie?

Nikki: I want to say delta.

Salina: Brooke I want to go and tell you as a man, Mishak Taylor, regular cast.

Salina: So yes.

Salina: Who is regular cast but Hal Holbrook.

Nikki: Okay.

Nikki: I don't even think of him as regular cast.

Salina: Oh, well, we just finished a whole.

Nikki: Episode he wasn't in.

Nikki: That was a misleading question.

Salina: So sorry.

Nikki: Fine.

Salina: This is Nikki over here.

Salina: Was he the dad?

Salina: Having a trouble not getting the question right?

Salina: Yeah, he was the dad.

Salina: Okay.

Salina: And so in case you guys don't know, because you may not know Hal Holbrook by name, hal Holbrook plays Reese Watson, who is husband to Dixie Carter Allah, julia Sugarbaker in real life, and also Julia Sugarbaker's love interest on the show.

Nikki: I think you mean boyfriend, man, friend.

Salina: Law.

Salina: Your friend.

Salina: So the censors I wanted to share this because I think this is just signs of the time they made them add something at the end where he winds up saying, quote, I wouldn't choose this, but it's who I am talking about, being gay.

Nikki: The censors made him at that.

Salina: Made him at it.

Nikki: Doesn't that feel progressive, though?

Salina: Well, I will tell you this.

Salina: The activists didn't say so I feel like I'm not sure that's a call for me to make.

Salina: But the I can tell you activists didn't.

Salina: But at the same time, it was essentially seen as a boon for the greater cause.

Salina: So I want to give another movie example, which is A Question of Love.

Salina: This was a TV movie that is based on a real life story where the woman is denied custody because she was in a relationship with a woman.

Salina: The reason I'm bringing this up, besides that being a terrible story and I'm so sad that that happened in real life is because there were three touches allowed in that movie between the two women and no kissing.

Salina: So I think some of it is like I want to back up to the other movie and say, I can understand how you would see that as being progressive because I just can without us going down that whole road.

Salina: What I think the problem is, too, is censors stepping in and changing content to make it more palatable and acceptable to the main public and not really taking into consideration actual like people who are LGBTQ.

Nikki: Does that make sense?

Nikki: It does.

Salina: So we're only at 78, so we're going to flash way forward to when Ellen came out.

Salina: This is another huge watershed moment on television.

Salina: And I think could argue one could argue is like the beginning of a whole new era on television within those next few years because we wind up getting Will and Grace and then we wind up getting the first run of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy not long after that.

Salina: Queer as folk.

Salina: The L word.

Salina: I mean, the Doors just eventually in those years afterwards, swing wide open.

Salina: But I wanted to just ask, do you have any memories of Ellen coming out on Know?

Nikki: I really don't.

Nikki: I really don't.

Nikki: I know it was a big thing and it's something I've looked into over time and sort of how that happened and she's talked about it quite a bit and how it really hurt her career for a while.

Nikki: So I know that, but I don't really remember it.

Nikki: I've never known Ellen, not as Ellen who's gay.

Nikki: That's just part of what I've always known about her.

Salina: Okay, maybe it's because I've always just been a huge TV watcher.

Nikki: That was the other thing.

Nikki: I wasn't sitting around watching Ellen At, however old, that would have made us 15, 1112, whatever.

Nikki: Yeah, I wasn't sitting around 2072, I was on MTV.

Nikki: I was watching TRL and I don't remember them.

Nikki: I would be surprised if they didn't cover it on MTV News, but I don't remember it.

Salina: Yeah, it was everywhere.

Salina: I mean, it was absolutely everywhere and it was just know they were teasing it like mean it was being covered just all the time.

Salina: And I remember watching that episode because it was such a huge deal for that to happen.

Salina: I'm glad that you said something about how she's talked about how that really messed with her career for a while because that is very true and that was one thing that I just wanted to share, is that it wasn't all roses.

Salina: There were just tons of protest death threats all around.

Salina: And then there was a local Birmingham station that wouldn't air it.

Salina: They played clips from that episode because I definitely don't remember everything that happens.

Salina: I mean, she literally just says I'm gay.

Salina: And the idea of someone being like, oh, we won't air.

Salina: This is just so, like, I can't even get started because I'll never stop.

Salina: Also, advertisers dropped out, including Wendy's and Chrysler.

Nikki: I do remember reading about the advertisers dropping her.

Salina: And then there was people boycotting Disney because it was ABC property, which is owned by so, anyways, in addition to all these shows, kind of like coming into the environment in maybe like the next year and then like three to five years after that.

Salina: Just a lot of shows being out there today.

Salina: It's hard to think of a show that doesn't have at least one kind of LGBTQ storyline or a main character.

Salina: I think what I'll say just to wrap this up, is that it's pretty cool that we've been able to see a lot of that progress in our lifetime, both with just representation on TV, but also the great strides that we've seen in HIV.

Salina: I don't think every generation has the opportunity to say that, so we started sad, but I thought we'd end on a happy note.

Salina: Yay.

Salina: Things are getting better.

Salina: And then I just want to say thank you for listening to me, Nikki.

Salina: Thank you for listening to me.

Salina: Listener her and that's it for this edition of Extra Sugar.


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