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Designing Women S5 E13 - All-You-Can-Eat Pearls

Updated: Jan 18

This one was chock-full of lessons: 1) Don’t buy real pearls – literally no one can tell the difference. 2) If you do wear real pearls, don’t wear them to the buffet. 3) Charlene and Mary Jo show us what NOT to do in a buffet sitch. 

Speaking of buffets, Nikki’s got an all-new “Nibbles” segment up her sleeves. And we’re tacking on a new segment for the rest of season 5 called “Suzanne Watch” because we noticed some VERY interesting body language in this one. 

Come back on Thursday for an “Extra Sugar” where we’ll talk all about the crime, or uh, art, of counterfeiting. Which it is kinda depends on who’s behind it.

Come on y’all, let’s get into it! 



Salina: Hey, Nikki.

Nikki: Hey, Salina.

Salina: Hey, everyone.

Salina: And welcome to sweet tea and tv.

Salina: Hey, y'all.

Salina: Well, there's those delaying it.

Salina: You want to talk about some pearls or something?

Nikki: Season five.

Nikki: Episode 13, pearls of Wisdom.

Nikki: The IMDb episode description is while Suzanne tries out for the evening news, she shows the other ladies her $4,500 pearl necklace and mocks Mary Jo's costume necklace.

Nikki: To get even, Mary Jo switches the two.

Nikki: This backfires when she and Charlene are at a salad bar and she loses the necklace.

Nikki: Meanwhile, Anthony has weird dreams about him and Julia.

Nikki: Air date January 7, 1991.

Nikki: Again, that's tomorrow for us here in 2024.

Salina: Oh, it sure is.

Nikki: We're calling this one all you can eat pearls.

Nikki: It was written by Pam Norris, and it was directed by David Trainor.

Nikki: So, thinking about general reactions, what do you have?

Salina: I think we've entered the space where the show already has a problem.

Salina: Oh, yeah.

Salina: In my mind, if Suzanne becomes a lifestyle reporter, we would focus something about funny shenanigans happening there and not on a string of pearls that she was bragging.

Nikki: Oh.

Salina: I think it may also explain this weird decision to do another tv related line right after Bernice's public access.

Salina: Oh, that was kind of sitting with me for a bit, like, why do we do that?

Salina: Oh, right.

Salina: We're scrambling.

Salina: How about for you?

Nikki: I wanted to know, again, I'm always the superficial one.

Nikki: I wanted to know if you would ever share a dream like Anthony was having about Julia with a coworker in a space as close as this.

Nikki: So, like, he says it to Charlene and Mary Jo that that's what he's been dreaming about, and they immediately turn around and bring it up to Julia, which tells me that I would never say a word about it to those coworkers.

Salina: No.

Nikki: Why would you do that?

Salina: Yeah.

Salina: No, I would never tell.

Nikki: Terrible.

Salina: Was really.

Salina: I don't think I've ever really had a night after night recurring dream anyway.

Nikki: No, not like one time or maybe.

Salina: It'Ll happen, like, six years later or something, but it's definitely not like night after night.

Salina: I'd be going to the therapist for sure.

Salina: I'd be like, what's wrong with my.

Nikki: Wrong with my.

Nikki: I agree.

Nikki: I also felt like, between Mary Jo's pearl exchange at the beginning, that entire buffet scene, and then the Julia Anthony scene in the middle, I thought this episode had really excellent physical humor, which is like my, like that Mary Jo Pearl exchange scene, and then even the buffet scene felt very Lucille Ball, which that's like, my kind of humor.

Nikki: So I loved all of that.

Salina: Shenanigans.

Salina: Shenanigans.

Nikki: I also really like the twist at the end where we find out Suzanne's weren't real either.

Salina: Yes.

Nikki: And then the other thing that stuck with me, which is sort of how I characterize or categorize general reactions.

Nikki: What are the things I think about after the episode ends?

Nikki: We haven't talked about Reggie MacDawson in a while, and we heard about Suzanne's financial status.

Salina: That's true.

Nikki: First time in a while.

Nikki: So it's still going on, even though.

Salina: It never makes sense.

Nikki: Nope.

Salina: It never, ever does.

Salina: That's okay.

Nikki: That's all right.

Salina: You don't need it to.

Salina: Mary Jo panicking once she realized she lost the pearls for me was so good.

Salina: It was too good.

Salina: It triggered that sensation I get every time I realized I've fudged something up.

Salina: Body just jumps through itself.

Salina: And then, if maybe Phil's worth saying, tagged into that, like, while they're sitting at the buffet, she talks about how wearing these pearls, these real pearls, gave her confidence, but they were, in fact, fake pearls.

Salina: So I had two thoughts.

Salina: One, is it possible the real lesson in this one is to look inward for the confidence to do the things?

Salina: I don't have an answer.

Salina: I'm just curious.

Salina: Does that feel like maybe what it's telling?

Salina: Like, that's more of, like, a talisman or something?

Salina: And then my other thing was, is there anything, Nikki, that you can do or wear that gives you confidence where you're feeling like you're having a.

Salina: No, nothing and nothing you can do that makes you feel worse or.

Nikki: Let me think how to answer this.

Nikki: If I have a good hair day, I feel more confident.

Nikki: So that is one thing.

Nikki: If I know that I have to do something that I need confidence for, I'll make sure I do my hair that day.

Nikki: So it looks good?

Nikki: Yeah.

Nikki: I mean, wearing leggings makes me uncomfortable, so if I had to go do something with confidence, I would never wear leggings to do it.

Salina: Okay.

Nikki: I don't know if that's an answer to your question.

Salina: So I think for me, it's like, I guess there's a part of me that never does feel confident.

Salina: That's true.

Salina: But if I want a shot at all making it through, like, I've got to be dressed, I've got to have makeup on.

Salina: I can't have anything that's, like, where I'm thinking about how dark the circles are underneath my eyes or how my hair looks the way it currently does.

Salina: Or whatever the case is.

Salina: Or like, oh, gosh, I've got two different socks on or something like that.

Salina: So I do think there's something to be said for, like, if you dress for the job you want, there's all pajamas, then also dressing for the feeling that you want.

Salina: So I do think there is something to that.

Salina: I don't know I've ever had on a piece of jewelry, and I'm like, right.

Nikki: I will tell you, I can't wear lipstick.

Nikki: I'm too self conscious the entire time I'm wearing lipstick to ever wear lipstick.

Nikki: It's either on my teeth or the color doesn't match, or I just can't wear lipstick.

Nikki: I don't understand how people get up in the morning and put on lipstick and just go out in the world, just, like, smile into the whole world.

Nikki: And then how do they not have toothpaste on their.

Nikki: I mean, not toothpaste.

Nikki: Well, maybe they lipstick on their teeth.

Salina: That's how they keep the lipstick off their teeth with the toothpaste.

Nikki: And if I ever get a spot on me, on my clothes could be the tiniest spot in the world that no one can see.

Nikki: I will spend the entire day shrinking myself so nobody could potentially see it.

Nikki: No matter how small the stain is.

Nikki: I have a lot more things that make me feel not confident.

Nikki: That made me feel confident.

Salina: I'm like, everything in my.

Salina: It's not even mine until there's a stain on it.

Nikki: Oh, God.

Salina: I'm like, oh, it's mine.

Nikki: If there's a stain on it, it will ruin my entire day, possibly my week, until I get the stain out.

Salina: Well, so you learned to let a thing go.

Salina: I understand.

Salina: Same here.

Salina: All right, well, I was just wondering.

Salina: I was just wondering about that.

Salina: If you had a real pearl situation.

Nikki: I don't.

Nikki: Sorry.

Nikki: That feels stray, though.

Nikki: Do you have any more strays?

Salina: Actually, I do have some strays, but I wanted to do something a little new first.

Salina: Okay.

Salina: And then work our way into the.

Nikki: Strays, if that's okay.

Salina: I'm going to suggest a limited time segment that we call Suzanne.

Salina: Watch until the end of the season, when we are not watching Suzanne anymore, I'm afraid to say.

Salina: I'm thinking we can monitor how they're using Suzanne in a given episode.

Salina: Does she appear for just a short while?

Salina: What is her proximity to the cast?

Salina: Is there meaning behind the lines that they give know all of these little things that are kind of at least tickling my brain as I'm watching at this point?

Salina: And with that in mind, I'm going to show you a picture that I took in this episode.

Salina: And if it's worth a thousand words, this one is it.

Salina: Literally no one is sitting next to Delta.

Salina: This is just a few months after the Barbara Walters interview, and I think we're really starting to see the seams come.

Salina: And I understand no one else can see, but she is flush on the left hand side.

Salina: I guess her right.

Salina: She's flush on one side of the couch.

Nikki: On her normal seat.

Salina: She is on her seat.

Salina: Mary Jo and Charlene are tucked into the.

Nikki: Squished into one another.

Salina: Yep, practically.

Salina: Mary Jo is in her lap.

Salina: Anthony and Julia are behind the couch.

Salina: And everyone looks really far away when.

Nikki: You show that picture.

Nikki: They do.

Nikki: So you had mentioned in the show notes that you are in the outline for the show that you wanted to do.

Nikki: Suzanne, watch.

Nikki: I genuinely didn't think you were talking about this episode.

Nikki: There's nothing about this episode that to me felt like, because we had Charlene episodes last season where we know in real life she was pregnant, Jean Smart was pregnant.

Nikki: And probably in and out during filming or whatever.

Nikki: So you would have these really, in my opinion, obvious cuts where you couldn't see anybody else in the shot, but, you know, they were filming her separately and then streaming it together.

Nikki: I was on the lookout for something like had.

Nikki: The other thing that was striking me is that she was kind of a major component of this episode.

Nikki: I was thinking she was, because the storyline is about her pearls and her becoming a tv star.

Salina: She's just not there for any of.

Nikki: It, which is so weird, because, again, I was thinking she was there the whole time.

Salina: That's because she's always in your heart, but she is not on the stage.

Nikki: It's felt this way with her for so long, in my opinion, that I was expecting.

Nikki: So I've seen these episodes up to a point.

Nikki: I have not finished this season yet.

Nikki: Some of the later episodes are going to be a surprise to me.

Nikki: I've watched this episode, though, but we've seen a lot of episodes where she is clearly not.

Nikki: She's coming in at the end, in the beginning, or she's in one little scene in the middle, and otherwise we don't talk about her.

Nikki: This episode didn't feel like that to me.

Nikki: So I was expecting that you were talking about something different to come in the next two episodes that I'm forgetting.

Salina: That's okay.

Salina: I'm telling you.

Salina: Also, I'm wondering if there's any other reading of these lines other than things that are going on outside of the show.

Salina: And this is tough, right?

Salina: Because, let's be honest, Suzanne Sugar Baker is a pretty vain character.

Salina: So if she says vain things, it's not exactly out of character or she says things.

Salina: Know, she kind of comes from the.

Salina: She doesn't kind of.

Salina: She comes from this pageant background, and there is a lot of this competition.

Salina: And so you see that.

Salina: But for me right now, it's hard to not read these a little differently.

Salina: I'm going to probably be reading some things into the situation, but I wanted to read these lines and see what you thought.

Salina: So, you know, I bet they asked me to do another report.

Salina: I figure I'll become a regular correspondent, then work up the anchor woman, then go national on a morning show.

Salina: Deborah Norville's my new role model.

Salina: You mean how Deborah worked real hard making her way to the top?

Salina: I mean how she kissed up to Jane Polly and then blew her b*** out into the sidewalk?

Salina: If Deborah could do that to Jane, I could do that to Deborah.

Salina: I'll lie, cheat, and scheme my way to becoming the most trusted woman in America.

Salina: And it's just tough.

Salina: Not really the first part, but that last part.

Salina: I'll lie, cheat, and scheme my way to becoming the most trusted woman in America.

Salina: And I wonder if that's what was kind of like even subconsciously working its way into Pam's brain after that Barbara Walters interview, because she put herself out there.

Salina: She said all of those things.

Salina: Obviously, the Thomasons do not think it's know, and they are seeing her as someone who's trying to get on the side of the american public in this really nasty dispute that really probably should have stayed out of the press.

Salina: So that was one of the things that sort of tipped for me when I was watching through this one.

Salina: I do have a number of stray observations.

Salina: Well, I have two.

Salina: What do you have?

Nikki: Oh, the whistling at the beginning of Julia's song was so bad.

Nikki: She sounded like a happy go lucky janitor instead of like a person trying to seduce Anthony.

Nikki: Oh, it sounded like something from a Disney movie.

Nikki: And it's just every single time, it alarmed me.

Nikki: We've talked a lot about Annie Potts and at times feeling like she's underused.

Nikki: I think this is a real sticking point for you, feeling like she didn't get a chance to shine as much.

Nikki: And this season, I feel like we've had several examples where she's gotten a line for her, where she's gotten to do something.

Nikki: She was pretty bright in this episode.

Nikki: Like, she was right there in the middle of it.

Nikki: And she was super charming.

Nikki: So I can't help but think about that when we get a line for then.

Nikki: But Mary Jo was PTA volunteer of the year.

Nikki: She gave that one speech, but otherwise she's been pretty inactive.

Nikki: So not sure what their PTA is like.

Nikki: And then we had a couple of cut lines.

Nikki: I'm trying to remember if any of these.

Nikki: I mean, I wrote them down.

Nikki: I'm just not sure that they're super necessary to mention.

Nikki: There was a little bit more Julia, Anthony, after Mary Jo and Charlene left for the buffet.

Nikki: And then they leave for the buffet, and the next scene is them sitting and chatting.

Nikki: I think there was some in between cut where Julia says, hi, anthony.

Nikki: He says, hi, julia.

Nikki: Did Charlene mention I needed you in my bedroom?

Nikki: Yeah, she did mention that.

Nikki: Can you handle the job?

Nikki: Of course.

Nikki: I'll be up to see how you're doing.

Nikki: And then she starts singing awe sweet mystery of life.

Nikki: So there was something that threaded him telling other people about it to them on the couch together.

Salina: Yeah.

Salina: I actually felt like this is one where, and I have this in my don't likes.

Salina: But since we're talking about it, for me there was at least three cuts, and that's one of them where I actually did fill it and notice it and where for me, without the lack of context, it made the jokes land less funny.

Salina: So what you mentioned, and then also Mary Jo is trying to pay for Claudia's college, which is why she switched those pearls, to teach Suzanne a lesson that doesn't make it funnier, but I do think it makes it make a little more sense than it just like coming out of then.

Salina: And it also kind of built on Suzanne bragging about people, about having money and people who have no money when she's sitting there just trying to pay her.

Salina: Think about how she's going to pay tuition or whatever.

Nikki: Oh, I must have missed that.

Nikki: So Mary Jo's a thief then?

Nikki: She was trying to get the money for the pearls?

Salina: No, she was just tired of Suzanne talking about all of the money that she has and her not knowing at the time that really Suzanne has no money either.

Salina: The nice little double twist there at the end, but just tired of hearing her talk about that and how people with no money suck while she's currently sitting there with no money.

Salina: And I think that motivated more of her idea to switch that.

Nikki: Okay, I see.

Salina: Yeah.

Salina: So we lost that motivation.

Salina: And then I would just say, too, that the joke about Deborah Norville, in addition to just like unless you're just a really big Deborah Norville fan.

Salina: That may have not landed as much, but you get some additional context with some comments from Mary Jo in the beginning that made that even funnier.

Nikki: Really.

Salina: You didn't necessarily need it, but it made it really land and sing a little at the end.

Nikki: I think it probably would have been more relevant today than it was.

Nikki: Probably.

Nikki: We probably need that context, I guess, to understand what happened between Deborah Norville and Jane Polly.

Salina: Yeah, I think that's right, because I was like, hey, I was definitely the one who didn't know.

Salina: I did have a stray observation about the pearls.

Salina: So she mentioned, Suzanne, that they were $4,500.

Salina: That would be $10,593 today.

Nikki: It's like a lot of money for pearls.

Nikki: Too much money to spend on pearls.

Salina: Goodness.

Nikki: They would have to come from somewhere fancy.

Salina: Yeah.

Nikki: Fiji pearls or Tahiti pearls or something.

Nikki: Somewhere really good.

Salina: Yeah, it's just crazy.

Salina: And then.

Salina: And you're out of strays, right?

Nikki: Yes.

Salina: Okay.

Salina: So this one just had me thinking about buffets.

Nikki: Oh.

Salina: And all you can eat places.

Salina: It was pretty much like a Ryan's golden corral situation for me growing up.

Salina: But this place Butners was my favorite, and I just needed to throw that out there.

Salina: Oh, it had a lazy Susan in the middle of the table and they turn it around.

Nikki: Well, hold on, I got a sidebar on buffet.

Salina: You don't say.

Nikki: I have one.

Nikki: I know you were, but that was actually part of my segment, so hold on.

Nikki: I have a sidebar.

Nikki: It's actually a Nicky snibbles.

Salina: Nikki's nibbles.

Salina: Come on, y'all, let's talk fiddles.

Salina: Nikki's nibbles.

Nikki: Come on, y'all, let's eat.

Nikki: So that was actually going to come to the end of the segment.

Nikki: So hold on.

Nikki: Let's go there first, though.

Nikki: Your favorite buffets growing.

Salina: Yeah.

Salina: Yeah.

Nikki: So tell us about.

Nikki: You said buckners, buttners, butners.

Nikki: Where was that?

Salina: I feel like they mean pants buttoners.

Salina: Okay.

Salina: Yeah.

Salina: So this is like south of McDonough.

Salina: So that means nothing for anyone, really.

Salina: That's south of Atlanta.

Salina: Probably like an hour south of Atlanta.

Salina: And it was just a Country style restaurant.

Salina: Did you find this one?

Salina: Is that what you're.

Salina: No, no, no.

Nikki: I was just going to ask you, like, were you a buffet family?

Salina: We were a Piccadilly family.

Salina: It kind of depended because I've come from a divorced family and they really like to just like the opposite of everything.

Salina: If one family's coke, the other one's Pepsi if one family, you know what I'm saying?

Salina: So my dad's side of the family, it was always golden corral or Ryan's.

Salina: My mom's side of the family, it was always then.

Salina: But there was a time when we went to this place called butners, and I didn't like that they randomly sat you with different families because it was probably like a tin top, but the whole middle of the table was a lazy Susan, and you could just spin it around and get different food off of it, whatever you wanted.

Salina: And then they just came and refilled every time one of the bowls emptied.

Salina: And they had the best rolls.

Salina: I think one time I ate like ten of them and I was probably about eight.

Salina: I don't know why nobody stopped me, but they let me.

Nikki: I did the same thing with cream corn at a family style restaurant one time.

Nikki: My sister and I probably ate like three bowls of it.

Nikki: I got very ill.

Nikki: So I've heard of Buckner's.

Nikki: I'm googling it real quick.

Nikki: So, in Jackson, Georgia.

Nikki: Okay, it's Buckner's, Jackson, Georgia.

Salina: Okay.

Nikki: Yeah.

Nikki: And they do.

Nikki: Yeah, you can see the lazy Susan.

Salina: That is a young child's misunderstanding of the name of the restaurant.

Salina: Well, there it is.

Nikki: I found it.

Nikki: It still exists.

Salina: Okay.

Salina: Yeah.

Salina: I thought I had it wrong years ago when I used to call it Buckners, but that's what Buckners would be.

Nikki: Really cute.

Salina: Yeah, they should have done that.

Nikki: Well, what I was going to do with this segment is talk about all you can eat restaurants and sort of the history of them in the US, sort of how they fit in our culture in the United States, and share a few things about where we are with all you can eat restaurants today in sort of like a post Covid world.

Nikki: So I'm calling the segment navigating the american buffet bounty.

Nikki: So I also grew up eating at more buffet versus all you can eat restaurants.

Nikki: And so the distinction I make between those two is all you can eat, in my mind, is more like family style, like you're describing.

Nikki: They put it on the table in the middle of you and just keep refilling it, versus buffet, which is where you get up and walk up there and pick up things.

Nikki: We ate Ryan's, like you said, golden corral.

Nikki: I don't remember being a thing for our family back then.

Nikki: As I got older, my parents love a golden corral, but we used to eat Ryan's probably once a month.

Nikki: I'm going to guess it was on like a payday situation or something.

Nikki: But we would go eat.

Nikki: Also, my parents also love a chinese buffet, which is a very american thing.

Salina: They ever do, Orient gardens?

Nikki: Yes, they used to.

Nikki: I don't think I've done it, but we had one over off.

Nikki: I think it was Lawrenceville highway in Lawrenceville that we used to go to again, probably like a payday situation, or if someone did good in school or something, we would.

Nikki: So I have a little bit of an affinity for a chinese buffet as well.

Nikki: But my parents love those.

Nikki: But I thought we could talk about where all you can eat restaurants sort of came from.

Nikki: And like I said, where we are in the US with them.

Salina: I'm going to be so hungry when this is over.

Nikki: Maybe, I don't know.

Nikki: Sometimes thinking, if I think back to that cream corn and how much of it I ate that day, lessons were learned.

Nikki: Lessons were learned.

Salina: Prices were paid.

Nikki: Prices were paid.

Nikki: So, as with most things food related, it's hard to pin down the exact origins of, like, all you can eat or buffet style restaurants.

Nikki: But there are theories.

Nikki: So a food and wine article I found noted that big food spreads were really common during medieval feasts.

Nikki: So it's an old school concept to eat as much as you can.

Nikki: But the Swedes were the first ones to formalize all you can eat style eating and give it a name.

Nikki: In the 16th century, it became a common swedish practice prior to a more substantial feast to welcome arriving gifts with a bronvan's board, meaning a table of spirits.

Nikki: So it consisted of finger foods like bread, butter, cheese, cured meats, and smoked fish.

Nikki: And the star of the Bronvins board was traditional spiced vodka distilled from potatoes or grains, known as bronvan.

Nikki: Bronman would later be joined on the table by beer, schnopps, or aquavit.

Nikki: Two centuries later, in the 18th century, they turned that pre dinner Bronman's board into a full meal, which they called smorgasbord.

Nikki: It was common to use it to feed hungry guests who traveled a long distance.

Nikki: Okay, so smorgasbord included a mix of cold and warm dishes.

Nikki: Swedish faves, like salted fish and eggs, were common, as were fruits and vegetables.

Nikki: That same food and wine article said, while the smorgish board, I always feel like I say that differently, is still quite popular today.

Nikki: There's one main difference from the americanized version of the all you can eat buffet.

Nikki: Again, it isn't a free for all.

Nikki: The serving table is meticulously set in a specific order, forcing guests to exercise some restraint and not grab all the food at once as gracefully put by Sweden's official tourism website.

Nikki: Quote, you can pick out a non swede, by the way, the person loads everything onto a single plate.

Nikki: So I guess in Sweden, you just sort of grab everything and throw it on your plate in a more american buffet.

Nikki: Everything is ordered and organized so that you walk down the buffet and organize your plate the same way.

Salina: That's interesting.

Nikki: I don't know.

Nikki: I've never been to Sweden.

Nikki: I can't speak to a swedish smorgasbord.

Salina: I would love to go give it a shot.

Nikki: When Sweden hosted the Olympics in 1912, they introduced their smorgasboard to the attendees, which gave all those delectable things international exposure.

Nikki: And then at the 1939 World's Fair, Americans got a shot at it.

Nikki: In New York, when the World's fair was there, the three crowns restaurant inside the swedish pavilion laid out a smorgasbord, which was probably the first time a lot of Americans were exposed to it.

Nikki: All you can eat buffets came stateside officially in 1946 when Herb Cobb McDonald introduced it in.

Nikki: Can you guess what city?

Salina: I can't.

Nikki: Las Vegas.

Salina: Oh, that makes a ton of sense.

Salina: I was caught up on the name that just didn't sound real.

Nikki: Herb Cobb McDonald.

Nikki: Yeah.

Salina: I'm like, no, it's not.

Nikki: What about the buckaroo buffet?

Nikki: Because that was the name of it.

Salina: That sounds right, doesn't it?

Salina: Underneath the cowboy or something.

Nikki: It was at the El Rancho Vegas.

Nikki: It was advertised in flyers for only 1-1-1?

Nikki: Just a dollar.

Nikki: And a patron could eat, quote, every possible variant of hot and cold entrees to appease the howling coyote.

Nikki: In your innards.

Nikki: In your innards.

Nikki: Oh, my gosh, I can't talk today.

Salina: Well, I think I have a howling.

Nikki: Coyote in my innards right now.

Salina: I was just going to go with it.

Nikki: I'm like, yeah, your innards, certainly.

Nikki: By the time Mary Jo and Charlene rifled through the endless salad bar at the PTA ceremony, buffets had proliferated.

Nikki: The US and certainly the south.

Nikki: Small roadside buffets are pretty common to pass on road trips across the south, but we also welcomed big chains through the.

Nikki: So I mentioned earlier, the ones I remember were Ryan's, but there was also soup plantation, western sizzling, and old country buffet.

Salina: I'm like, I don't know any of that.

Salina: Maybe the soup one soup plantation, but I've heard of it before.

Salina: What was the second one?

Nikki: We've talked about western sizzling here before.

Salina: That's different than sizzler, though, right?

Nikki: That's right.

Salina: Okay.

Nikki: And then old country buffet.

Salina: I don't remember old country buffet, but it sounds.

Nikki: It's been a couple weeks and a few traumas ago since I put this together, but I feel like a lot of those are actually under the same umbrella of companies that own it now.

Nikki: Okay, so I remember Ryan's and maybe western sizzling and old country buffet actually sit under the same umbrella of restaurant owners today.

Nikki: Interesting.

Nikki: I would be remiss if I didn't mention that nearly every fast food concept also played with the concept of buffets through the.

Nikki: So there was pizza hut and then all the way to McDonald's they all tried buffets.

Nikki: Wendy's, there was a taco Bell one.

Salina: Smoke your cigarette over the Wendy's taco bar.

Nikki: Yeah, that sounds not.

Nikki: So.

Salina: Then.

Nikki: So I'm going to link to an article in the show notes for that.

Nikki: It's kind of irrelevant to the segment, but it was just kind of funny to see.

Salina: I don't think so at all because it's like if you're talking about how these things were so trendy at the time that it makes sense while they were playing with those concepts.

Salina: Yeah, we were actually talking not long ago, like how we missed pizza Hut's salad.

Nikki: You know, I love a good salad bar.

Nikki: I do love a good salad bar.

Nikki: We stopped at a pizza hut one on the way back from Florida.

Nikki: We had a girls trip several years ago and we stopped at a Pizza hut buffet on the way back.

Nikki: They still exist.

Nikki: So bringing this segment full circle, unsurprisingly, buffets suffered tough times during COVID I'm going to link to an article where they talk about the influence of COVID on southern buffet restaurants in particular.

Nikki: As I was doing my research, I also noted Covid attributed to as the reason for a number of buffets going under.

Nikki: So a lot of small mom and pop type buffets pivoted to new ways of serving people during the pandemic just to keep some people employed and keep the business above water.

Nikki: I found examples of some switching to a curbside model, which to me sounds not super lucrative.

Nikki: They mixed it up with a server standing at the buffet versus customers serving themselves or pivoting to a more cafeteria style like the traditional meat and three concept that we talked about in episode five this season.

Nikki: Thinking about the long term ramifications for buffets, I really appreciated this quote from that article I read.

Nikki: They said in some ways southern roadside places are more likely to survive intact than urban restaurants because of a loyal customer base, not depending on tourists excessively and not having to pay astronomical rents.

Nikki: So that was Paul Friedman, a professor of history at Yale.

Nikki: He also said if people in southern states are reluctant to practice stringent quarantine, mask wearing and social distancing, and the epidemic does not become more intense, it may mean that customs don't change at all and the buffet model does okay.

Nikki: He said he's more worried about the future of chinese buffets, which were also shuttered during coronavirus, according to national news reports.

Nikki: Based on data from Wamply, a data subscription service, 59% of independent chinese restaurants across the US had completely stopped taking debit and credit card transactions, indicating they had ceased operations, he was quoted as saying.

Nikki: The small town, rural chinese buffet is likely to be unsustainable, partly because of the prejudice against Chinese as a result of the virus.

Nikki: So that was kind of an older article.

Nikki: We may actually be far enough removed from COVID now that we can see the actual influence of the pandemic on all you can eat style or all you can eat buffet style of dining, and I think it's not as bleak as everyone projected it was going to be.

Nikki: I found this weirdly charming New York Times article from early 2023 that talked to a number of people who started revisiting buffets post Covid odly.

Nikki: There were several quotes from Atlanteans in the article, which I thought were super fitting here.

Nikki: My favorite part was when the article talked about how for some Gen Xers and millennials, a buffet is nostalgic.

Nikki: I particularly liked this bit for Gen Xers and older millennials who grew up during the golden age of chinese buffets and national chains like Sizzler and Pizza Hut, the buffet is also a nostalgia play.

Nikki: Chu Chu Hu, 34, a professional pianist in Atlanta who immigrated from China as a child, builds her travel around food, but she recalls with great fondness and detail her favorite dishes at the old country buffet in St.

Nikki: Louis, where her parents would take her and her sister when the family had something to celebrate, like the day they got their green cards, it felt like we were being as american as we could be, she said.

Nikki: Most fittingly, that article ended with a quote from the owner of the Mississippi buffet, the movie star restaurant.

Nikki: The pandemic didn't kill the buffet, it just made it stronger, said Lori Ford, whose parents founded the restaurant.

Nikki: I think not having it for so long made people appreciate it more.

Nikki: People and their food, she said.

Nikki: They don't like to be told what they can and can't have.

Nikki: Amen to that.

Nikki: Speaking of things we like like food.

Nikki: Salina, what did you like in this episode?

Salina: Julia and Suzanne's exchange over having money and not having money, I thought was really funny.

Salina: Suzanne, would you please quit bragging about how much you're making?

Salina: It isn't very nice.

Salina: There is a recession going on.

Salina: Times are hard.

Salina: Nobody has much money.

Salina: I do.

Salina: Sorry.

Salina: Of course.

Salina: What I meant to say was times are hard.

Salina: Nobody has much money with the exception of alimony, sucking, mercedes driving, fur wearing rich women.

Salina: I thought that was really good.

Salina: Suzanne's demonstration of how to tell real from fake pearls, only to be bested by Charlene's fantastic point, which was, it's not like you're going to go to a party and someone's going to chew on your necklace since you're scraping it against your teeth to find out if they're real.

Salina: Also, that doesn't seem good for your.

Nikki: Enamel, if I might say.

Nikki: It's a good question for a dentist.

Salina: And then you sort of already talked about this one.

Salina: But I did think that Mary Jo and Charlene tearing through that salad bar when the server walked up was really good.

Nikki: It was funny.

Salina: And the physical comedy there was very spot on.

Salina: How about you?

Nikki: I had both those lines that I really liked.

Nikki: I also liked Mary Jo's description of the buffet.

Nikki: I never have been much for these all you can eat salad bars.

Nikki: If you went to a regular restaurant and they said, tonight your dinner is canned beets, chickpeas, and enough iceberg lettuce to fill your trunk, you might object, but put it under a sneeze guard and yum.

Nikki: I think that's true.

Nikki: It sounds good on a salad bar, not good on my plate.

Nikki: I also really liked the Suzanne has a job bit at the beginning with Charlene.

Nikki: Still, I think it would be good for Suzanne to have a job.

Nikki: Charlene?

Nikki: Suzanne has a job?

Nikki: Where?

Nikki: Here.

Salina: Oh, yeah.

Nikki: I thought that was really funny.

Nikki: I liked Anthony's very specific recollection of his dream.

Nikki: A long hallway, a radiant white light, a beanbag chair, and a Gary Coleman poster.

Nikki: Okay.

Salina: The show does also love Gary Coleman.

Nikki: It seems like it, yeah.

Nikki: And then here's a check for $4,500.

Nikki: I'd appreciate it if you didn't cash it for a few years.

Nikki: I liked that line, too, so that's what I had.

Salina: It's understandable.

Salina: How about things that you didn't like about the episode?

Nikki: I didn't have anything.

Salina: Okay, good.

Salina: So I'm like, here I come.

Salina: General pacing issues were there for me on this one.

Salina: So I liked everything once they were looking for the pearls, and I was okay, even with a little lead up because obviously, I don't think we have to see her realize that she loses the pearls.

Salina: But I thought that conversation between Charlene and Mary Jo went on too long before we were in the action of it.

Salina: Anthony's dreams subplot.

Salina: It's just so of that time.

Salina: And even though I thought aspects of it were funny, that's another one that just, for me, just.

Salina: It was like, too.

Salina: And I got feeling bad because now I feel like you really like this one.

Nikki: No, I told you.

Nikki: She whistled like a janitor.

Nikki: I just thought it was so freaking weird.

Nikki: But, no, I thought it was just a funny subplot.

Salina: And then I mentioned earlier that some of the cuts, I think, actually detracted from the episode.

Salina: But I think we find that a lot.

Salina: But for some reason, it just stood out more to me.

Salina: Like, there's some times where I'm like, but this time I was like, oh, wait a second.

Salina: This would have been better.

Salina: I thought that the plot was confusing.

Salina: So she's a lifestyle reporter.

Salina: This gig is supposed to be a tryout based on what they say at the beginning of the episode.

Salina: But when Suzanne comes in, she brags about how much money they're paying her.

Salina: Like, who gets paid for what's tantamount to an audition?

Nikki: She was also lying about.

Salina: Yes, yes.

Salina: That's all there in the sauce.

Salina: That said, though, with astute as Mary Jo is, how did no one around pick up on the how are you getting paid for an like?

Salina: I don't know.

Salina: I was just surprised that people would think that she was just swimming in cash after that.

Salina: Or maybe people just don't listen to Suzanne anymore.

Salina: I don't know.

Salina: Or maybe the show forgot that it was only a tryout.

Salina: It doesn't really matter.

Salina: It just feels a little sloppy to me.

Nikki: Well, you make a good point.

Nikki: The other thing that kind of stuck with me a couple of times was that Julia didn't say anything as Suzanne was lying about the pearls.

Nikki: Like, mary Jo couldn't dare keep a secret to herself that Anthony was having this horribly embarrassing dream of Julia, but Julia was just keeping it secret that Suzanne was straight up lying.

Salina: Yeah.

Salina: So those just were the things that kind of stood out for Pam.

Salina: Sloppy.

Salina: Salina said, yeah, if only you could write a sitcom the way I do.

Salina: I hear myself.

Salina: What about a rating for this one?

Nikki: So my rating scale is all you can get your hands on buffet dinners.

Salina: I gave it a five out of five.

Salina: That's great.

Nikki: Again, a few weeks ago and trauma ago, I thought this one was pretty good.

Nikki: I thought it was funny.

Nikki: I didn't mind watching it a couple of times.

Nikki: I liked the I love Lucy type physical humor and I liked the b plot with Anthony and Julia.

Nikki: I thought it was kind of funny.

Salina: I liked.

Salina: I.

Salina: It's not like I was okay because what's the one that we watched this season?

Salina: The fever dream episodes.

Salina: Those are ones I hate where I'm just like.

Salina: I mean, I just flat out do not like them.

Salina: I think that this is an okay episode for sure.

Salina: And I think there's always going to be funny parts because the truth is that the writers for this show are really good and they're funny and they know their characters.

Salina: For me, I enjoyed that part.

Salina: I enjoyed the physical comedy from Gene smart and Annie Potts.

Salina: I almost wanted more of that.

Salina: But I guess you can only put your elbow up.

Salina: Know, blue cheese for.

Salina: So then the mystery wears.

Salina: I just.

Salina: For right now, I can't unsee the I, which I do think was actually what was lending itself to these plot holes and the pacing issues with this one at the last minute.

Salina: I think they were having to rewrite several episodes and I think some things fell through the cracks.

Salina: And that's just.

Salina: But because we've recently talked about that off screen drama, it is just like so front and center to me that I can't unsee it.

Salina: What about, oh, did I even give the rating?

Nikki: No, I don't think so.

Salina: Three out of five awkward Suzanne encounters.

Nikki: I keep thinking after all the drama that happened, it's astounding to me she's in as much of the episodes as she is.

Nikki: And so I think that's why I'm like, I'm so surprised I didn't just rip her out or leave her to the tiniest little something.

Salina: Well, she wanted out.

Nikki: Yeah.

Salina: So I wonder if it was almost like a jab to keep her into some degree.

Salina: I guess they're probably doing everything under duress.

Salina: So I'm guessing that you and I are probably going to be left scratching our heads a lot.

Salina: Wouldn't it have made more sense to.

Salina: I guess when you're not directly in.

Nikki: The trauma, lBt can tell us when she comes on.

Salina: I mean, I'm ready.

Salina: So 90s things.

Nikki: There was a car phone reference.

Nikki: They said it's Julia on the car phone.

Nikki: At the beginning when Charlene was telling everybody, Suzanne got a spot on tv and then on teeny tiny tv they were watching at the end.

Nikki: Of the episode.

Nikki: This little, teeny tiny tv has come up at least three times.

Nikki: It was the hurricane episode.

Nikki: It came up once before.

Nikki: And then one time Charlene was sitting at her desk watching something that I don't remember, but it's just so eighty s, ninety s.

Nikki: It's just a teeny.

Salina: Tiny little tv that it is.

Salina: Julia mentions the recession and at times are hard.

Salina: And that was, this is just like really a literal thing pulled from what was going on in the real world.

Nikki: Then southern things, Stone Mountain reference at the end.

Nikki: That's where Suzanne was reporting from.

Salina: Yeah, I did want to see her do a little bit more reporting.

Salina: It would have been the other thing, too.

Salina: It's like, I think they could have played with that.

Nikki: It sounded like a segment I would have watched.

Nikki: I mean, Julia looked distressed by it.

Salina: But I thought it sounded cute.

Salina: Well, they don't know how much news is unraveled in 1990 that says that's true.

Salina: Okay, what about references we need to talk about?

Nikki: Aw, sweet mystery of life, that song that kept coming up in the recurring dream.

Nikki: I finally just had to look the stupid thing up because I was so thrown off by that whistling thing.

Nikki: It is used as a recurring gag in young Frankenstein from 1974, which maybe is why it's somewhat familiar to me.

Nikki: It's based on an early 19 hundreds operetta set in New Orleans.

Nikki: It's about a captain who sets out to unmask a french pirate.

Salina: You really can write about anything.

Salina: You really can.

Nikki: And then the Jane Poly Deborah Norville situation with the cut lines and everything, they sort of tell you exactly what happened here.

Nikki: I think we've talked about Deborah Norville before.

Salina: I was actually going to ask you.

Salina: I thought maybe you covered her.

Nikki: I'm sure I did.

Salina: Episode.

Nikki: I'm sure she has come up because she did go to the University of.

Salina: Game that you like.

Salina: We did the hat, the slip of paper.

Salina: And maybe she was in that.

Salina: The.

Salina: Because I think at the time I was like, who's Deborah Norville?

Nikki: Yeah, right.

Nikki: Anyway, the whole point of that is apparently she was embroiled in a media firestorm created by kind of created by the top brass at the Today show, and she lost out pretty badly.

Nikki: They named her co anchor alongside Jane, Polly and the other guy, whose name I'm forgetting right now.

Nikki: But Jane left pretty immediately afterwards.

Nikki: And there were rumors that she left because she and Deborah Norville did not get along.

Nikki: Rumors which, like recently again, doubled down on and said were not true.

Nikki: But they were told at the time not to comment on anything.

Nikki: And a lot of media outlets ran with the no comment and a bunch of unsubstantiated claims and ran stories that basically made Deborah Norville look not good.

Nikki: And it was really unfair.

Nikki: They pitted two women against each other.

Nikki: So what was funny in reading that, refreshing my memory on that is Julia's issue with the media and how Suzanne's not a reporter, but she's getting to present the news.

Nikki: And Deborah Norville says in a few interviews that I found where she's basically like, she was really let down by her colleagues in journalism because they didn't practice proper journalism in reporting the story.

Nikki: She said the number of people using unnamed sources was astounding to her.

Nikki: So I don't know if Pam Norris meant to sort of mirror those two points with this kind of running conversation about Deborah Norville and Jane Polly or if it just happened that way.

Nikki: But it's very similar the way Julia was seeing the situation with what actually happened as far as Deborah Norville was concerned.

Nikki: But it was a mess.

Salina: I think as long as you're again pitting two women against each other, we all win.

Nikki: Yeah, we all win in the end.

Salina: Absolutely.

Nikki: But that was the last one I had.

Salina: Okay.

Nikki: Yeah.

Salina: Deborah Norville was the only one for me.

Salina: And I just was looking at the different ways that she had ties to Georgia, which really should have made her a southern reference.

Salina: So I don't know what I'm doing.

Salina: I know.

Nikki: Well, I found it this morning because actually I meant to look it up two weeks ago.

Nikki: So I looked at it this morning and I was like, her name is so familiar.

Nikki: It sounds like drama.

Nikki: And actually I found an article that was like all the times the major news stations had, like, major drama with the co anchors.

Nikki: That could have been a sidebar or an extra sugar all in and of itself because there was a lot of drama.

Salina: Yeah.

Salina: Anytime people are in a room, yeah.

Nikki: Egos and paychecks.

Nikki: And it gets complicated.

Salina: It does.

Nikki: So are we ready for the next episode?

Nikki: Season five episode 14 high noon in a laundry room.

Nikki: We'd love everyone to follow along with us and engage Instagram and Facebook at sweet teantv TikTok at sweettvpod.

Nikki: We're on YouTube, sweettv 7371.

Nikki: You can email us at

Nikki: And our website is

Nikki: On the website, you can find several ways to support the show on our support us page.

Nikki: You could also just tell your family and friends about us, rate and or review the podcast wherever you listen, and then come back Thursday where we're going to have an extra sugar about famous or interesting cases of people trying to pass off fake treasures as real.

Salina: It just rolls right off the tongue, doesn't it?

Salina: If we have the energy for it, maybe there'll be a game.

Salina: Or maybe we'll link you to the game.

Salina: You can play it.

Nikki: Doesn't that sound tantalizing?

Salina: It sure does.

Salina: Did we mention we've been through a lot?

Salina: Thanks for stopping by.

Salina: But seriously, Nikki, do I have any idea what that know?

Salina: I don't know what happened anymore.

Salina: Well, I think it means we'll see you on Thursday.

Salina: Bye.


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