Anthony's friend Kendall loans him a load of radio equipment to conduct interviews and get extra credit for his communications class. The women all chime in on what a thoughtful person Kendall is when the handsome man arrives in the middle of the conversation to bring a forgotten cord for the equipment and stuns all of them with a request for their expertise -- he wants them to design his funeral! Kendall explains that he has been tested positive for AIDS and because his parents were having such a hard time with the revelation of his impending death, that he wants to have all the details taken care of while he is able. Because his family is from New Orleans, Kendall would like the room to be redone like the French Quarter. The women agree to tackle the job, although Mary Jo certainly doesn't feel like attending the PTA meeting that evening.
At the meeting, Mary Jo finds herself in the middle of a controversial debate concerning sexually active students. Attempting to refute the argument that the way to prevent teen pregnancy is to deny any assistance, Mary Jo feebly attempts to articulate her feelings. Encouraged by her effort to present another side of the problem, several members of the audience are emboldened to indicate that they have mixed feelings about the problem and solution. The matter is table for another week at the end of which another meeting is scheduled with Mary Jo appointed spokesperson.
Lamenting about her lack of public-speaking ability, Mary Jo pleads for help, sure that she is going to make a fool of herself. Asking Julia for pointers doesn't yield too much practical how-to advice, only that if something is believed in strongly, that's motivation enough to do a good job. After a strong confrontation with one of their clients, the women band together in their attitude of learning about the AIDS disease and trying to prevent it instead of condemning the lifestyles of the majority of sufferers. They all attend the PTA meeting, along with Kendall and Anthony and listen proudly as Mary Jo makes an impassioned appeal for understanding.
This episode's closing credits run over the funeral sequence, where a Dixieland band plays Just a Closer Walk With Thee, New Orleans style.
This episode was inspired by a personal tragedy in Linda Bloodworth-Thomason's life. Her own mother had recently died of AIDS after receiving HIV through a blood transfusion, and this episode was intended to help dispel some of the misinformation on how the disease is spread.
BERNICE: I don't think this safe sex is what it's cracked up to be. My husband and I weren't that happy and we always had safe sex. I mean we had it in bed.........and I was usually asleep. I don't think you can get any safer than that.
Forced to speak in front of the PTA, Mary Jo ask Julia to show her how to get fired up. As a result, everyone tries to think of something that makes them mad in order to help get Mary Jo going.
SUZANNE: Oh, oh!! I've got one..........this just makes me furious!! Y'know.......when men......use Women's Liberation as an excuse not to kill bugs for you........oh, I just hate that!!! I don't care what anybody says, I think the man should have to kill the bug!!
JULIA: I don't think I can add anything to that..........
An old "friend"/client of Julia's overhears their plans to decorate an AIDS funeral room.
IMOGENE SALINGER: Now I don't like to hurt anyone's feelings, but if these boys hadn't been doing what they were doing, they wouldn't be getting what's coming to them now.
MARY JO: Imogene, gays aren't the only ones getting it.
IMOGENE: No, but they're the ones who started it.
KENDALL DOBBS: Actually nobody knows how it got started. Gays are just one of the first groups it showed up in.
IMOGENE: Yes, and for a good reason.......you reap what you sow. You boys brought this on yourselves. As far as I'm concerned this disease has one thing going for it.......it's killing all the right people!
JULIA: Imogene, I'm terribly sorry. I'm gonna have to ask you to move your car.
JULIA: (pulling her towards the door) Because you're leaving. 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.
IMOGENE: Well, for your information, I am exempt. I haven't lived like these people, and I don't care what you say, Julia Sugarbaker, I believe this is God's punishment for what they've done.
SUZANNE: Oh yeah? Then how come lesbians get it less?
IMOGENE: That is not for me to say.......I just know that these people are getting what they deserve!
JULIA: Imogene, get serious! Who do you think you're talking to? I've known you for 27 years, and all I can say is.......if God was giving out sexually transmitted diseases to people as a punishment for sinning, that you would be at the free clinic all the time! ........and so would the rest of us!!
BERNICE: I think she makes a good point.
IMOGENE: Oh, who cares what you think?! (she points at her head) You're not even all there!
BERNICE: (shocked) Well, as long as we're on the subject, (pointing at her chest) neither are you!
IMOGENE: (totally furious) Well, you needn't look forward to any more of my business in this lifetime!
JULIA: Wonderful! I'll close up your account! And another thing, my son has an A in chemistry! In fact, he's making all A's! In everything -- including P.E!!
Mary Jo is forced to defend condoms for teenager at a PTA meeting shortly after discovering a friend is dying of AIDS.
CAROLYN: Let's quit kidding around, shall we? What you're actually saying, Mrs. Shively, is that if your 15-year-old daughter is determined to have sex, that you won't mind her going to a school dance with a boy who has a condom in his wallet paid for by your tax dollars. Isn't that right?
MARY JO: What I am saying is I have a dear, sweet, funny friend -- 24 years old, not very much older than the kids we're talking about here -- and he came to me this week and asked me to help plan his funeral because he's dying.....from AIDS -- something that he got before he even knew what it was or how to prevent it. I've been thinking 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 prevent AIDS. And I think it really shouldn't matter what your personal views are on birth control, because we're not just talking about preventing births anymore. We're talking about preventing deaths. Twenty-five thousand Americans have died, and we're still debating. Well, for me, the debate is over. More important than what any civic leaders, PTA, or Board of Education thinks about teenagers having sex, or any immoral act that my daughter or your son might engage in..... the bottom line is I don't think they should have to die for it.
Designing Women Online, Designing Women Tribute, Women of the House Magazine
and Belled Online ©1998-Present. All Rights Reserved.