Season Two, 1987-1988
The series' second season carries on much the same as the first, though there is definitely more comfort and consistency in the actors' portrayal of their characters, which may be attributed to Linda Bloodworth-Thomason writing every episode. This season probably best represents Linda's vision for the series with it's brilliant marriage of humor and heart, and she does an amazing job of incorporating each actor's strengths into their character.
Anthony is given a polish early in the season as Linda Bloodworth-Thomason gives him more depth and redeems him from some of the prison innuendo from the first season. We learn early on that he was unjustly imprisoned and find out several things about his home-life as a child growing up with his grandmother. He is implanted in junior college this season, and the continuing catty 'black ex-convict' remarks from Suzanne build up to an odd sort of friendship after they get trapped in a motel room together overnight. Also, a former
prison mate, the frightening T. Tommy Reed, shows up to hook Anthony into a business deal, just as he has gotten his life on track.
Suzanne's outrageously out-of-touch comments and anecdotes really make an impact on the audience, making her character the antagonist for the rest of the group. Her much-talked-about first husband, Dash Goff the writer, finally makes an appearance when he starts to go through a depression, and again later in the season-closer. By mid-season Suzanne is bankrupted when her accountant absconds with her
entire life savings, causing her to almost marry an 80-year old man to avoid having to learn to economize. At one point she is even forced to stay with Charlene briefly and try selling lingerie when her house is impounded by the IRS. Plus we find out just how superficial her social set is when she no longer has money. One really memorable Suzanne moment is when her maid's third-world family of meatpackers brings her a pig for Christmas, which she ultimately makes her pet -- forever imbedding the image of Suzanne and her pig, Noel, in the minds of the fans.
The drama of the Julia character is toned down this season, although she continues to respond to her sister's silliness with sarcasm and still presents us with a few well-timed tirades. One memorable episode shows the deep bond between Julia and Reese when he is struck down by a heart-attack. Not only do we get to see more of their incredible chemistry together, but we get to learn more about the death of Julia's rarely mentioned late husband, Hayden McIlroy.
Mary Jo must face her fear of losing her children when her ex-husband's new fiance starts bonding with them. Also, as she and J. D. become closer, her ex starts to show interest in her again, and she is forced to explore her own prejudices when a young black boy
asks her daughter to a school dance and his father disapproves.
Charlene continues consulting her psychic in hopes of finding Mr. Right -- at one point even thinking that she is going to have to marry a derelict who matches her psychic's description. Then, after telling her friends that she wants a soldier for her birthday, Charlene is blown away when a Colonel Bill Stillfield enters Sugarbaker's -- and her life.
Alice Ghostley, who appeared once last season as a friend of Julia and Suzanne's mother, returns this season as feisty widow Bernice Clifton
for three episodes, starting a trend that makes her character as memorable as any of the regular cast.
Other fun plots this season include the ladies having to fend off the amorous attentions of an eccentric client, Sugarbaker's being asked to redecorate a cruise ship for singles where Mary Jo and Suzanne compete for the best looking date, and an episode where Mary Jo and her cohorts are forced to escort a nose-bleeding nerd to his high school reunion. Plus, Julia and Suzanne's half brother, Clayton, comes home from the mental hospital this year, announcing his plans to become a stand-up comic, and Suzanne desperately attempts to join an elite country club, even if it means she has to deny knowing her pig.
The show continues its trend of debating issues by tackling such hot topics as AIDS and homosexuality, condoms for teenagers, interracial dating, and women in the ministry -- all with just the right blend of humor and human emotion.
Other highlights this season include Charlene's WWII dream sequence, Dixie Carter's emotional rendition of How Great Thou Art, and the famous season finale pitting the ladies against their beaus in the classic never-ending war of men versus women.
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