Monday, April 12, 2010

Dixie Carter, the Liberal Christian Who Wasn't

In real life, Designing Women's Dixie Carter was a conservative Republican -- but for 7 years, she played one of the most outspoken liberal Christians in TV history.

Julia Sugarbaker, who managed the show's interior design business, was a devout Southern churchgoer who argued for separation of church and state, equal treatment of gay people (a cause which Carter also supported) and the ordination of women. Jezebel has some great clips of Julia speechifying on those first two topics -- but the episode that made the biggest impression on me is "How Great Thou Art" (1988), which made a passionate case for the ordination of women. I couldn't find the whole episode online, but this impressive fan site contains an episode description, historical context and guide to Biblical references. And there's one clip on YouTube: Dixie Carter singing the title hymn, below.

RIP Dixie; thank you for giving us Julia Sugarbaker. And thanks also to Linda Bloodworth-Thompson, the writer who created the character and wrote the episodes mentioned above.

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