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Tough Women of Sitcoms

The tough ladies of sitcoms – you know who they are. Those women who won’t back down from any challenge. They are strong-willed, confident, and probably cause 98 percent of their “problems” all on their own.

They make us laugh, and maybe even inspire a little something inside of us. So in their honor, here are the three toughest ladies of sitcoms. If you have any additions or comments, don’t forget to drop by the forum and post your thoughts!


Julia Sugarbaker (Dixie Carter) “Designing Women” 1986-1993

The daughter of Derek and Perky Sugarbaker, this southern belle was never afraid to speak her mind. This tendency to spout off her thoughts (uncontrollably) landed her the nickname “The Terminator.”

Her tirades were aimed at everyone from news reporters to community tour guides – and everyone in between. Her rants cost her a seat as city commissioner, numerous design jobs, admittance into prestigious country clubs, and at times old friends.

Never willing to just “let it go,” this left-leaning businesswoman always got her point across, and sometimes with dignity and grace. One of her more successful spouts was in defense of her self-centered, materialistic, beauty-queen sister Suzanne. After overhearing Miss Georgia World ridiculing Suzanne behind her back, Julia approached the beauty queen and put her in her place.

Julia: I'm Julia Sugarbaker, Suzanne Sugarbaker's sister. I couldn't help over hearing part of your conversation.

Miss GA World: Well, I'm sorry. I didn't know anyone was here.

Julia: Yes, and I gather from your comments there are a couple of other things you don't know, Marjorie. For example, you probably didn't know that Suzanne was the only contestant in Georgia pageant history to sweep every category except congeniality, and that is not something the women in my family aspire to anyway. Or that when she walked down the runway in her swimsuit, five contestants quit on the spot.

"Or that when she emerged from the isolation booth to answer the question, "What would you do to prevent war?" she spoke so eloquently of patriotism, battlefields and diamond tiaras, grown men wept. And you probably didn't know, Marjorie, that Suzanne was not just any Miss Georgia, she was the Miss Georgia.

"She didn't twirl just a baton, that baton was on fire. And when she threw that baton into the air, it flew higher, further, faster than any baton has ever flown before, hitting a transformer and showering the darkened arena with sparks! And when it finally did come down, Marjorie, my sister caught that baton, and 12,000 people jumped to their feet for sixteen and one-half minutes of uninterrupted thunderous ovation, as flames illuminated her tear-stained face! And that, Marjorie - just so you will know - and your children will someday know - is the night the lights went out in Georgia!"

Not a bad lady to have on your side.


Murphy Brown (Candace Bergen) “Murphy Brown” 1988-1998

Who wouldn’t want to get their news from Murphy Brown? Sure she had her faults (she was a recovering alcoholic, felt she was always right, and couldn’t keep a secretary to save her life), but no one investigated the way she did. She was willing to do whatever she needed to land the story.

Murphy had a life away from the office too. In the final season she battled breast cancer, a year-long arc where she helped educate herself and others about the issue. One of the most controversial and talked about facets of Murphy’s life happened in season three. Murphy gave birth to a baby and decided to raise the tot alone.

This led to real-life controversy, as Vice President Dan Quayle attacked the character for ignoring the importance of fathers. This real-life debate was brought into the show for the next season, showcasing the diversity of the American family.

Murphy Brown was strong, confident, and could run with the big boys. Not a bad role model to have. Don’t just take my word for it, Bergen won five Emmy’s and two Golden Globes portraying the head-strong Murphy.


Rosanne Conner (Roseanne Barr) “Roseanne” 1988-1997

There is nothing ordinary about this Lanford, Illinois wife and mother of three. Roseanne is a loud, sarcastic, dominant woman – with a great sense of humor. No subject was ever off limits, and no one was ever immune from her meddling, but you could never doubt that Roseanne loved her family.

Roseanne, too, worked outside of the home, but unlike the other two ladies on this list, she was a blue collar factory worker and then a waitress. Nothing was glamorous about her life, but that’s what made her a great character. The majority of Americans could relate to her.

Never afraid to speak her mind, Roseanne was also always there when a friend or family member needed her. She had a no-nonsense kind of style that was refreshing – and sometimes a little crude.

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