“THE ROWDY GIRLS,” Designing Women, Season 4, Episode 6 (1989)
The show “Designing Women” was known as a progressive voice on many issues, so the fact that it explored issues of domestic violence shouldn’t shock anyone. In Episode 6 of Season 4, Charlene’s long-time friend Mavis teaches the girls a dance routine and introduces everyone to her husband, who seems like the perfect man. Charlene overhears him attacking and beating her, and goes on to find her friend bruised and afraid. She implores her friend to receive help and asks her to take her and her girls and meet her at a talent competition so they can find her some help. The overall tone of the show was to remind Mavis that they grew up as “the rowdy girls” and that their independent spirit should not allow her to be pushed around and mistreated by her husband.
Charlene: Mavis, I’ve been so upset since the other night. I just can’t stop thinking about you.
Mavis: Yeah, I’ve been thinking about our whole family — how much I miss Mama and Daddy.
Charlene: They wouldn’t want you to live this way.
Mavis: Y’know it’s funny, but I haven’t really felt alive in a long time. And I’ve forgotten what I used to be like. Every once in a while there’s this little voice inside that says, “Hey. It’s me. It’s Mavis. I’m still in here.” But basically I’ve been dead. And then two things happened — this baby and seeing you again.
Charlene: Then all you have to do it get Ginny, Julie and Kate and come with me now. After the show we’ll go back to my house. You can all stay with Bill and me until we can find you an apartment.
Mavis: I can’t afford that.
Charlene: Mavis, you can’t afford not to. There are places you can go for help, but first we have to get you out of here.
Mavis: I get an allowance! I don’t have any money to move into an apartment.
Charlene: You do now (handing Mavis an envelope). This is from Bill and me, and the other check is from the rest of us for helping us rehearse.
Mavis: Oh, Charlene. This is too much. I mean, how could they do this? They don’t even know me.
Charlene: That’s just the way they are. That’s why they’re my friends. The fifty dollars is from Anthony.
Mavis: (starting to cry) I don’t know what to say.
Charlene: Just say you’ll do it! Now, Mavis, I have to go. If you won’t come with me right now, I’ll be at the Arts Center until 11:00. Just get your girls and come. Just take this first step. I will be by your side the whole way.
Mavis: I’m so ashamed. I don’t know how I ever let it get to this point.
Charlene: It’s ok. Just remember, you don’t have to take this, cuz we’re the rowdy girls, remember?
Mavis: Yes, I remember.