Julia Sugarbaker is the unapologetically feminist matriarch of an Atlanta-based interior design firm called Sugarbaker Designs, which operates out of her living room. Whether it’s about her sister, an ex-con, or an old friend, she’s got plenty to say.
She’s also a fervent supporter of women’s rights and believes that the beauty industry exploits them, an issue that causes her great irritation. She also finds her sister, Suzanne, to be shallow and hopelessly frivolous.
Some of her best verbal takedowns are directed at Suzanne’s ridiculous life and her naiveté about love and marriage. The two rarely see eye-to-eye on anything and occasionally snipe at each other, but they are truly devoted to each other.
Her naiveté leads to a string of bad relationships and a disastrous love life. However, when she meets a delivery man named Anthony Bouvier, he eventually becomes a full partner at Sugarbaker’s and proves to be a wonderful boyfriend.
Besides Julia, the show’s cast includes Jean Smart as Charlene Frazier-Stillfield (seasons 1-5; guest star: season 6), Julia’s late husband’s former secretary and office manager at Sugarbaker’s. Originally from a big family in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, Charlene’s naivete can be a little annoying, but her trusting nature ultimately pays off.
Other characters include her prissy cousin Allison, a new hire at Sugarbaker’s who has an Obnoxious Personality Disorder; Clayton, the half-brother of the Sugarbakers; and Mary Jo Shively, a single divorcee who works as one of the designers at Sugarbaker’s.