Babes (TV series)

Babes is an American sitcom series that aired Thursdays at 8:30 for one season on Fox from September 13, 1990, to May 19, 1991. It was created by Gail Parent and Tracey Jackson and executive produced by Dolly Parton and Sandy Gallin's Sandollar Productions for 20th Century Fox Television.

Created byTracey Jackson
Gail Parent
Opening theme"Babes"
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes22 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)Sandy Gallin
Dolly Parton
Gail Parent
Tracey Jackson
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running time30 minutes
Production company(s)Sandollar Productions
20th Century Fox Television
Original networkFox
Audio formatStereo
Original releaseSeptember 13, 1990 (1990-09-13) 
May 19, 1991 (1991-05-19)


The series follows a trio of obese sisters who had other things on their mind besides their weight: like work, relationships, popularity, and starting a family. The ladies also shared a small one-bedroom apartment in New York City, which added to the comic friction.

The Gilbert sisters include Darlene (Susan Peretz), the eldest, who was a dog groomer and recently divorced (her husband had an affair with their weight-loss counselor); Charlene (Wendie Jo Sperber), the middle sister, who was a makeup artist for a commercial photographer and was the most active one out of the three; and Marlene (Lesley Boone), the youngest sister, a former toll collector (and later an actress in a pantyhose commercial and a soap opera), who was seen as a dreamer with a naive, yet trusting, personality. Also in the cast was Charlene's boyfriend, Ronnie Underwood (Rick Overton), a restaurant owner. He disappeared at mid-season, as a result putting all three sisters on the dating market. At that time, the girls' landlady, Florence Newman (Nedra Volz), became a regular.

All three also had physical elements in their resume and it was evidenced in most of the episodes whenever something would tick off the sisters. Among the notable examples: Charlene getting blown up in a helium dress, Darlene breaking a hockey stick while attending a New York Rangers game that got her on probation and head-butting Ronnie over who was going to spend the night at the apartment, Marlene waking the sisters up with potato chips after they didn't hear her come in, and the sisters ganging up on a mime after he mocked them.


Controversy and cancellation

The show was initially criticized by several groups for making fun of overweight people due to some of the jokes that were used in the show's early episodes, but the controversy faded as later episodes began to put a more positive spin on the characters when it came to weight issues (this was pointed out in one episode in which they vowed the word "fat" would not come up in the conversation while they had an argument). The girls had differing views of their body image, with Charlene being most concerned about health issues and frequented a gym, then was ridiculed by an attractive woman. An enraged Charlene later returns to tell off the heckler.

Although it had the Top 30 hit The Simpsons as its lead-in, it could not hold on to a large enough percentage from that show, and also at least partially because of the controversy, it did not earn a second season and was cancelled at the end of the 19901991 season.


No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateProd.
1"Pilot"Michael LessacTracey Jackson,
Gail Parent
September 13, 1990 (1990-09-13)7E79
Charlene's romantic night with Ronnie — and her life of living by herself — is ruined when Darlene moves in after her husband Wilbur has an affair and Marlene loses her job as a New Jersey Turnpike toll collector.
Note: This episode had a different opening; it was replaced after it was re-aired.
2"Bend Me, Shape Me"Michael LessacRick Copp,
David A. Goodman
September 20, 1990 (1990-09-20)7E01
Charlene tries to get Darlene and Marlene to become weight conscious after she shows a workout video, but the two don't want to weigh in on the reaction when they are enticed by Charlene to join a health club, which comes true for Charlene after she receives the prejudicial taunting after they join. Erica Yohn guest-stars.
Note: beginning with this episode, a new opening is used, replacing the one used in the pilot.
3"Everything But Love"Michael LessacTBASeptember 27, 1990 (1990-09-27)7E02
In an effort to clean up Darlene's love life and to get her mind off Wilbur (Brandon Maggart), Charlene takes her to an unlikely place to meet guys—the neighborhood laundromat. The experience also gives Darlene a chance to wash herself clean from her 14 years of marriage after she realizes that Wilbur doesn't really know anything about Darlene.
4"The One Where Charlene Meets Ronnie's Mother"Michael LessacTBAOctober 11, 1990 (1990-10-11)7E04
Things do not go as planned when Charlene meets Ronnie's mother (Dena Dietrich).
5"Temper, Temper"Michael LessacTBAOctober 18, 1990 (1990-10-18)7E03
Darlene's temper becomes an issue after Wilbur (Brandon Maggart) demands spousal support.
6"No Regrets"Michael LessacTBAOctober 25, 1990 (1990-10-25)7E05
The sisters have a life-changing experience after surviving a near-fatal accident that almost crushed them to death. Jeff Corey and Gretchen Wyler guest-star.
7"Dream Vacation"Michael LessacTBANovember 1, 1990 (1990-11-01)7E07
Actually, the girls are in for a nightmare when they visit "Club Cabo" in this Fantasy Island-inspired episode. Cesar Romero guest stars as the "Mr. Roarke"-like resort owner.
8"Marlene's Problem"Michael LessacTBANovember 8, 1990 (1990-11-08)7E06
After Charlene's interference that results in losing her job as the "Hefty Hose Girl", Marlene lands a job on a TV soap opera. Meanwhile, Darlene babysits a puppy that really dogs her out. Matt McCoy guest-stars.
9"The Thanksgiving Show"Michael LessacTBANovember 22, 1990 (1990-11-22)7E08
After vowing they would not eat anything on Thanksgiving Day, the Gilberts meets a homeless man (played by Baby D) and promises him that they would serve him a Thanksgiving dinner.
10"Ribs"Don CorvanJeff SteinDecember 6, 1990 (1990-12-06)7E09
The girls help Ronnie watch over his restaurant while he is away on vacation. It is what happens afterwards when he returns that will change Charlene's life forever.
Note: This will be Rick Overton's last appearance in the series as a regular.
11"Rent Strike"Howard MurrayTBADecember 20, 1990 (1990-12-20)7E10
The girls organize a rent strike to get the landlord (Tracey Walter) to fix the repairs in the building—only to learn that he transferred the ownership of the building to the tenants, which means the Gilberts now have to deal with their own home issues.
Note: This will be Nerda Volz's first appearance in the series as a regular.
12"Most Likely to Succeed"Don CorvanCindy Begel,
Lesa Kite
January 10, 1991 (1991-01-10)7E12
In an effort to prove that she has accomplished everything she said she would after graduating high school, Charlene does just that in time for her high school reunion.
13"All Bummed Out"Howard MurrayTBAJanuary 24, 1991 (1991-01-24)7E14
For Lent, Charlene says it involves sacrifice, so the girls get a homeless man (William Windom) cleaned up and he lands a job. However, when he turns his back on them, the girls feel he owes at least some gratitude.
14"Babes, Lies & Videotape"Howard MurrayDavid SavelJanuary 31, 1991 (1991-01-31)7E11
Things are really cooking for the Gilberts when Marlene, Darlene and Charlene tries to serve up a chance to romance a chef that Marlene was doing a dating videotape for. Wolfgang Puck guest stars.
15"Hello, Dolly"Howard MurrayRick Copp,
David A. Goodman
February 7, 1991 (1991-02-07)7E13
Charlene lands a job as Dolly Parton's makeup artist, which comes at the same time as a series of rumors about the singer hits the tabloids. Lucy Lee Flippin guest stars.
16"Babes in Boyland"Howard MurrayTBAFebruary 14, 1991 (1991-02-14)7E15
It's off to Alaska as Charlene and Marlene mine the last frontier for single guys. Meanwhile, back in NYC, a single guy from Alaska visits Darlene.
17"Mom"Howard MurrayTBAFebruary 21, 1991 (1991-02-21)7E16
The Gilberts' mother (Barbara Barrie) visits, and it's not all family-friendly when she starts coddling them and blaming Charlene for turning her away.
18"The Last Temptation of Marlene"Art DielhennRick Copp,
David A. Goodman
March 14, 1991 (1991-03-14)7E17
Just as Marlene starts to make a vow to give up dating, she meets an unlikely guy (Steve Witting) at a punk music record store.
19"The House of Gilbert"Art DielhennTBAMarch 28, 1991 (1991-03-28)7E18
A House of Style-inspired episode which finds the Gilberts becoming fashion designers after a department store notices Charlene's unique designs. But they're about to find out soon enough that their new venture is not as fashionable as they envisioned. Leslie Jordan and Susan Kellerman guest-star.
20"Not Married with Children"Rob SchillerTBAApril 25, 1991 (1991-04-25)7E19
After being placed on probation for causing an incident at a New York Rangers game, child-hater Darlene takes her community-service job of being a teacher to a group of children so seriously that she now wants to have children.
21"11 Angry Men and Charlene"Howard MurrayTBAMay 2, 1991 (1991-05-02)7E20
Charlene falls for a fellow juror (Christopher Rich) while she is on jury duty. Sal Viscuso guest-stars.
22"Three's a Crowd"Howard MurrayRick Copp,
David A. Goodman
May 9, 1991 (1991-05-09)7E21
Fed up with living in a one-bedroom apartment, the sisters search for bigger space. But tensions may force the trio to space out on their own.

International broadcasts

The series also aired in France under the title Jamais Deux Sans Trois (Never Two Without Three).

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