“Thank you for being a friend, travelled down the road and back again. Your heart is true, you’re a pal and a confidant.”
A television staple since it’s premier in 1985, Golden Girls has earned its place in the American pop culture canon. But the real question why has the show remained so popular over the years?
“The Golden Girls,” is considered one of the best written shows of all time and there hasn’t really been anything like it since the show’s finale in 1992. It probably wouldn’t see the light of day on today’s NBC. If you think about it the series is essentially a comedic narrative on death. It’s the main characters figuring out how to spend the time they have left now that their husbands are gone and their children are off living their own lives.
So, if you think about it, it’s strange that “The Golden Girls” become such cult favorite.
For all intents and purposes, the sitcom is essentially about four elderly women sharing a house in a retirement community. However what draws people in are the women’s personalities. The show features characters who are fiercely independent with sharp and biting senses of humor. The show writers weren’t afraid to let their characters be mean. The insult driven banter between Rose, Dorothy, Sophia and Blanche is cutting. At times, the dialogue between the women may seem vicious but in my opinion it actually illustrates the bond between the housemates.
Each resident has their own charm and brand of comedy. Rose Nylund, played by Betty White, is a wonderfully airheaded dingbat who is always prepared with an abnormal anecdote from her life in St. Olaf, Minnesota. Blanche Devereaux, played by Rue McClanahan, is the lusty southern widow always talking up her latest exploits. Sophia Petrillo, played by Estelle Getty, is the mother of Bea Arthur’s Dorothy. The oldest in the house, her no-nonsense inappropriate humor comes from her advanced age and old-world attitude. Lastly, Dororthy Zbornak, played by Arthur, has the most dry and world-weary sense of humor. Many times, she seems the most bitter as she’s the only divorcee of the group.
However, it’s not just the leading women that make the show stand out. The show has longevity because it is unconventional. In its 177-episode run, “The Golden Girls” tackled issues that even some modern sitcoms would be weary to touch including: a loved one cross-dressing/ potentially being transgender, the 90s HIV/AIDS epidemic and homosexuality.
It also introduced the world to the idea that women over a certain age can still live full lives. Dorothy, Blanche, Rose, and Sophia have just as many adventures as me and my twenty-something roommates have and they honestly probably and more fun. The approach aging with confidence and a determination to make the most out of their lives.
I can only hope to be as cool as these fictional women when I am older and I will continue to re-watch this show for years to come. Thank the procrastination gods that you can now available to stream on Hulu. So, grab a slice a cheesecake and settle down because these old women are wild.