Carrie Bradshaw & Co. may have broken ground when they took to the streets in their Manolos to preach solidarity for single women, but they weren’t the first. Thirteen years earlier, The Golden Girls did it smarter and funnier, in much more comfortable shoes. Last Sunday night at the sixth annual TV Land Awards, Betty White, Bea Arthur and Rue McClanahan were honored for their roles as Rose Nylund, Dorothy Zbornak and Blanche Devereaux on one of NBC’s most popular, and longest-running sitcoms. Steve Carell presented The Golden Girls with the Pop Culture Award, saying, “It is a show that has crossed the line from television series to pop culture phenomenon.”
Look at them on the red carpet! Don’t you just want to run up and hug them, and thank them for being a friend, traveling down the road and back again? Don’t you want to invite them over for dinner to talk about the pranks they must have pulled on each other when they were filming The Golden Girls? Can’t you just imagine the phone calls that went into getting ready for this show? (“Rue, it’s Betty. I just spoke to Bea and she is planning to wear flip-flops for some inexplicable reason. I’ll be wearing my blue, suede flats. I hope no one steps on them. Haha, get it? Remember to eat something before the awards, honey, you don’t want the kind of champagne fiasco you had at the ’87 Emmys. Bea and I had to practically carry you back to Miami. See you on the red carpet!”)
Growing up I never missed an episode of The Golden Girls, even after my little sister once quoted something she’d heard on the show to my grandparents. “No warning; no foreplay; just wham, bam, thank you, ma’am!” she exclaimed one night over dinner.
In seven seasons — from 1985 to 1992 — Rose, Blanche, Dorothy and Sophia lived and loved and navigated retired life with an unapologetic devotion to one another. The show explored topics that were rarely discussed at the time, especially on prime time television: sex, immigration, homelessness, AIDS, addiction, anti-Semitism, interracial marriage and a whole host gay issues, including coming out and same-sex marriage. The Golden Girls explored the stories of gay children and lesbian best friends with the kind of humor and aplomb that is still sadly absent in mainstream media.
In the second season, Dorothy’s lesbian roommate from college came to visit, and fell in love with Rose. Dorothy’s conversation with Sophia and Blanche that followed ranks among the best moments in the show’s history.
When Rose eventually discovered that Dorothy’s best friend was in love with her, she simply said, “I really don’t understand these feelings you have … but if I did understand, and if I was, you know, like you … I think I’d be very proud and flattered that you thought of me that way.”
Sophia said, “If one of my children was gay, I wouldn’t love him any less. I would wish him all the happiness in the world. Now, shut your fat mouth so I can get some sleep.”
The Golden Girls opened up dialogue in a way no show had before it. And almost as importantly, they taught us that nearly all the world’s problems could be solved over coffee and cheesecake with your best friends.
What are some of the best moments you shared with The Golden Girls? Is it just my nostalgia kicking in, or are they the sauciest, funniest foursome we’ve ever invited into our living rooms?