Thank You for Being a Friend:Why I Love The Golden Girls
Picture it: Me, at 25 years old, watching reruns of The Golden Girls on Hulu by the soft glow of the television at 1:00 am
I remember watching The Golden Girls since I was a very young child. I used to sleep over my grandmother’s house and after dinner we would make mugs of hot tea and watch an episode or two before going to bed. Even when I got a bit older my cousins and I would stay up watching the show together. Then, when I was in college, I found myself watching reruns with some of my girlfriends while sipping wine and eating popcorn. Even now I watch The Golden Girls. When my son was first born and awake every two or three hours for feedings, I would watch the show while feeding him. Sometimes I stay up late and just watch reruns by myself and laugh.
The Golden Girls is a show that I genuinely believe every woman should watch at some point. What is the show about, anyway? It’s the story of four aging female best friends navigating life together in Miami. They all have different backstories, love lives, opinions, and even styles. They are even from different places in America. Despite all of their differences though, Dorothy, Blanche, Rose, and Sophia always come together and prove that friendship is one of the greatest virtues of all and can conquer just about anything.
like love The Golden Girls more than the average person. I am one of those nerds who has a Golden Girls sun shield in her car, the show’s Trivial Pursuit and CLUE games, and even books about the actresses. I wonder if I love the show because of the fond memories I have growing up and watching it with my grandmother. Maybe it’s just because I think the show is hilarious. Maybe I just really enjoyed the witty dialogue.
All of these are possibilities… But I am not buying it. The Golden Girls is truly a quality show, and is one that can teach women a lot about the world through grace, style, friendship, and laughter.
Initially I tried writing this blog post as a straight article but the flow seemed… Wrong. I decided the best way to lay down the reasons why every woman should watch The Golden Girls was in points. Enjoy!
The Golden Girls and Progressive Thinking
I don’t think the show’s progressiveness should be overlooked. These four women confront race and racism, LGBTQ+ rights, unplanned pregnancies, marital and relationship problems, sexism, financial hardship and poverty, aging, grief, disability, career changes, and even immigration all while eating cheesecake in the iconic kitchen. The Golden Girls never shied away from difficult topics and taught audiences how to handle all problems with, again, grace, stye, friendship, and laughter.
Further, The Golden Girls emphasize the importance of community. Any problem that one of the women experience is never fought alone. When Dorothy was heartbroken at her daughter’s wedding after seeing her ex husband, the girls were there for her. When Blanche lost her father (Big Daddy!), the girls were there for her. When Rose needed heart surgery, the girls were there for her. When Sophia felt guilty after her son’s passing, the girls were there for her. The importance of friendship in the show cannot be overlooked. Anything can be solved through love, support, and camaraderie, and The Golden Girls truly prove that.
Women Are Interested in More than Romance… Shocker!
The show also proves that women are not always concerned with romance. Yes, of course romance is a huge part of the show (It’s me, Stan!), but Dorothy, Blanche, Rose, and Sophia confront more problems than just romantic ones. Dorothy deals with the pressures of taking care of an aging mother, Blanche navigates difficult relationships with her children, Rose is a grief counsellor, and Sophia confronts the inevitability of aging. Women are multifaceted creatures. Sure, we love romance. Who doesn’t? But so often women’s literature and media is reduced to nothing more than romance, and as a woman I can tell you that we are much more complex than that.
The Writing and Acting
The comedy of The Golden Girls is outstanding. Dorothy’s wit is as sharp as a knife, Blanche’s romantic situations are so obscure, Rose’s stories about St. Olaf are unlike any stories ever told before, and Sophia’s sarcasm is unmatched. All of this is enhanced by the acting skills of each actress. One cannot watch an episode of The Golden Girls and not at least chuckle once.
Each actress plays her part perfectly. I often think about the fact that Betty White was originally supposed to play Blanche, and Rue McClanahan was supposed to play Rose. I wonder how different the show would have been!
Youth and Aging
Women are obsessed with maintaining their youth. We buy expensive creams, starve ourselves, work out till our bones hurt, and paint our faces every day. The idea of growing old is, well, scary. As women, we are often held to an unattainable standard of beauty that sadly does decrease with age.
…Or does it? One of my favorite things about The Golden Girls is that the characters embrace their age and consider their wisdom a virtue. Sure, Blanche does lie about her age, but she never comes across as a naive child. She is stylish, sexy, has a fulfilling career and love life, and has fun. Dorothy even winds up getting married again! I think it is very good for women to see the positives of aging, and not look at the inevitability of change as a bad thing.
The Role of Unconventional Women
I think all of the points that I made prior to this prove this one. Dorothy, Blanche, Rose, and Sophia are unconventional women, especially for the 1980s-1990s. They do not have husbands any longer, are openly sexual beings with romantic lives, live on their own, have careers, go back to school, are concerned with many aspects of life, and defy the typical social norms women are often confined to. In a lot of ways, they are great images of feminism.
With all of that being said, I think that it is important for women to have these characters to see on screen. Nowadays we have shows that showcase strong female characters, but The Golden Girls was one of the first ones, and we should respect that.
The Women are Morally Good
In addition to being strong and independent, Dorothy, Blanche, Rose, and Sophia are morally good characters. They participate in charity events regularly, volunteer for children’s programs, Dorothy is a school teacher who is genuinely concerned about her students, Rose is a grief counsellor, etc. There are even episodes where they take in a pregnant teenager, visit a homeless shelter for Christmas, refuse to let romantic interests jeopardize their friendships, and take care of those in need (who they dislike, such as Stan after his surgery).
Again, morally good characters such as Dorothy, Blanche, Rose, and Sophia are important to see on screen. We can truly learn something about selflessness, charity, and love through the actions of these women.