I own all seven seasons of, “The Golden Girls” on DVD. It frequently turns into quite the conversation piece for visitors who see all the jewel-toned box sets sitting on our bookshelves next to “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and, “Star Wars”. It makes people make a little scrunchy face and go, “Huh?” Yet whenever the subject comes up, inevitably a man or woman roughly around the same age as myself (a millennial, let’s call them) pipes up and says, “I love that show!”
So for everyone puzzled by the seemingly new explosion of Golden Girls fans, let me give you some reasons why we love the show and why you might want to consider giving it a shot too.
1.) It’s the original “Sex and the City” only far better, and believe it or not, a 1980’s sitcom is more realistic than that HBO tripe. That’s all I can say without getting really riled up.
2.) This isn’t your grandma’s comedy. Oh wait, actually it is. But it’s not as tame as it looks on the outside. For all you fans of dirty jokes, believe me it’s got plenty of them. Enough to make you good and uncomfortable. Yeah, the show is about women in their golden years, hence the title. But it’s a very progressive piece of work as a whole, which treats older people like they are STILL PEOPLE, and not just knitting junkies or deaf old Betties.
3.) The Golden Girls have quite the lifestyle. I would like to be living like they are when I’m that age. Miami, living with my friends, working part time, doing Community Theater, and going to the beach…we already have a long term plan.
4.) Okay, a legitimate reason. We watched this show with our grandmas. The 80’s were a magical time, where there was plenty of programming for the older set to choose from with characters that they could relate to. Such as Matlock, Murder She Wrote, The Golden Girls, the list goes on and on. So Bea Arthur is as familiar to us as Mickey Mouse. I not only watched it with my grandma, but I also listened to her talk about it with HER friends at the “Y” during aquatic exercise classes or over lunch. So I got a double dose.
5.) It’s genuinely funny. This is where people usually roll their eyes. But chances are, you are only making fun of the Golden Girls because it’s cool to pick on it. Because you are part of the Family Guy generation, where everything is mocked and twisted and dismantled without even knowing why you’re doing it. And that’s okay, mocking is good and has its place. But you should at least know something well enough to pick on it, know why you specifically don’t like it. Not just, “It’s stupid…because.” Don’t be the dumb high school jock type when it comes to raining on the Golden Girls parade. If you legitimately don’t like it, then by all means let fly! But don’t discriminate just because it’s aired on Lifetime.
Just stop and think about some of the media that you like that didn’t age so well. How about you, “Saved By The Bell” junkies? (Which makes Golden Girls look like a dignified drama.) Yes, the costumes are funny now. But the show is GOOD. It is good writing. It’s full of excellent template type characters who you can throw into any situation and let hilarity ensure. And mark my words; someday Bea Arthur will be respected as a legitimate female comedian. She has amazing timing, an incredible voice, and there’s not a woman today who is on television that is as funny as she was in her greatest moments.
6.) They make fun of Miami Vice. A lot. The show is sort of like a time capsule. A substitute, “I love the 80’s”. You’ll be watching and say, “I remember those hats!” or, “I can’t believe people used to wear that/worship that celebrity/watch that t.v. show/use those cameras.” The list goes on and on. And what I love about actual shows from the eighties is that they often feature the mundane props of the decade, the things not cool enough to bring up now, but just enough to give you a high dosage of, “Hey, I remember that!”
7.) Comedy Duos Abound. Because the show created such unique characters with very individual quirks, the show works almost like a Broadway show and often features scenes that act as “routines” a la Abbot and Costello or Laurel and Hardy. Even though the show is branded and known as an 80’s show, there is an attempt to give it a classic comedy feel. And it works. Pair a dumb blonde with a sarcastic old crone. Take an oversexed stereotype and pair her with a cranky conservative. The show features non-stop moments like these.
8.) You’ll grow to love the characters. For all the hyperbole that the show has to offer, you will begin to love the girls. Like any truly good show, they know when to catch you off guard with a genuine moment. It happens from time to time, that a show will feature a plot point that makes you feel something legitimate. There’s a sweet and sentimental side to the show that will get you where you live emotionally. Not all the time, but every now and then.
9.) Did I mention it’s funny? I did. I know. But there are moments in this show that will have you laughing out loud and wiping tears from your eyes. Or at the very least chuckling, even if you don’t want to admit it to anyone. (Bonus: There are plenty of famous guest stars too. And lots of, “before they were famous” appearances as well.)
10.) They pulled it off. A show about four older women. That’s it. No time travel, no action scenes, no leading men…just four regular women trying to make ends meet. You MUST RESPECT THAT. Even today, often films or television shows that are meant to be directly aimed at women, women’s films as well, are pandering and insulting. I often feel like I’m being talked down to when I’m given “women’s” programming. And I’m not saying the Golden Girls is the Rosetta Stone of female-led shows…but it’s as close as we might ever get. That in and of itself is kind of sad when I think about it. It’s not a soap opera, it shows more facets of womanhood that “Grey’s Anatomy” or, “Desperate Housewives” ever does. Man I hate those shows.
And you have to know that they did something right if so many of us still love it today.
I know I sound like the Chris Crocker of senior citizen television programming, but give it a chance, or leave it alone. That’s all I’m saying.