Dorothy Zbornak (the majestic, the magisterial Bea Arthur), widowed Rose Nylund (Betty White), who was as sweetly naive as Dorothy was acerbic, Blanche Devereaux (Rue McClanahan), a Southern belle man-eater (“I could get herpes just listening to this story,”
Between Gags, You Can Barely Catch Your Breath in This Review of The Golden Girls
Dorothy notes during one Dever-anecdote), and Sofia (Estelle Getty), Dorothy’s octogenarian mot It was made available in its entirety in the United States on Hulu (or almost in its entirety – one episode containing a joke about blackface was removed), where a new generation of fans developed a taste for watching four actors with a combined zillion years of experience and talent to burn create something greater than the sum of their parts. The stars would hit every line out of the park week after week (like they did in the pre-binge period). Now, the show is coming to Disney+, and the streaming platform will be hoping to recreate the success with as many of its young acolytes as possible. It’s as much a nostalgia trip as anything for those of us old enough to remember it the first time around. Rose’s stories about growing up in her small Minnesota town are just as befuddling as you recall. (“Christmas without fruitcake is like St Sigmund’s Day without the headless boy!”), as we say in St Olaf. Dorothy and Sofia continue to exemplify the wonderful bond between mother and daughter. (“Jealousy is an unpleasant emotion, Dorothy. And you’re the same way in everything with no back.”
“Please accept my mother’s apologies. She had a minor stroke a few years ago, which rendered her completely obnoxious.”) Blanche remains the most powerful combination of charm and confidence you’ve ever seen, as well as a beacon of lustful femininity without guilt. (“I believe you’ve backed me into a corner, and when I’m backed into a corner, I fight like a wildcat! If I’ve had too much to drink, I’ll slide down the wall and make passionate love on the carpet.”) However, once the roseate glow has faded, you begin to wonder what happened to all the potential that this 35-year-old musical held. What happened to its descendants? Where are the myriad of sitcoms that should have followed such an early success – it was a hit from the start – much alone one about elderly women that has lasted so long?
Where are the comedies that deal with women’s life in their whole, seamlessly ranging over topics like menopause, worries about grown children, and beginning new relationships past what society considers to be their prime? Where are the shows that focus on female friendships and easily pass the Bechdel test (in which women converse about topics other than men)? Where are the shows that have learned from this seven-year demonstration that women, like men, can be complex, rebarbative, stubborn, inconsistent, and hilarious, hilarious, hilarious, then replicated, renewed, and built on the formula? They haven’t arrived. The forces arrayed against such occurrences appear to have been too powerful, just as Cagney & Lacey did not give rise to a string of copycat shows. Perhaps this time, after more than three decades, we’ll have better luck. Let’s see what happens. Imagine the year is 2021, and you’re watching television.
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