“Golden Girls”: Being golden has no expiration date
For the few people that have not been graced with the opportunity to view “The Golden Girls” (starring Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty), it revolves around four older single women who are sharing a house in Miami. Widows, Rose and Blanche, share the home with divorceé Dorothy. In the pilot episode, the three are joined by Dorothy’s 80-year-old mother, Sophia, after a fire destroyed her retirement home.
“The Golden Girls” released their first episode on Sept. 14, 1985. The first episode, while incredibly funny, managed to tackle serious topics.
This episode sets the groundwork for this incredibly progressive show and the topics that are to be tackled in episodes to come. According to “The Golden Girls’” page on IMDb, by the time the finale aired on May 9, 1992, “The Golden Girls” received 68 Emmy nominations, securing 11 wins and is currently one of the only four shows in television history whose principal actors all won Emmys for their roles.
Here at AU and in the U.S., LGBTQ, immigration, discrimination, race, poverty and people who have disabilities are always a topic of discussion. Arguments start over it: we’ve been down this road and back again.
One of the main examples that comes to mind is Blanche’s younger brother, Clayton. He not only opens up about being gay, he announces that is going to marry is boyfriend, Doug.
Blanche says that while she does not understand what he is doing, she will try to respect his decision to marry Doug.
Sophia has a quote that, I believe, is the reaction the younger generation is trying to teach the older generation: “If one of my kids was gay, I wouldn’t love him one bit less. I would wish him all the happiness in the world.”
Another example is Dorothy’s friend, Jean. Jean is staying with the girls, but they do not know she is a lesbian. Throughout the episode, Blanche and Rose figure out how to deal with this information in their own ways.
Both of these episodes deal with issues that are realistic and are situations that could happen to anyone. With a show like “The Golden Girls”, it addresses these issues with a sensitive and vulnerable nature, all the while keeping the mood light.
Mario Lopez stars as one of Dorothy’s gifted students who writes an essay about what it means to be an American. Dorothy enters his essay into a writing competition and he wins. His achievement lands him in the newspaper, but also catches the attention of the Department of Immigration and Naturalization Services.
He is deported for being in America illegally.
He does not blame Dorothy for entering his essay in the competition and he does not fight the court’s decision. He understands that he needs to go back until the proper procedures are followed for him to come back to America.
Rose encounters age discrimination when she applies for a new job after her career as a grief counselor came to an end.
Alongside this age discrimination, one of the long-running themes throughout the show centers around aging. How to do it gracefully, stay sharp and get back out into the dating scene — lessons that do not only pertain to the ‘80s and ‘90s.
Dorothy’s son, Michael, brings home an older African American woman named Lorraine. He says that they are going to get married and her family walks in. During the episode, the families try to find ways to get along.
It is not until the couple decides to elope that their differences are put aside and the families rush to the chapel to explain that they can get along in the future.
Sophia donates an old jacket to charity, but does not realize that a winning lottery ticket is in the pocket. Once this comes to light, the girls try to track down the missing ticket. Their search leads them to a homeless shelter where they pretend to be homeless to find the ticket.
The ladies start to converse with the other homeless people. As they talk, they realize that one of the men has a degree, but there is a lack of jobs, and another man was fired from his work due to the fact nobody wants to train people his age.
After listening to their testimonies, the ladies decided to donate the ticket to the homeless shelter.
Poverty is often depicted in television shows, but “The Golden Girls “decided to take a more human approach to the topic. Not everyone becomes homeless due to their actions. Poverty is often a product of the economy, discrimination and other personal issues.
Disabilities are not overlooked in this show. Your disability does not define you, that comes from your character. Judging someone based on their disability is not only dumb, it just does not make any sense.
Rose’s blind sister comes for a visit and learns how to take care of herself. After a small fire in the kitchen, Rose and her sister come to the serious realization that she can no longer live by herself and she gets a service dog. Pouring lemonade and getting dressed is one thing, but being in a kitchen surrounded by dangerous utensils and fire is another.
Rose also dated a man with dwarfism and was always aware, and even embarrassed at some points, that people were staring. He asks her to dinner and says that they need to have a serious talk. She panics at first, thinking he is going to propose, and ends up realizing that she loves him and would say yes.
But he breaks up with her…because she is not Jewish.
The last example is Dorothy’s boyfriend, Ted, who is in a wheelchair. She gets past her insecurities about going out in public with him, only to find out that he has a wife. Again, people are people, no matter what size, shape or color.
So picture it: America, 2019. There is a warmth in the air and getting along is a little easier. Well, it is a lot easier with cheesecake.