I was thirteen years old when The Golden Girls debuted in 1985. As the show was a smash hit right out of the box, I certainly tuned into a few episodes but it is quite understandable that a boy just starting his teenage years may not understand, or be very interested in, the antics of a quartet of sassy older ladies. I may have chuckled at a few of the gags and loved the fact that one of the characters, the feisty Sophia Petrillo, was an Italian-American from New York who spoke like many of my relatives but I mostly forgot about the show after a short while. As the eighties progressed and the Nineties dawned, I just remember thinking, “That show is still on?”
Around 1995-‘97, I was working at a store in Boston when I had my next encounter with The Golden Girls. One of my coworkers was a gay man who loved the show. He tells me of a bar that he would go to after work that would have The Golden Girls playing on the TV! This was around the time that the show would have been racking up serious air time in syndication. It began to become apparent that there was much more of a reach to this show that I would have thought as it seemed to be thriving beyond its original lifespan.
Fast forward to 2005 and my lovely girlfriend – four years away from becoming my lovely wife – divulges her love for “The Girls”. Apparently, every night while studying into the wee hours of the morning, she would have The Golden Girls playing in the background. And since the show runs incessantly on Lifetime, TV Land, The Hallmark Channel, and WE, it is easy to have that happen. Since she is a few years – ok, quite a few years – younger than me, and was only a few months old when the show debuted, I would think that this was pretty funny.
Then she began buying the individual seasons on DVD.
Disc by disc, we would peel through the shows and I was surprised by how clever the writing was, how strong the characterizations were and most important, how funny the dialog was. But of course, the funniest of material is meaningless without an actress to sell it and The Golden Girls had that angle covered! In fact, not only did each actress win Emmy Awards for their work on the show but they created truly iconic characters in the cannon of sitcom history.
The characters are so strongly drawn, that after watching only a few episodes, you felt as if you really ‘know’ the ladies. It gives the show its “comfort factor” – everyone has a mother, grandmother, aunt or sister that they can relate to the characters on this show. Although, maybe none as hilariously sarcastic as Dorothy Zbornak, as naively optimistic as Rose Nylund or with the over-the-top Southern camp of Blanche Devereux.
But let me return to my personal situation once more – once my wife graduates college and we move in together she tells me that she is now so used to going to sleep with “GG” playing that she needs at least one or two episodes to fall asleep – and let’s not forget that we have seven seasons to choose from here – that’s 21 DVD’s full! And that is where I find myself – able to recite every episode across seven seasons backwards.
Thankfully, the quality of the writing and the acting, still make it enjoyable – I’ve yet to have “GG Burnout”. I actually have an episode on in the background at this very moment – Season 2, episode 16 for the curious. And with all of that, the only way for me to wrap this up is to say “Thank you for being a friend”.
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