I can't remember exactly when I first watched The Golden Girls growing up, but I always knew, from hearing from my parents, that it was one of the greatest shows on TV. Re-runs were already on from before my birth of how my parents would love the show and even after, when we'd watch them together.
Running from 1985 until 1992, The Golden Girls has touched the lives of every person who has ended up enjoying the lives and friendships between those four hilarious women.
There was no comedy quite like it before. From issues of loneliness and aging, to sexuality and self-confidence, the show touched on concerns everybody watching had, but didn't know how to discuss.
The best part of it all was that the show centered around four women living in each other's lives, independently and opinionated. We didn't require the nuclear family-dynamic or the angsty teens to converse about the same problems that Blanche, Dorothy, Sophia, and Rose could just as well and with an added level of humor. The dynamics between these women and how they tackled their lives brought joy and laughter to most homes every time a new episode aired.
Most importantly, these episodes spoke about current events that other shows were uncomfortable with addressing. Wonderful storylines positively involving gay characters (for actual plot purposes, not cheap laughs), conversations about mental health especially involving being lonely and beauty, as well as, addiction to drugs, have made this show stand out from the rest.
1. Openness of sexualityGiphy
This show highlighted not only different kinds of sexuality and was incredibly respectful and engaging in the way that it did, but also was straightforward about sexuality and relationships between older people. What made this show so special was that the same issues that were being tackled by younger generations were focused on in a show about some of the oldest women.
Blanche is repeatedly made fun of as she has the reputation of carrying on multiple relationships and affairs, but only part of the joke was her age. A very small part. The real humor came from her overconfidence and then way she carried herself. But, the show never de-legitimized her ability to be a sexual person regardless of her age.
It could be very easy to cast aside those of an older generation as unable to understand the happenings of the day. However, The Golden Girls proved that this wasn't just not the case, but that it was ignorant to do so.
To add to that previous point, the show also discussed relationships, even after someone's first love and husband had already passed away. Conversations of loss are a common topic on the show, which makes sense considering the age of the characters. The idea that no one was too old to find love, happiness, or follow their dreams was key to the success of the show. The empathy created around older people was so strong that the show carried without losing this edge for the many years it ran.
3. Honesty and manipulation
The conversation also went towards honesty and the importance of not manipulating people. In one of the episodes, Blanche confronts a man who has lied about sleeping with her to gain political interest in the race he is running in. The importance of a person's word and the quick turning against a woman is clear. Blanche vehemently refuses that she has slept with the man, but her friends don't believe her and call her out. The lies are eventually revealed and her word is restored.
4. Physical beauty
At one point, Blanche meets with her sorority sisters and realizes that they have gone through different variations of plastic surgery, such as having a face lift. She seriously considers the notion because of her belief that it will make her seem younger and more beautiful. The four women have a conversation about the whole process and the pressures on the aging to look a certain way or be cast aside.
5. Problems of moneyGiphy
One of the episodes was about the issues of money and loneliness. In the quest to find a jacket with a winning lottery ticket, the girls find themselves in a shelter. Rose speaks to a man who is staying at the shelter and they learn that he has a degree, but that he is an alcoholic because there is a severe lack of jobs. At another point, a friend comes to speak with Sophia about how she had to leave her home because she could not afford to keep staying there and that no one would take her in. The conversation even turns to loneliness and depression that many elderly people feel in the U.S.
6. Unpredictability of lifeGiphy
Sophia says it best here regarding the unpredictability of life. Throughout the course of the show, the characters lose or have lost people close to them, have had unpredictable lives, and have to mentally deal with aging. The optimism that shines through despite that and the love that the women have for each other gives hope.
These four women have changed the face of comedy, even more than those that came before them. Ten years of laughs and tears have left a profound impact on the world of television and on the shows viewers.
The show is currently available for streaming and can probably be bought on other platforms, as well. I highly recommend that you watch it, if you haven't already.