Betty White turned 99 years old last week. Hearing about her birthday made our team reflect on her wickedly funny and sexually devious sitcom, The Golden Girls. The show's pilot episode aired in 1985, but its comedy is truly timeless. It's no surprise The Golden Girls garnered 68 Emmy nominations with 11 wins during its run on NBC.
Blanche Devereaux (Rue McClanahan), Dorothy Zbornak (Betty White), Rose Nylund (Beatrice Arthur), and Sophia Petrillo (Estelle Getty) were four older women living (and loving) in Miami. They were single women as divorcees and widows, and the show was light years better for that perspective. Instead of focusing on their empty nest or discussing their grandchildren constantly, the show mostly revolved around their love lives, as episodes often had them talking about (and engaging in!) sex, STD prevention, ex-husbands, and flirtation.
We all loved Blanche, who managed to balance Southern Belle sensibility against her iron-strong horniness. If you've never seen the show, I promise you that you're reading this right: she was an elderly, incredibly horny woman on standard cable television.
But Betty White as Dorothy was the perfect counter to Blanche's wild woman. As a far more innocent Dorothy from a little town in Minnesota called St. Olaf, she often stole the scene with wide-eyed questions and naive comments.
Sophia and Rose were a Sicilian mother-daughter pair from New York: sarcastic, cynical, and constantly bickering. They feel like a more realistic portrayal of a mother-daughter relationship than most on television today. Bea Arthur is outstandingly funny as Rose, but Estelle Getty, playing her mother Sophia, manages to outwit Bea in most scenes.
Almost every episode ends with them sitting around a table, eating cheesecake while making wisecracks about whatever situation had happened. There were two spin-offs from the series: The Golden Palace and Empty Nest but no one on our team saw those shows, so we have no opinion on them.
And of course, thank you for being a friend.