The Golden Girls

1985 | United States

Superior comedy from the talented Susan (Soap) Harris that pulled no punches in addressing the realities of growing old, whilst treating its core characters in a positive way, proving that not only did life begin at forty it also went on well into the 50's, 60's and beyond. 

Blanche Devereaux (Rue McClanahan) was a flirty Southern belle with an insatiable appetite for men. Recently widowed, Blanche decided to share her Miami home with friends Dorothy Zbornak (Bea Arthur from Maude), a schoolteacher recently divorced from her husband of 38 years standing, and the scatter-brained Rose Nuyland (Betty White from The Mary Tyler Moore Show), who worked as a grief counsellor and frequently spoke of her Scandinavian roots (her mothers maiden name was Gerkelnerbigenhoffstettlerfrau), and her hometown of St Olaf, Minnesota. 

Making up the foursome was Dorothy's mother, Sicilian-born Sophia (Estelle Getty), who came to live at the house when her retirement home burned down. Having suffered a stroke that damaged certain nerve cells in her brain, Sophia lacked any tact, and the result was that nobody was safe from her forthright opinions. However, the women remained the best of friends and would often get together around the kitchen table for midnight snacks of cheese cake or ice cream whilst discussing the more important issues of middle age, such as sagging backsides and drooping breasts. 

The series was commissioned by NBC chief Brandon Tartikoff to reflect the changing attitudes in the USA by, and toward its growing population of 'over 40' female divorcees. During its eight-year run the show picked up no less than 10 Emmy awards including two for Best Comedy. The last episodes, spread over two parts and entitled 'One Flew Out Of The Cuckoo's Nest', involved Dorothy marrying Blanche's uncle Lucas (Leslie 'Police Squad' Nielson). Following this the remaining friends spun off into a new series entitled The Golden Palace, where they attempted to run a hotel. 

In the UK, The Golden Girls was remade as Brighton Bellesstarring Wendy Craig, Jean Boyt, Sheila Hancock and Sheila Gish. It was Carlton Television's first comedy and when shown critics and viewers alike slated the series to such an extent, that it was pulled off before the first (and thankfully, only) season had even concluded.

Published on December 19th, 2018. Written by Laurence Marcus & Mike Spadoni for Television Heaven.