Over the 30+ years since its inception, Golden Girls is still one of the most beloved TV shows but how has the show managed to outlive most of its cast?
On paper, the concept for Golden Girls doesn’t sound like much. In its simplest form, the show is about four older women who are roommates and their daily lives. They deal with things like jobs, relationships and family. However, Golden Girls broke the mold for everything people knew a sitcom could be in the late ’80s and early ’90s.
Before getting into the show’s relevance now, it’s important to look back at the show when it was originally airing. When Golden Girls premiered in 1985, the show was immediately beloved by audiences including during a test screening where viewers gave the show a standing ovation. It quickly got the Saturday 9:00 pm timeslot and essentially, the rest is history as the show continued that way for six seasons before eventually ending a season later when Bea Arthur wanted to exit the show.
Over 30 years later, Golden Girls is every bit as beloved as it was then. People whose parents grew up with the show are now consuming it themselves. It’s rare to see a show as popular and as rewatchable as the Golden Girls is. With only one of the stars still alive, it’s clear the show’s popularity has even outlived its cast. The major question is how has Golden Girls continued to stay relevant well past its conclusion?
What made Golden Girls so unique was that it featured aging women in lead roles which is still a major no-no in Hollywood today. Looking at TV shows now, it’s rare to see women over the age of 40 playing a lead role. Golden Girls embraced their ages and even celebrated them for it, making the show unlike anything that had come before or since. It was an important step for the network and the actors as it gave them a second-wave of fame.
While some older shows are extremely dated, Golden Girls is not. Rather, the issues the show was focusing on then are still issues today. The show had episodes about gay rights, poverty, interracial relationship, divorce, being a single parent, immigration and death.
While other topics such as HIV and AIDS were a product of the show’s timing, it could easily be changed to another disease together. Regardless, the series had no issues in dealing with a controversial topic or talking about something no other shows would touch.
What makes Golden Girls so special even now is its humor. While some of the jokes are a bit watered-down now, the humor is every bit as crisp as it was then. Most of the humor came via the girls making fun of each other but there was also a good bit of humor from pop culture and politics, too. Their loving or sometimes, not-so-loving teasing was part of the reason why the actresses played so well off of each other especially Betty White.
One important aspect of the show hasn’t even been discussed yet and it’s the friendship between the four women. While it seems like an unlikely grouping, Dorothy, Blanche, Rose, and Sophia are best friends turned family. I’m sure all of us can think of someone who we share a similar connection with and Golden Girls illustrated it perfectly. Their friendship was the core of the show and luckily, most of it stayed the same when the cameras shut off.
Overall, Golden Girls is relevant for every reason mentioned above but also because it’s one of the most syndicated shows on TV. Currently, reruns of the show are airing on TV Land and Hallmark. Additionally, the entire series is available to stream on Hulu, making it extremely accessible.
As someone who recently watched the entire series, I can see why people who weren’t even born when it premiered, love it. There was nothing like Golden Girls when it premiered and there is still nothing like Golden Girls now.
Even with most of its cast gone, Golden Girls still lives on today and that’s something to applaud for a show that had everything working against it. Rather, the series has its own fandom today and continues to delight fans of all ages. If there’s one show that will stand the test of time, it’s Golden Girls.
What makes Golden Girls so timeless? Share your thoughts in the comments below.