Everybody loves an easy oasy sit com. Harmless ‘put the tv on, switch the mind off’ shows are just what the end of a long day needs. My current favourite is the reruns on TV of an old gem, The Golden Girls. Why should you care about a sitcom from the 80s that follows ladies navigating their way through the golden years of their lives? Well, let me convert you.
The Golden Girls ran from 1985 to 1992, showing four older women sharing an apartment in Florida. There was sarcastic and voice-of-reason Dorothy (Bea Arthur), her wiry 80-something mother Sophia (Estelle Getty), and widows Blanche (Rue McClanahan), an aging southern belle man-eater, and naïve Rose (Betty White). It absolutely paved the way for female lead sitcoms.
Sex and The City is often considered to be the innovator of the ‘four gal pals discussing men, work and more men’ dynamic but that’s not quite the case. With the obvious exception of Sophia, these are now relatively stereotypical roles within all female ensemble sitcoms. Circling back to Sex and the City, Samantha is Blanche, Charlotte is Rose, and both Carrie and Miranda are taken from Dorothy. Sex and the City is very 90s, but the present day example is definitely HBO’s Girls, regardless of creator Lena Dunham being quick to deny the comparison. Shoshanna is Charlotte/Rose, innocent and anxious. Jessa is Samantha/Blanche, the bohemian type that often finds life isn’t actually always carefree and easy. Marnie is Miranda/Dorothy, the more uptight career-orientated woman. Then there is Hannah, the self-absorbed aspiring writer that embodies traits of both Sex and the City’s Carrie and Golden Girls’ Dorothy. Yes, The Golden Girls is about women in their fifties, finding new zest for life in Florida; not quite four young women finding love and careers in New York but the character moulds are still ever-present.
Storylines that are sometimes still controversial today were featured in the sitcom. Despite its conservative appearance and mostly light-hearted approach to drama, The Golden Girls had an HIV scare for one of its main characters, and several gay supporting characters, including Blanche’s brother. These topics are less taboo now but the show helped break down barriers so that myths surrounding homosexuality could be discredited.
Then there’s the eighties fashion galore. I have yet to watch an episode of The Golden Girls that doesn’t make me want to invest in a nylon tracksuit. Many will consider 80s fashion to be something that should not be revisited and, to a point, this is true. Betty White can rock a nylon tracksuit, I cannot. But walk into any high street clothes shop tomorrow, be it H&M, Topshop or anywhere else, and you will be find rails of kimonos as we clutch onto Summer, piles of chunky knits for we accept our cold Autumn reality, and that always original trend of floral prints to have us excited for far off Spring. Watch one episode of The Golden Girls and you will be greeted with current trends; you just have to have your eyes open to let inspiration come from unlikely style icons of the past.
Every once in a while don’t flick over what looks like an outdated bit of tv fluff, give it a chance and it might just change your perspective. Or it won’t, but at least you tried.