Sunday, July 11, 2010

Why Do We Like The Golden Girls?

This post has been on the calendar for some time, but expedited as a result of recent events.

First, Betty White (Rose) hosted the best SNL episode of the season (yes, I place it above Tina Fey and James Franco).


And the second wasn’t such a happy note. Rue McClanahan (Blanche) passed away early last month. This one’s for you, girl. Thank you for being a friend.

Rue McClanahan

The thought has been on my mind for a while, but I’ve finally processed it. Why do gay men like a television show about four women?

Reason #1 : “The Fourmula”

NBC’s Golden Girls was a pioneer of television in many ways, and one sheer sign of success is imitation. The show presented a trend which was imitated at least three times. Rose, Blanche, Dorothy, and Sofia came together as four female friends seeing each other through the happiest and hardest times of their lives.


Each of the women stood out, exemplifying some aspect of womanhood (a topic I’ll discuss later in this series); however, together the ensemble aspect of the show proved a force to reckon with in the world of television.

The following year, another network, CBS, presented it’s own take on the female ensemble comedy. Designing Women premiered in 1986—one year after Golden Girls.


Well-received, but shuffled around in time slots the show was nearly cancelled before the network found a strong pairing with another show featuring another opinionated women Murphy Brown. The show echoed the political and feminist issues of Golden Girls featuring a younger cast.

Following a strong seven-year run, Golden Girls evanesced into television history in 1992. Though the show left a short-lived spinoff in its wake (The Golden Palace—not about a retirement home). The following year another show featuring four women premiered with its own spin on the “fourmula.”

Living Single courtesy OxygenErika Alexander, Queen Latifah, Kim Fields, Kim Coles

Living Single brought together four independent, single, Brooklyn-based African American women. Honestly, this is a show that deserves revisiting on my part. Growing up in Utah, this show on Fox didn’t really hold much appeal because I didn’t know that many single ladies at the age of 10 let alone African American single ladies.

In watching a few clips, I’ve come to appreciate early Queen Latifah (one of my heroes) as well as an older Kim Fields (Tootie from The Facts of Life). They manage to make being single, successful, and different fashionable for the 90s generation in the wake of an endearing 80s sitcom.

One cannot wrap out this part of the series without a nod to perhaps the most successful show featuring a female foursome.


Interestingly, Sex and the City first appeared on HBO only months after Living Single wrapped up in 1998 and is still fresh in our minds with the latest film installment, adding more sex, fashion (of the shoulderpad-less variety), and (of course) Manhattan to the picture.

Clearly, Golden Girls (at least in the form of its subsequent incarnations) has had an impact on television. In a world largely dominated by men and male-ensemble casts, a place was reserved for a new type of television show thanks to four women in night coats bonding over late-night cheesecake.


Anonymous said...

Watched Golden Girls from time to time

I still like Living Single it's soo funny

I do think that Golden Girls did help getting acceptance for women and I think as time goes on something similar can happen for the LGBT group


C.J. said...

Well, I'm not a guy, and I'm not gay, but I LOVE Golden Girls!!! I watch it whenever it's on, and I'm in front of a TV (which is often when I'm doing paperwork, or writing). Golden Girls was funny, relevant, and non-mean/spiteful in its humor. Plus, the characters were (are) real. That's rare in any show, no matter what the composition.

Phunk Factor said...

The FOURmula has been constantly in fashion BECAUSE it's so darn good!

I really don't kno abt most of the shows u mentioned except fr SATC n Golden Girls....more abt the former because I tend to watch it alot!!!

A Gay Mormon Boy said...

@Ethan: I still need to watch Living Single. I'm starting on SATC very soon.

@C.J.: You have a very good point that it's uplifting. I hadn't really thought about it in those terms.

@Phunk Factor: I'm excited to look for more connections between these shows and see if any others fit.

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