Cennamology Chief Editor
With reruns airing frequently on The Hallmark Channel, TV Land, LogoTV, and other channels, it is no doubt that the classic sitcom "The Golden Girls," still has a devoted fan base 22 years after the premiere of its final episode.
Actually, I did not even start watching the show until about last summer, when it was one of the few things on in the morning before I went to work. In the many episodes that I have seen since then, I know that one of the reasons many channels still air reruns is that "The Golden Girls" was a show well ahead of its time, with a valuable lesson learned every half hour. A world where everybody enjoys some cheesecake while watching Rose, Dorothy, Blanche, and Sophia will be a better world than the one we live in.
The child-like innocence of Rose is one page everybody should take out of the book of Betty White. Often at the annoyance of her roommates, Rose is an example of how we can all better the world by being children at heart. In one of my favorite episodes, "Letters to Gorbachev," Rose writes a letter to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev expressing her fears about nuclear war and her desire for peace (a reference to the real-life story of Samantha Smith).
Bea Arthur's character of Dorothy shows that one can be stern and pensive while also being very caring towards others. A substitute teacher, Dorothy has been shown to be a strict and very serious educator who still shows great care for her students. In "Dorothy's Prized Pupil," she tutors a boy named Mario (conveniently played by a young Mario Lopez) and helps him discover his previously untapped academic potential. However, after she encouraged him to apply to an essay contest, the government discovers that he is in the country illegally, and he is set to be deported.
Dorothy feels a guilt similar to what a mother would feel if she lost her child, and does whatever she can to keep Mario in the country. Not only is this a lesson of the bond between teacher and student, it is also about the bond a young person feels to the country they have grown up in, even if it's different from their birth country.
Blanche taught viewers that it is never too late to correct the mistakes you have made in your life. Blanche is revealed to have been a less-than-ideal mother, as evident in episodes involving her daughter Rebecca. These episodes included some of the most riveting storylines of the series. In Rebecca's first appearance, she has gained a lot of weight since Blanche last saw her, and she also brings home a guy that treats her very poorly, using her as the butt of fat jokes at every opportunity he gets.
Blanche is afraid to say anything at first because she does not want to reopen the rift between her and her daughter again. By the end, after Rebecca tells her that she and her boyfriend are engaged, Blanche realizes that the only way she can prevent making another major mistake as a mother is to tell Rebecca that just because she is a little overweight does not mean she has to "settle" for any guy that will take her. Blanche insists that a little weight does not mean that Rebecca is not a great catch. Initially, Rebecca resents Blanche again but realizes by the end of the episode that, despite her previous mistakes, she always has her daughter's interests at heart.
Sophia, my favorite character and Dorothy's mother, is the oldest of the bunch and arguably is the one that the viewer learns from the most. Despite being the oldest character, Sophia was the one that was most ahead of her time. Sophia was the first sitcom character to endorse marriage equality in the history of television, and convinced Blanche to support her younger brother's marriage to a man. Sophia tells Dorothy that her brother wants to marry the man for the same reason Blanche married her late husband - to be with the person who made him feel happier than any other person in the world.
Keep in mind that this happened in the late 1980s, and the show was willing to risk backlash to make a pro-equality statement decades before it was cool. Sophia's motherly wisdom does not end there, she is always instrumental in bringing the girls together after a fight and also providing the most hilarious lines of the series. It is no wonder that out of all the actresses on the show, Estelle Getty received the most fan mail.
Throughout the series, the four girls are frequently in conflicts with one another, but these conflicts are always resolved. This is because they are all family, teaching us that any conflicts you have within your family will always be resolved if you are willing to listen to each other. The show teaches us that any misunderstanding can be resolved by opening you mind to what the other side has to say and that the bonds of friends and family are stronger than any negative force that may divide them.
Because of this, "The Golden Girls," despite only two of them being blood-related, is the sitcom that teaches us the most about real family values - staying together no matter what conflicts threaten to tear them apart. "The Golden Girls," teaches viewers more about what it means to be a family than any sitcom centered around a biological family.
If you have not seen the show at all, The Hallmark Channel airs episodes between 8 and 10 AM on weekdays. No matter what age you are, watch the show, and see what the world can do to be a better place.