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Archive for March 18th, 2018

by Adam Ferenz

Another series about friendship, this is also about aging, maturity, loneliness and love. The sequel series, “The Golden Palace” about three of the “Girls” taking over a failing hotel, was about a new type of family, and making new beginnings late in life, something the original had as an unspoken theme and which was not as well followed through in the new series as it might have become had it not been unceremoniously dumped by the network. What stands is an eight season, 204 episode story of life after fifty-five. It seems silly, but it is important. Life doesn’t end when you hit the half century mark. In many ways, it is only beginning. But this is going to focus on the original and best iteration of these characters.

The four women the series tells the story of form a family, of sorts, and become each other’s closest friends, sharing in the pain and joy of aging and life. Dismissed by lesser lights as a smutty joke factory, the series was a sharp critique of male dominance, as women were clearly in charge. Even the sexually volcanic, near-addicted Blanche, who wore her heart on her sleeve, was no pushover. These were adults, independent people who answered only to themselves and, when appropriate, their partners. It was a new kind of feminism, about enduring and changing to become more than how you had long defined yourself.

It was nothing short of revolutionary. It was also touching, funny and, more often than not, exceedingly entertaining. Each of the characters is easily identifiable, flawed and thus humanly complex. The humor came from many sources-frustration, misunderstanding, jealousy, among others-all seen through a lens of age, and, importantly, a woman’s point of view. This was a feminist show in a way that something like Glee, or Buffy, fails to be. Where those shows have characters run around screaming their demands, their desires and how put upon they are, this show instead allows the viewers to watch these women confront and overcome their odds without resorting to childish bullying or whining.

“But, the women were all interested in landing men! How can that be feminist?”

That is not what the show was about. It was about four people, all women, being free to determine the course of their lives, and achieving it, without men telling them they would fail because they are women. Were each a type? Sure. This was a show that came out of the 70s mold, when series like All in the Family and MASH, or Mary Tyler Moore and Bob Newhart, changed the way sitcoms could be. These shows lead to others, like Barney Miller, WKRP In Cincinnati, Cheers (which debuted in 1982) and Taxi. And it was as part of this 70s and early 80s evolution of comedy that The Golden Girls, began in 1985, appeared. It had the brains and the heart, but it also had something else. It was feminist without trying to prove it, something Murphy Brown, which came along a few years later, would struggle with at times. (more…)

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