It’s been a busy news week, and I’m sure a lot of things are going through your mind: the oil spill, Israel’s attack on a flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza…or maybe you’re just wondering when the hell Sarah Palin’s fifteen minutes of fame will finally end.
But even in the midst of national and international tragedy, you surely noticed the passing of Rue McClanahan, “The Golden Girls” saucy Southern Belle, Blanche Devereaux. Although I don’t catch the show in syndication often now, it was a childhood favorite. I was a quirky kid, preferring the company of older children and adults to people my age, and “The Golden Girls,” “The Bob Newhart Show” and “Murder She Wrote” to cartoons. While other twentysomethings might rattle off the names of the characters on “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” I can tell you all about Rose, Sophia, Dorothy and Blanche.
Long before the radically “feminist” “Sex and the City” gave us Samantha Jones, America watched “The Golden Girls” — a show about women who were friends rather than competitors or petty backstabbers. Most significantly, from 1985-1992, during the very conservative Reagan and Bush the First years, people watched a show about women who had full, rich lives — including active sex lives — after menopause and marriage. (The cultural relevance of all this likely eluded me at age eight.)
Things haven’t changed much in Hollywood and television. Leading men are paired with actresses twenty years their junior and, on TV, overweight guys are married to slim, conventionally attractive women.s
At least we’ll always have “The Golden Girls.” Rest in Peace, Rue, and thank you for being my friend.