You know that “gimme five” moment when you see or hear something that speaks to you, to your ideals, your political persuasion—to your beliefs? Well I can get along with most anybody, but I freely admit to a warm and fuzzy feeling when someone of like mind openly shares a tree-embracing sentiment or a good old-fashioned freethinking liberal viewpoint. Certainly bumper stickers aren’t for everyone, regardless of political position; but I sure enjoy traffic better when cruising behind a fellow pinko-liberal. Until, like a splash of battery acid, I see “Blow up your TV”.
This is a bumper sticker that goes back decades, and it is most always in the company of many decals expressing views and ideals that I hold near and dear and, therefore, never ceases to catch me off guard. Well, of course they have a right to express their intellectual decision to exclude television from their lives, but hey…it hurts. It’s like watching reels and reels of PBS burned. Like seeing Rod Serling kicked to the curb as Jackie Gleason and Carol Burnett rush over to save him, only to be taken out by a Mack truck (with that bumper sticker). If left to these misguided folks, Saturday morning cartoons would be history (the only day of the week that parents have to sleep in and hanky panky a bit). I cannot imagine my childhood Sunday nights without the Wonderful World of Disney and Bonanza. And being an after-school-hours latch-key kid, unaware that that time alone was meant for getting into mischief, I kinda felt lost waiting for Mom to get home from work—so Hazel kept me company as she fussed over her TV family, the Baxters. Hazel (Shirley Booth), with her huggable stoutness, housekeeping uniform, big smile and gregarious manner made me feel safe. Come on, you don’t dis Hazel.
Through the years, I have watched television influence (if not change) social mores. All in the Family brought African-Americans into the living rooms of folks who’d never think of integrating their own lives. This provocative show used humor as a means to enlighten, through entertainment, an entire generation. Will and Grace brought gay gaiety to households everywhere and perhaps diluted some viewer’s prejudices. It is difficult to hate or fear someone who is making you laugh. Blow up that television? I think not!
Boyfriend and I are blessed with many friends who mean the world to us. But there are only four that are always there for us, able to pop in at any time to commiserate, cheer and commune, and without minding one bit if we are in pajamas, having bad hair, bad moods, bad attitudes. Our house can be a mess and they do not judge. They are our friends: Rose, Dorothy, Blanche and Sophia, and they are golden.
In 1985, Susan Harris gathered four talented actresses, created and gave them each a distinct personality and character, and allowed them to slip into our homes via television. They were The Golden Girls; in fact, they are still golden and their personalities and attitudes ring true to this day (thanks to the wonderful world of reruns). Thirty-one years have passed since they first entered my living room with their pastel, polyester-blended, padded shouldered dresses and overly coiffed hair. As a matter of fact, they all got slightly younger-looking as the seven years of air time played forth. But looks are so minor compared to their characters.
Beatrice Arthur played Dorothy, the more centered and pragmatic of the gang. She was the straight man to the others. Without her somewhat “bitchy resting face”, height and comedic control, the others wouldn’t bounce off her with such delightful pop. Her mother, Sophia, wonderfully acted by Estelle Getty, is this tiny little old lady with no filter—she blurts out bluntly what’s on her mind and weaves stories of her past and Sicilian homeland that are beyond the pale. Her tales are only to be outdone by Betty White, better known as Rose Nylund of St. Olaf. Her “Rose” is perhaps the best mix of traits in the whole bunch. Betty White, a national treasure, brought to Rose an air-headedness that vacillates between delusional ditsy to (albeit rare) moments of naïve brilliance. Rue McClanahan’s Blanche is Southern to the point of parody and one of the most delightful tarts (slut as Rose and Sophia point out repeatedly), and gives cred to “Yes!!!! There is sex and lots of it after 50.”
When Boyfriend gifted me a photograph of The Golden Girls, framed and autographed by all four ladies, I was thrilled and then mortified when he proudly hung it in our shop. I thought our funky cool rating would plummet—wrong! The first time a young, hip, macho-looking black man came in and told me that he “loved him some Golden Girls”, and asked if he could buy the photo, I realized that these ladies were timeless and priceless gems. And I certainly never sold it to any of the many young and old fans who offered me money. Hell, they are my friends—you can’t sell ‘em.
It is essential to escape from life’s stresses and disappointments. You cannot avoid them, but you can damn sure take a short reprieve with, in lieu of heroin, an episode of intelligent humor, happy endings and a fat slice of cheesecake.
Fact: Did you know that if you eat cheesecake at the same time the Golden Girls are dishin’ the dirt and slicing up servings of their own cheesecake, that it is impossible to gain a single ounce? Yes, TV Land is a magical place.