Mandy's Musings: Thank You For Being A Friend
By Mandy Bates
MM: Thank You For Being a Friend
With Betty White’s Saturday Night Live appearance approaching, I’ve been reflecting on the Golden Girls and what they’ve meant to me. I think the first time I watched Golden Girls was when I went to Florida with my grandma and cousin. Later, my cousin’s mom and brothers came down and they all went to Busch Gardens, but I had to stay behind with my grandma. It was just the two of us, and she was doing a cross-stitch or something equally quiet, so she gave me a deck of cards. I played solitaire on her glass coffee table. Yes, I cheated. Yes, I realize it’s really sad to cheat at a game you’re playing alone.
But a little while later, she turned on the TV. I really didn’t care what it was, as long as it wasn’t cards. I still think I was missing one… She turned on Golden Girls, of course. At first, I thought, “Great. Old people. Why can’t we watch Smurfs or something good?” But then Rose started telling a St. Olaf story and I thought it was pretty funny. Then Sophia bashed Dorothy for something or other, and then called Blanche a slut. I thought that was frickin’ hilarious. We ended up watching Golden Girls every remaining day of our visit. I loved sitting around the kitchen table eating cheesecake .
After I came home, I kept watching Golden Girls, but sporadically. I was young and had a hard time grasping that shows have seasons and reruns and sometimes other shows run in that time slot during off season, so I kinda lost track of them for a while. Anytime I’d find an episode on, I’d watch it, though.
Not very long ago, I decided to hook up cable in my bedroom. I would usually set the sleep timer and watch a baseball game or Lifetime movie until I fell asleep. But then an amazing thing happened: the Hallmark channel started airing Golden Girls at 11:00pm!! I was so happy. I would make sure to have all housework, homework and pet-feeding out of the way so I could be in my jammies and in bed before I heard “Thank you for being a friend” at eleven. Oddly, I recognized every single episode, although I didn’t remember watching them previously. When Bea Arthur passed away, Hallmark had a marathon that lasted forever, seemed like anyway, and I watched most of it. Of course, I couldn’t possibly sit still for that long, but I’d keep the show on while I was doing laundry and reading textbooks and such. I still didn’t come across an episode I hadn’t seen before. My son decided to see what all the laughter was about, and he ended up staying for a couple episodes. He loves Sophia; he says she’s a funny old lady. And he asks, is Rose really that dumb?
Now, being a child in the 80’s, I really have no clue what was socially acceptable and what was taboo back then, but I had my own spin on it. The Golden Girls exposed me to a lot of things that I was blind to before. For instance, I grew up in a small mostly white town, so when Dorothy’s son Michael married Lorraine, who was black, I thought that wasn’t normal (but not wrong, mind you), but I appreciated how the race difference was merely mentioned but not a focus. The way they handled it showed me that it was okay. They did, however, have an issue with the age difference, and maybe that’s why I have a problem with Ashton and Demi. They reacted very similar to Blanche’s brother being gay. Blanche had a hard time accepting it at first, but no one else thought it was a big deal. For the most part, Golden Girls was a comedy that entertained me and made me laugh, but it also taught me a lot about what was happening outside my little city. I think it’s due to Golden Girls (and probably a little bit of Sesame Street) that I am so open-minded towards people who aren’t like me. They taught me acceptance, although the politically correct word is “tolerance.” I hate that word, but that’s a topic for another rant…. Sophia, Dorothy, Rose and Blanche helped shape me into the person I am today. And for that, I must say to them, thank you for being a friend.