Nov 4, 2015

The Golden Girls in West Hollywood

Since I don't drink, bars don't have much of an attraction.  But in the late 1980s, when I lived in West Hollywood,  Saturday night meant picking up tangerine chicken to eat while watching Throb, Mama's Family and The Golden Girls, then heading out to Mugi, the Gold Coast, or the Faultline.

The Golden Girls theme song "Thank You for Being a Friend" still brings back memories of those Saturday nights of lights and music, checking out the musclemen, searching for Mr. Right (or Mr. Right Now), and schmoozing with friends.

It featured four senior citizens who live together in an affluent small-town Miami: former Southern Belle Blanche (Rue McClanihan), dimwitted Rose (Betty White), sensible Dorothy (Bea Arthur), and sarcastic Sophia (Estelle Getty).

The Girls were all played by gay-friendly actresses; Bea Arthur often spoke out against homophobia, and Betty White is a tireless supporter of gay marriage.  But the show itself was less tolerant:
1. Blanche is shocked to discover that her brother is "a homo."
2. Blanche cannot restrain her disgust at a feminine caterer.
3. A female visitor develops a crush on Rose, who has no idea what lesbians are.  When she finds out, she is shocked.

There was little beefcake.  Though the Girls were sexually voracious -- jokes mostly involved sex -- the men they slept with were older, and fully clothed.

Occasionally there was a hot guest star for the gay teens, such as as Mario Lopez (later photo) as one of Dorothy's students, Scott Jacoby as Dorothy's son, or Billy Jacoby (below) as Blanche's grandson.

Why, then, was it a gay favorite?

The recurring scene where the Girls sit around their kitchen table, eating cheesecake and schmoozing.

The men in their lives came and went, but their same-sex friendship was eternal.

Like the subtext songs of the 1980s, an image of connection, of the families you build for yourself.

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