Born on the cusp of a new era (December 1977 to be exact), I wasn't yet eight years old when The Golden Girls premiered on NBC in September 1985. I can't even remember now if I was actually allowed to stay up late enough during those early seasons for the very adult time slot of 9 p.m. on Saturday nights, despite my lucite-like memories.
What I can recall is feeling very grown-up, being allowed to stay awake well past bedtime, settling into the couch with my parents, and watching a program where most of the jokes escaped my comprehension – given the double entendres, coupled with historical, political, sexual, and pop culture references. I always knew I was missing something and that it had everything to do with my youth; still, I felt privileged in some way… special, unique.
I watched all seven seasons, right up to the final episode on in may of 1992, when I mourned its fade out into television history with everyone else. Saturday nights would never be the same.
Sometime around the mid-to-late nineties, Lifetime Television — or as it's more commonly known, The Battered Women's Network — began airing The Golden Girls reruns and I rekindled my friendships with Blanche, Dorothy, Rose, and Sophia. People of my — and subsequent — generation(s), who missed the show during its first go 'round, have discovered and fallen in love with the ladies of gold in syndication. Imagine my glee upon learning about the release of the entire series on DVD!
What accounts for the show's enduring and widespread appeal? Or the fact that so many people of various ages relate to an American sitcom focusing on the lives of four female senior citizens – two groups that are largely marginalized in the Western world. It's difficult for me to speak for anyone but myself, so I will confine my assessment to personal opinion.
As a child, The Golden Girls gave me something to look forward to: literally in the sense that I'd eagerly anticipate the arrival of Saturday nights and each new episode, figuratively I caught a glimpse of the "adult" world and all the freedoms and drawbacks it had to offer.
With age, my knowledge and awareness grew; I've come to appreciate the intricacies of humor and subtle performances given by the actors, how laughter can be found in tragedy and vice versa. I guess when you boil the show down to its core, it's truly about the fundamentals: love, laughter, family, friends, heartbreak, and solace. In the end The Golden Girls is a showcase of "life" and (almost) anyone can relate to that.