(art by Aireen Arellano - to view larger version, click here)
SHOW: Golden Girls
EPISODE: “My Brother, My Father”
FIRST AIRED: Feb. 06, 1988
The Golden Girls has gained a new level of respect by a modern audience that did not necessarily watch the show when it first aired. The passing of venerable actresses Estelle Getty, Bea Arthur, and Rue McLanahan and the career renaissance of Betty White have cast a new light on this sitcom, which before may have been looked at as hokey nostalgia. While this might be a show you watched in the ‘80s while you were over at your grandma’s house because she loved it, it deserves a reexamination.
The Golden Girls is that, but it’s also more. Particularly in a television culture perpetually obsessed with youth, can you imagine a show where all the characters are women over 50 (or barely over 40, if you believe Blanche); a show that deals with “women’s issues” like menopause, or that devotes episodes to elder abuse, the difficulties in being divorced or widowed, living on a fixed income; a show that depicts these characters and their real concerns AND doesn’t cover up the fact that not only the young and beautiful are concerned about their sex lives? 50+ year-old women with dignity and sex drives? The Golden Girls had two decades on It’s Complicated. The show was ahead of its time.
Season Three’s “My Brother, Father” is about identity and masquerading: the characters are all deceiving someone. We all know the canonical reading of the girls: Rose (White) is the dumb one from St. Olaf, Blanche (McLanahan) is the oversexed one, Sophia (Getty) is the quintessentially feisty 80-year-old, and Dorothy (Arthur) is the sensible one who keeps the girls together. In “My Brother, My Father,” all of these familiar elements are turned upside down by deceit.