The Golden Girls’ Positive Take on Older Women and their Sexuality


Yahoo News

Estelle Getty, Beatrice Arthur, Rue McClanahan, and Betty White, the 4 main characters of The Golden Girls.

The Golden Girls is a widely beloved sitcom from the late 80s and early 90s. There always seems to be a constant stream of reruns, and it has managed to remain pretty relevant in pop culture. Its comedy, while very repetitive, really meshes well with some people. The characters all have simple, recognizable personalities, and the show is very easy to start watching with no context. Like most sitcoms, it’s made up of episodic storylines, but it managed to do a lot with its short time. For being a 35 year-old show, it had interesting commentary on social issues, touching on ageism in the workplace, the AIDS crisis, homophobia, emotional abuse, and more. 

The show also has its own brand of feminism that wasn’t really seen in the 80s, and is still rather unique today. The show emphasizes the idea that life for women doesn’t stop when they’re older—there are very few shows that focus on older women while also portraying them in a positive light. While there are jokes about their age, it always proceeds to consistently show them enjoying their lives and genuinely having fun. 

Older women are hardly ever presented as beautiful or sexy in the media, while older men are constantly praised for being attractive (such as actors like George Clooney), but the show regularly portrays the characters getting into romantic and sexual relationships. The show is far more sex-positive then many others of the time—the character of Blanche, in particular, is portrayed as being very promiscuous and open about her sex life. The Golden Girls does make jokes about Blanche’s frequent sexual relationships, but it never seriously puts her down for it. 

The four main characters on the set of The Golden Girls

It’s also important to note that three of the four characters are widows, with the fourth being divorced, and the show depicts all of them moving on and finding new relationships. Rose in particular had a long term relationship with a man named Miles that spanned over a whole season. The characters have new romantic experiences while still acknowledging their emotions toward their husbands, which is something many shows fail to do. It’s a very positive look at life: the idea that people can still find love after their partner passes away. 

One of the most important aspects of the show is the friendship between the four main characters—just look at the opening theme. Although the show has the characters in various romantic relationships, they are always secondary to their relationships with each other. The emphasis on friendship between the four women communicates that both new friendships and new romantic relationships are a part of older people’s lives. 

The Golden Girls, combated the fear that many people (especially women) have of aging, instead of the typical route of portraying one’s elderly years as being filled with regrets and AARP letters, it considers it to be an important and enjoyable stage of life. Although the show is very cheesy, it’s emphasis on having friendships and finding fulfillment as an older woman is something many shows don’t have.