29 July 2003 | tfrizzell
The Original "Sex and the City".
NBC was already a monster by 1985 thanks to programs like "The Cosby Show", "Cheers" and "L.A. Law" (all part of that unbeatable Thursday lineup). In 1985 it appeared that Beatrice Arthur (who struck gold with "Maude", a spin-off of "All in the Family") was going back to television in a new show called "The Golden Girls". Along with Arthur (a smart-mouthed Brooklyn native) was her old-world Sicilian mother (Estelle Getty), a bubble-headed Minnesota native (Betty White) and a sex-crazed belle from Georgia (Rue McClanahan). This quartet of actresses would create the finest core of performers to ever star in a television series. "The Golden Girls", unlike "Cheers", was a hit from its first episode. It dominated with vigor and spunk on Saturday nights. NBC was worried that the show would never find an audience big enough to make a dent in the ratings, but for a time "The Golden Girls" was as excellent as anything else the networks had to offer. The four women, all obviously over 50, lived, laughed and cried together in Miami for nearly a decade from 1985 to 1992. The series pushed the envelope on everything that dominated headlines during its run (AIDS, homosexuality, sexism, ageism, political unrest, abortion and an endless list of other topics too long to go into at length). The episodes went for comedy, but usually almost always had a deep meaning to them about love and friendship. All four actresses shared the spotlight equally for the most part. Arthur and McClanahan had hit gold with "Maude" and White had been along seemingly at the advent of television programming. Getty was relatively unknown, but fit in well with more-established performers immediately (her character got away with more than the others as she was written as a lady who had suffered a major stroke which affected the relationship between what she said and thought). Herb Edelman (who made a name for himself in "The Odd Couple") was always a consistent element as Arthur's two-timing ex-husband and Harold Gould (who was a key player in "The Sting") also became a fixture during the series' latter episodes as White's love interest. Like all good things though, "The Golden Girls" began to slowly lose their edge and appeal by the early-1990s. Time slot changes and constant contract re-negotiations ended the series far too early. Arthur's want to leave the show by 1992 would ultimately kill the program. CBS attempted to bring the other three back with "The Golden Palace", but that series never found its legs without Arthur. 5 stars out of 5.