7 Things We Can Learn From 'The Golden Girls'

Dorothy and the Girls have a lot more to offer than silky '80s fashions and clever comebacks.
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You might wonder, “What does a TV show that ended 24 years ago have to do with me, now?” Well, apart from the prominent shoulder pads and dowdy nightgowns, “The Golden Girls” sitcom is timeless, as are its lessons. And if you’re lucky enough to catch a rerun of this Emmy- and Golden Globe-award winning sitcom on TV Land or the Hallmark Channel, you might be surprised at how spot-on the ladies’ advice was about life, love, and friendship. Cast your mind back to roommates Dorothy Zbornak (Bea Arthur), Rose Nylund (Betty White), Blanche Devereaux (Rue McClanahan), and Sophia Petrillo (Estelle Getty), and consider the following words of wisdom.

#1: Sarcasm is the highest form of humor.

Mere insults lack imagination. Dorothy Zbornak elevated the incredulous sarcastic retort to an art form, proving that dumb questions are truly God’s gift to comedy. 

Exhibit A:
[Rose sits dejectedly out on the lanai. Blanche and Dorothy approach.]
Dorothy: Honey, are you alright?
Rose: I’m fine.
Blanche: Is this about Arnie?
Dorothy: No Blanche, she’s upset because they keep changing the taste of Coke.

Exhibit B:
[Blanche and Dorothy greet Rose as they enter the kitchen, carrying a pizza box.]
Dorothy: Hi, Rose.
Blanche: We brought dinner!
Rose: What’d you get?
Dorothy: A bucket of chicken... I hope you like it extra flat and crispy.

#2: No topic is too taboo for true friends.

Homosexuality. HIV and AIDS. Safe sex. Artificial insemination. Aging. The feisty ladies from Miami knew how to tackle hot-button issues before everyone else was doing it. If ever you’re faced with something that makes you uncomfortable, just remember: Pushing the envelope with taboo topics merely requires openness and honesty, delivered with a healthy dose of good humor. 

#3: Cheesecake solves everything!

Everyone knows, the worst way to handle anxiety is by yourself on an empty stomach. Whenever they were too upset to sleep, the Golden Girls always turned to their fail-safe fix: conversation and a slice or four of cheesecake. So if you ever hear these words coming from a friend or loved one: “I’m so upset, I don’t know what to do!” Don’t panic—or hesitate: Go straight to the fridge, and say, “Let me get the cheesecake, and we’ll talk.” 

#4: The best stories start with “When I was a girl in St. Olaf…”

Followed closely by, “Picture it: Sicily, 1922…”

Whether they’re laced with bittersweet nostalgia or veiled criticism, stories about other people’s childhood can offer valuable lessons if you listen closely. For example, when Dorothy and Blanche were in a terrible fight, Rose asked Sophia how she could get the two friends back together. In response, Sophia spun her a tale of a traveling pepperoni salesman who drove an irreparable wedge between her and her ex-friend... Mama Celeste. When Rose questioned Sophia about the point of her story, Sophia replied, “Nothing! I told ya, stay out of it.” Rose asked for advice, and Sophia delivered—the colorful coating just made it go down easier.

#5: Age doesn’t dull a dirty mind, it only refines it.

We know you know this already, but it bears repeating: Sex drive has nothing to do with age. Blanche, the Golden Girls’ resident hot tamale, made no bones about the many loves she’d had, the loves she was currently enjoying, and the loves she planned to land in the future. As she waxed poetic about one of her affairs, the subtext was clear: No woman should feel embarrassed about her needs—and the many men who want to satisfy them.

#6: Never enter a dance contest against Rose Nylund.

Which could also be interpreted as, “Never judge a book by its cover.”

Rose may have acted naive and goofy around the condo, but the Girls learned she’s a tiger on the dance floor, when she entered a dance-a-thon contest with Blanche. The moral of the story is, even if you’ve known someone for years, she can still surprise you, as long as you give her the opportunity.

#7: The longer the jacket, the wiser the woman.

And everybody knows, sharp-tongued Dorothy wore the longest jackets of all. 

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