sunset for a golden girl

It saddened me  to learn of Rue McClanahan’s death a few days ago. I grew up watching TV sitcoms in the ’80s and their sitcom GOLDEN GIRLS was one of my favorites.

Farewell Blanche Devereaux. Photo from the New York Daily News

I don’t know, but something resonated with me as I watched these four “old” ladies in their quirky lives as they shared a retirement home in USA’s sunny Miami. You have Bea Arthur’s Dorothy character who was a no-nonsense retired schoolteacher, whose sturdy logic was always tested by her three other housemates, one of which was her Sicilian-descended US immigrant mother Sophia played by Estelle Getty, who’s actually older than Arthur in real life (gotta love those prosthetic make-up artists!). Then there’s their seemingly “naive” friend Rose who hails from a Slavic town somewhere on earth, played magnificently by Betty White. Then there’s Blanche, the Southern belle bombshell who’s still working it in her golden years, played expertly by the theater-trained Rue.

When I was in the U.S. last March-April, I loved watching the reruns of the show on cable. To think that I was just 12-19 years old when the whole run of the show was on air. Now that I just turned 37, I couldn’t believe how relevant the show’s issues are to me now, and to the women of the world, I should say.

One particular episode I caught on the reruns was the one where Blanche was dating this impatient macho guy whose behavior already bordered on being verbally abusive. The guy would always make fun of Blanche as a second-rate person just because she is a woman, and all that. Dorothy could see it a mile away but lovelorn Blanche couldn’t, until she caught this macho guy holding Dorothy’s arm when Dorothy tried to have a word with him about his abusive behavior towards Blanche, which led to a heated argument, with the guy almost hurting Dorothy. Oh my goddess, can you say “domestic violence” or abuse of women in intimate relationships?”  Issues that were so NGO ’90s and so civil society 2000s were being discussed on mainstream TV when I was barely legal! But the sad part is, some things never changed…

Who could forget the opening line of its theme song? "Thank you for being a friend/ traveled down the road and back again/ your heart is true / you're a pal and a confidante..." Grabe memorized ko pa!

A friend also pointed out to me another episode, where Blanche was reacting quite negatively to her brother’s marriage…to another man. It turned out that her brother was gay and everybody was trying to be supportive of the brother, except for her own sister. I guess for as long as there are brothers and sisters who deviate from what society dictates about normative sexualities, this episode will be repeated over and over in other TV shows.

Wow, this is so sad. Now only one of the Golden Girls remain — Rose, the naive one. In the US, I also saw a resurgence in Betty White’s showbiz career as she guested in different late-night talk shows promoting some film or some TV show where she’s cast, and then there’s this cute TV commercial where she gets tackled in a football field. Basta, search it on youtube, I’m sure it’s there.

What saddens me more is the reality that Golden Girls do have to face their sunsets eventually. I am sad about this fact because we in the Linsangan family have named our mothers and titas our “Golden Girls” patterned after this show. My mother, the second to the youngest of seven children, has five other sisters and one brother who went to seek out his own sunset before this show even got on the air. Of the six girls, one of the three older ones went ahead of the rest a few years ago while the rest of our Golden Girls are still ready and eager to wait for the arrival of more apo sa tuhod kids from the later generations. It’s just sad to equate this family thing with the original Golden Girl’s death, is all. But that’s just me.

photo from the LA Times

Here’s to the girls — to all golden girls out there. May you remain golden, may your legacy shine for all eternity.


~ by leaflens on June 6, 2010.

One Response to “sunset for a golden girl”

  1. sunset for a golden girl…

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

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