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Old 02-19-2017, 04:00 AM   #1
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Default The Golden Girls Proved Its Fearlessness Yet Again When It Tackled the AIDS Epidemic

http://www.vulture.com/2017/02/the-g...k-excerpt.html

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When The Golden Girls debuted earlier this week on Hulu, scores of fans — most of us no doubt wearied by the constant worrying news out of Washington — turned to the streaming service in search of some comforting, familiar slut jokes and St. Olaf stories.

Even after having studied the show for a decade while writing my book, Golden Girls Forever, I still couldn’t resist some fresh viewings, as well. And once I tuned in, I was reminded of one of the things that had first made me want to invest so much time in heralding these four ladies from Miami; they were brilliantly, and sometimes even eerily, ahead of their time.

The Girls consistently tackled taboo subjects and found a way to make them funny. How the show accomplished the humor is now obvious; The Golden Girls was created by the legendary Susan Harris, and spawned the writing careers of so many of today’s TV comedy giants, including Desperate Housewives’ Marc Cherry, Arrested Development’s Mitchell Hurwitz and Modern Family’s Christopher Lloyd. But why did the show take somewhat of a risk in talking about sensitive topics?

The answer, as I learned from these writers and producers and three of the show’s brilliant stars, Bea Arthur, Betty White, and Rue McClanahan, was that the Girls were beloved not just for the barbs they’d trade, the outfits they’d work or the cheesecakes they’d share. These were four strong women who had lived through both the toughest and most rewarding parts of anyone’s life: having babies, struggling to stay afloat, losing husbands. Along the way, they’d gained not just wisdom, but also license with a TV audience to deliver shocking truths that a 30-something character couldn’t get away with saying on any other sitcom. And so, perhaps even a little bit selfishly, the Golden Girls writers realized early on that their show could have certain subject areas all to themselves.

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In 22-minute increments over the course of seven seasons, the Girls raised issues of sexism and age discrimination as they faced off with chauvinistic plumbers, skeptical bosses and doubting doctors. They highlighted the plight of the homeless, and of elders like Sophia’s friend Lillian, receiving substandard and underfunded nursing-home care. They received their LGBT friends and relatives with open arms … well eventually, in the case of Blanche and her baby brother Clayton. When Sophia’s friend Martha wanted to end her life, they agonized over euthanasia; as Dorothy’s prized pupil faced deportation, they raised issues about our policies on immigration. And when Rose received a letter saying that she might have been exposed to the HIV virus, The Golden Girls capitalized on its political license once again, becoming one of the first sitcoms to mention HIV and AIDS at all, and further to suggest that the epidemic was a problem for everyone, not just the gay community.

In the Golden Girls Forever excerpt below, about the fifth-season episode “72 Hours,” writers Tracy Gamble and Richard Vaczy, stars Betty White and Rue McClanahan, and other members of the show’s crew talk about the making of the historic episode — one of the first, following an episode of CBS’ Designing Women, to bring humanity to the AIDS epidemic, and to bring that crisis to our attention in our living rooms.
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Old 02-19-2017, 07:06 AM   #2
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TV is about getting enough eyeballs pointed toward the screen to make a profit and get renewed. Again, there's simply no evidence that the people who make TV have social insights that are of any more interest than the insights of the next 50 random people you might run across.
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Old 02-19-2017, 03:09 PM   #3
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If they would have promoted a cause that wasn't on the liberal agenda, that would have been fearless. Otherwise it's just the usual Hollywood left-wing propaganda.
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Old 02-19-2017, 03:35 PM   #4
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The Golden Girls' AIDS episode was an example of "special episode" syndrome. The Designing Women episode was more fearless because in the end Kendall Dobbs (Tony Goldwyn) was still dying of AIDS. He didn't get a phone call or a letter letting him off the hook. I like The Golden Girls, but I don't think people should retroactively build it up to be some beacon of social justice to fit their own agendas.
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Old 02-23-2017, 05:57 PM   #5
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I never took those episodes to mean that the Golden Girls were uber-liberals, although at least Bea Arthur certainly was one. Those were absolutely situations that could happen to anyone, and if nothing else, if the way the stories were portrayed were even halfway accurate, they could help the viewer figure out what to do in the event that ever happened to them.
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Old 02-23-2017, 07:08 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schmave
I never took those episodes to mean that the Golden Girls were uber-liberals, although at least Bea Arthur certainly was one. Those were absolutely situations that could happen to anyone, and if nothing else, if the way the stories were portrayed were even halfway accurate, they could help the viewer figure out what to do in the event that ever happened to them.

I agree, though some people on here try to find a way to turn almost everything into a negative political post about views they don't agree with. It must be really depressing to have such a dark view on virtually everything.
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Old 02-24-2017, 05:47 PM   #7
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I agree with both of you, schmave and Huntington.

Portraying gay people as deserving respect regardless of whether you agree with their lifestyle; educating yourself on what HIV actually is; agonizing over how to deal with a friend who is contemplating suicide; encouraging a woman to stand up for herself when she's obviously being discriminated against in the workplace. To me, these episodes just reflect being good, decent human beings. Not necessarily being "uber-liberal."

And although I happen to be a Christian myself, I liked how they frequently revealed Sophia as the colossal hypocrite she was. Telling others that one little lie will "send you straight to Hell" all the while stealing on a regular basis, lying to her daughter on a regular basis, burning Rose's mouth with hot food because she enjoyed inflicting pain on people, sleeping with men while berating her daughter for doing the same, and making countless mean remarks to the people she lived with. This is why in real life, Sophia Petrillo would NOT be a friend of mine.
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Old 02-24-2017, 06:43 PM   #8
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Good for them!
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Old 02-24-2017, 10:07 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gidgetgrape
The Golden Girls' AIDS episode was an example of "special episode" syndrome. The Designing Women episode was more fearless because in the end Kendall Dobbs (Tony Goldwyn) was still dying of AIDS. He didn't get a phone call or a letter letting him off the hook. I like The Golden Girls, but I don't think people should retroactively build it up to be some beacon of social justice to fit their own agendas.
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Old 02-25-2017, 01:15 PM   #10
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Well you can "yeah that" all you want, tlc.

But the fact is, there's nothing "retroactive" about people noticing social awareness in some of the Golden Girls episodes. They have no "agendas."

It was intentional then, it was purposeful then, and those messages still ring true today. That's all we mean. And why would discussing these issues during an episode be any more "fearless" just because one character died from AIDS, and another just had a scare?
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