When I was about 11-years-old, The Golden Girls began airing on NBC, and it quickly became my favorite television show of all time. I have always marveled at The Golden Girls' universal appeal; as it airs today in endless reruns on the Lifetime channel, it continues to draw legions of new fans. I found proof of this when earlier this year I found my 31-year-old self pitted in a heated battle against a 19-year-old during "Golden Girls Trivia" on an Alaskan cruise. I won, by the way, but just barely – the 19-year-old really gave me a run for my money!
The premise of this show is quite unique: four women, including one innocent, one promiscuous, one professional, and the other full of sarcastic quips, gather regularly to dissect their lives and the opposite sex. No, it's not Sex and the City, my friends, for that didn't appear on the scene until over a decade later. The premise of The Golden Girls remains a standout because of the fact that it emphasized the fact that women over 50 could be fun, fabulous, and enjoy (gasp!) their sexual freedom. The four friends, dopey Rose, caustic Dorothy, sexy Blanche, and loud-mouthed Sophia (who is Dorothy's elderly mother), share Blanche's house in Miami. It is always interesting to experience a season of a television show on DVD; watching it in reruns on television, one is subject to the whims of the network, which does not always air episodes in order and chops them up in order to fit in more commercials. Season Four contains some of the series' most beloved episodes.
Standout episodes this season include "Rites of Spring," where the girls remember past efforts at self-improvement; be sure to watch for Dorothy and Blanche in sequined workout gear. Sophia gets married to her husband's ex business partner in "Sophia's Wedding," a two-parter that ends on a bittersweet note. Blanche has a turn in the spotlight in "Blind Date," where she dates a blind man, and "The One That Got Away," where she sees that time has not been kind to an old flame. Also be sure to check out "Foreign Exchange," more so for the sub plot where Blanche and Rose take a dirty dancing class; the scene where they dance in the living room is worth a big laugh every time.
One particularly absurd episode this season is "High Anxiety," where it is revealed that Rose has had an addiction to prescription medication for the better part of 30 years. When she runs out of pills and begins behaving erratically, the roommates become aware of the problem and band together to help her. This one is reminiscent of the episode where Dorothy's gambling addiction comes to light. It is obviously a "message" episode, but it is difficult to believe that Rose has had an addiction for 30 years and it is dealt with in one episode.
Another head-scratcher is "Brother Can You Spare that Jacket?" where the girls spend the night in a homeless shelter after accidentally giving away a jacket that holds a winning lottery ticket. Clearly, it is also a message episode, but it is rather heavy-handed in its execution, despite the fact that it is beautifully acted, as always. Sophia invests in a prizefighter who wants to be an actor in "Fiddler on the Ropes,"
One of my all-time favorite episodes of any season is "The Days and Nights of Sophia Petrillo." It could also easily be entitled "The Nectarine." Blanche, Rose, and Dorothy sit around one lazy day in their bathrobes, pitying Sophia and her seemingly empty life. All she appears to do is to go out every day to buy a nectarine. Little do they know she's standing up for senior citizens' rights at the grocery store, leading a boardwalk band to raise money for charity, and volunteering at the local hospital. In fact, it is the other three roommates who are the ones who do nothing in this episode! This one is evidentiary of the excellent writing and engrossing plots that were a hallmark of this series.
Another episode that deserves accolades is "Scared Straight," when Blanche's brother admits he is gay. Although the episode is comedic and fun, there is a serious undertone to the plot. Blanche is in deep denial about Clayton's sexuality, and Clayton is justifiably angry at his sister's inability to accept him for who he is. This marks yet another time The Golden Girls dealt honestly and realistically with the topic of homosexuality; remember the one where Dorothy's visiting girlfriend falls in love with Rose?
The season finale is the two-part "We're Outta Here," where an offer to sell the house prompts remembrances in the form of flashbacks to previous episodes, including the one where the roommates first moved in together, the absolutely hysterical dance marathon where all three get to strut their stuff on the dance floor (be sure to look for the obvious double for Rose during the dance solo), the episode when Blanche's promiscuous niece visits, and the one where Rose's cousin Sven visits and decides he is in love with Blanche.