The Golden Girls: The Complete Third Season

It's easy to dismiss The Golden Girls as pop culture junk. After all, sitcoms in 1987 usually solved problems in approximately 19 minutes; you could set your watch to the big sentimental hug that occurred just before the credits rolled. The Golden Girls is a quick dramatic hit, and like all quick hits it's highly addictive. At the centre of this long-running successful comedy are three distinct personalities destined not to get along when reduced to type: the slut (Blanche), the idiot (Rose) and the sarcastic "know it all" (Dorothy). The fireworks occur when the sniping starts, usually because of Rose's stupidity or Blanche's sexual bravado. Dorothy can't help herself; she brings them back to earth with a single barbed word or phrase. It's these sardonic moments that help offset the sentimental treacle that sometimes slows the story. So it could be considered ironic that The Golden Girls helped highlight intolerance toward the end of Reagan's reign in America. This is, after all, the show that portrayed a gay character with suave masculinity and a lesbian as having a fragile crush; minorities were presented as human beings rather than raging stereotypes. In the third season, Dorothy's son decides to marry a black woman over 20 years his senior. Dorothy is worried about the age difference, while her prospective in-laws don't want a "skinny white boy" in the family. Narrative balance is struck when both sides are shown to have prejudice. It's worth wading through the sap to get to the funny moments, especially when Dorothy spouts lines like, "You're a pig in a suit." From the third season on, you can see the actresses settling into their roles and getting bigger laughs. The Golden Girls is worth a look. (Buena Vista)