I recently undertook a complete rewatch of all 7 seasons of The Golden Girls, the classic American sitcom starring four women “of a certain age” who refused to go gently into the dark night of old age irrelevancy. The show broke boundaries with its portrayal of a demographic that seldom gets much attention, either on television or in real life. It was a favorite of mine and my mom’s when I was growing up, and I was delighted to find the humor (though dated in some of its cultural references) was still genuinely funny.
With the series so fresh in my mind, I very much enjoyed Golden Girls Forever: An Unauthorized Look Behind the Lanai (HarperCollins, 2016) by Jim Colucci. The first part details the development of the show, and shooting of the pilot episode. It analyzes what made the show such a touchstone for so many people. Most of this was new information to me, and very interesting to someone who loves behind-the-scenes logistics.
The hefty middle section provides summaries of individual episodes, combined with photos and reminiscences from cast and crew members and guest stars. It’s not every episode, but it’s a lot of them. I think this part would have been much less enjoyable if I hadn’t just refreshed my memory with the rewatch, but I liked reading about what was happening offstage and what people involved with the show thought about each episode.
The last section delves into the actual production details, especially the set design. I was relieved to read that the layout of the Girls’ house doesn’t really make sense if you think too hard about it — I could never figure out how all the pieces fit together. That’s especially true for the kitchen, which was a last-minute addition and doesn’t fit with the rest of the set, and yet turned out to be maybe the most important set, given all the discussion over cheesecake that occurred there.
There’s also a section that details the ways that the show has inspired more modern television sitcoms, and includes short blurbs from all sorts of entertainment folks about what the show means to them and which Golden Girl they think best embodies their own persona. This was pretty meh, especially because I wasn’t familiar with the majority of the people being quoted.
Given my recent re-acquaintance with the show, I’m glad I was able to read this. I don’t think I’d recommend to anyone who either wasn’t a big fan of the show or who hasn’t watched it in the last decade or so. It isn’t earth-shattering, but it’s a nice read for what it is.