Why We Need Shows That Celebrate Women Navigating Life at 50+

Picture it: America, 1985. NBC has pioneered a new form of comedy: four women who live together and comically navigate love, loss and career changes. The problem was that three of the women were 50 years old and one woman was 80 years old. For seven years, The golden girls graced television sets, making viewers laugh as Dorothy (Bea Arthur), Rose (Betty White), Blanche (Rue McClanahan) and Sophia (Estelle Getty) went about their lives.

The beloved and classic series is revolutionary in many ways. First, the cast was age-appropriate, meaning the actors playing 50s or 80s were those ages themselves, with the exception of Getty, whose makeup was done so she could look the part. look like I’m 80 years old. Second, death and dying were treated credibly for those whose social circle shrinks because of death. Finally, love, divorce, and children who are also adults are often driving forces for each character. When a show is able to tackle topics like ageism, love, and death while making people laugh, it proves that more shows like this can be just as successful. As such, here’s why we need The golden girls and other shows that celebrate women navigating life over 50.


Age-appropriate actors

Ageism is one of the most pervasive issues in Hollywood, quite frequently intersecting with other issues like racism, anti-LGBTQIA and sexism, according to The Panel. The entertainment industry’s obsession with youth often prevents shows and movies from casting age-appropriate actresses, especially if the character in question is a woman over 40. Despite claims that actors are chosen based on their age, it’s actually quite the opposite when it comes to women. Yet the most extraordinary element of The golden girls lies in the fact that the actual age of each actress is between 50 and 60 while playing characters who were in their 50s. Until The golden girlsTV shows rarely featured a female lead character, let alone four lead characters who were in their 50s, single, and divorced or widowed.

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Health issues women face at 50+

According to The Huffington Post, your 50s are tied to menopause and healthy fatty foods, your 60s to antioxidants and freedom, and your 70s to keeping your mind sharp. While the myriad of issues that women can face when they reach the age of 50 is astonishing, another remarkable aspect of The golden girls was that Sophia had suffered a stroke, losing her ability to communicate without insulting people. Again, most TV shows and movies would have an episode about risks, concerns, etc. health problems with anyone 50 and over. However, the authors and producers of The golden girls The casting actresses who face these issues in each episode made the issues they faced feel more real.

Women who persevere and accept big changes

By choosing actresses suited to their age, The golden girls is much more than a sitcom about women in their 50s navigating life, it’s a celebration of women who persevere and embrace major change. After the death of her husband, Rose Nylund decides to embrace this new chapter of life instead of staying alone at home in mourning. She becomes the first woman in her family to leave her small town in Minnesota. She left the only home she knew to live in Florida with three women she didn’t know at the ripe old age of 50! Starting over or making a change is daunting enough, but Rose is a great example of embracing change in everything from where you live to where you love. She is happy in her career as a counselor, though she decides to pursue journaling and becomes one of the station’s top reporters. One of the reasons Rose is such a beloved character is that she overcomes a lot emotionally by spending the majority of her life under cover. She is quite innocent compared to her roommates, but her innocence makes her all the more tenacious when faced with difficult situations like dating or friendships. She is often the first to reach out and fix the bridge, showing that life can be tough, but you shouldn’t give up.

Women celebrate their bodies after their youth

When a show champions a group, it’s important to show the triumphs without the tragedies they endure. For example, highlighting women in their 50s doesn’t have to focus on health, but instead can focus on celebrating your body at any age. Blanche Devereaux, the sultry owner, is the queen of indulgence. Always dressed to the nines, Blanche is the most fashionable of the quartet. Her accessories and makeup are as extravagant as a mint julep on a hot Southern afternoon. This chic Southern Belle not only opens her home to three other women, but she’s ready to fall in love with a myriad of handsome men. In one episode, Blanche discovers that she enjoys the thrill of dating multiple men at once, a scenario often reserved for men on television. Like a true Southern lady, Blanche never reveals her true age, leaving her housemates to guess without any confirmation. Another way Blanche celebrates her body is by having a cheesecake on hand, just in case she needs a late-night snack with the girls. Although his favorite indulgence is spending time with Dorothy, Rose, and Sophia.

Related: Best TV Sitcom Cast Of All Time, Ranked

How the Golden Girls deal with death

Florida in the 1980s. Four single women living together. Three women were in their fifties and without a man. One woman, the envy of the household, was in her eighties and just as lively as the others. Except when his age became a reality with the passing of a beloved friend. Although Estelle Getty was in her 60s when the series premiered, her portrayal of an 80-year-old woman was perhaps the most heartbreaking. As Dorothy, Rose, and Blanche navigated love and their aging bodies, Sophia was past that point. She was the sage of the group, offering wisdom when everyone needed it, but she was also the closest to death. Typically, sitcoms deal with death a few times and continue the story. But like The golden girls focuses on women 50 and older, the circumstances women face are often lonely due to outdated taboos, especially on television. The way death and mourning are so important in the series is staggering. The episodes where Sophia attends a funeral are no less funny. Even though Sophia’s friends die, every woman faces the uncomfortable truth that after age 50 your circle of friends may shrink due to old age or other health issues. In fact, what Sophia reminds other women every time they attend a funeral is that she hates reading the newspaper because she sees more of her friends in the obituaries than on any other page.

Divorce, financial difficulties and remarriage

As Blanche and Rose find men to devote themselves to, Dorothy is often the target of her mother’s shaming of going on dates. While each of the women has her trademark, Dorothy is smart and witty, but over everything but love and romance. Dorothy married Stan out of obligation and after decades of deception, Stan abruptly left Dorothy. But Dorothy is a fighter. She found an ad in a grocery store for a room to rent with two other women. Dorothy struggles with finances as much as she does with love, although finances are easier to manage. Another typical element of sitcoms is that teachers can often afford to live in big cities without bearing the financial burden. Yet Dorothy is a substitute teacher, paid by the day rather than by the year like a certified or licensed teacher, who lives with roommates and takes care of her mother. Several times, Dorothy mentions an allowance she pays to Sophia, who often loses money gambling. Along with her dedication to teaching despite the financial burden, Dorothy eventually finds love again. Since divorce was still considered a taboo, remarriage was even more taboo for women than for men in sitcoms. Often there is a repeat couple, which could have happened with Dorothy and Stan. Except Dorothy had moved on from her reliance on Stan and eventually remarried. Of the four women, she is the only one to remarry and the only one not to be widowed.

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