The Golden Girls is 35 years old this year, but love for the classic US sitcom about four older women living in Miami has never dimmed. In fact, its cult status is on the rise. Despite having been primetime Friday-night viewing for seven years, The Golden Girls does not currently have the binge-watching availability of, say, Friends, because it is not available on streaming platforms such as Netflix (although you can buy past series on iTunes and Amazon).
Instead, the current influx of fans get their fix via Instagram, where Golden Girls has been hash-tagged more than 600,000 times on accounts such as Golden Girls Daily and Golden Girls Love, which are approaching 50,000 followers each. Some episodes have been uploaded to YouTube, and the revival took a further step into the mainstream when Golden Girls backgrounds were recently made available for the video conferencing app Zoom.
You can also buy Golden Girls-themed everything, from Monopoly, Cluedo and Trivial Pursuit, to Pez dispensers, action figures and even breakfast cereal. There are 11,000 Golden Girls products available on Redbubble.com alone. In 2016, Ryan Reynolds paid $10,000 to the estate of Bea Arthur to wear the actor’s likeness on a vest in the Deadpool movie, and the ladies have shown up in modern children’s cartoons, including Teen Titans GO! (“That ring can manifest any weapon imaginable and you choose The Golden Girls?”) and The Amazing World of Gumball.
In uncertain times there is something comforting about The Golden Girls. Of course, at times it is hideously dated and it’s fuzzy as hell, but the jokes are surprisingly fresh, the politics progressive and, bear with me here, the fashion is actually more wearable than you might imagine. Check out some enduring trends showcased by each of Miami’s feistiest citizens.
Southern belle Blanche was the good time Girl. She craved attention and she sure got it, with a wardrobe of custom gowns, pant suits and nightwear – well, she did spend a lot of time in bed. Blanche knew that a well-cut blazer could pull any look together, and that shoulder pads had a way of balancing things out – which is just as well, with hair so teased and bouffed. As the youngest of the group, the museum assistant was comfortable in casual looks, wearing jeans and giving sportswear a touch of luxe decades before athleisure became a thing. Rue McClanahan was contractually allowed to keep all of her character’s custom-made clothes, which reportedly filled 13 closets.
Rose is a kind-hearted country girl and her wardrobe exudes a down-to-earth simplicity and charm. As a grief counsellor, Rose’s look was warm and approachable – hence her collection of comedy jumpers. Statement sweaters are serious business on today’s catwalks and it’s easy to imagine Rose (played by Betty White) in a cute Iceberg pullover or Ralph Lauren teddy bear knit. The circle of style has spun enough times that Rose’s love of pussybows is also very of the moment, , while her penchant for a crisp knotted shirt is as timeless as tales of Earnest T Minkie and The Great Herring War.
Dorothy’s outfits were so directional that MC Escher could have designed them: everything cut on the bias, lines zig-zagging this way and that, origami necklines, trompe l’oeil waistcoats – you never knew where to look and that may have been the point. Substitute teacher Dorothy was a no-nonsense character favouring tailored neutrals and layered looks with 20s-inspired drop-waists, duster coats and tunics with wide-legged palazzo pants – still a summer staple. She never wore heels, preferring slouchy boots or sandals, because the actor Bea Arthur hated wearing shoes.
Picture it: Shady Pines retirement home, 1985, a poor, widowed woman flees a terrible fire with nothing more than bifocals and a clunky wicker handbag. Sophia lugged that thing everywhere – proof that if that you invest in a quality bag, you’ll want to show it off. The bag actually belonged to the actor Estelle Getty, who used it for her audition and clearly nailed it. Sophia had a sweet old lady style that belied the sharp Sicilian woman that lurked beneath her Peter Pan collars and polycotton florals. She was also the queen of cardies – the dimmer switch of knitwear and, therefore, one of the most functional items to own. Plus a cardigan is never going to ruin your hair and it has pockets. Can you keep Polo mints in a polo neck? ’Course not, you great botchagaloop.