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Friends of Dorothy: Was 'The Golden Girls' Really As Queer-Friendly As Its Reputation Suggests?

By Jose Gallegos | /Bent July 10, 2014 at 10:29AM

“The Golden Girls” is a seminal queer classic, one that flawlessly incorporated aging women into NBC’s primetime lineup. Since its initial airing, the show has developed quite an immense following from viewers (especially gay men) who enjoy the antics and sexual escapades of Rose, Blanche, Dorothy, and Sophia. But what I have noticed about some of the more prominent and vocal fans is that they tend to glaze over the show’s problematic depictions of LGBTQ characters, hailing these depictions as brave and flawless.
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THE FAUX-LESBIAN GAG ROUTINE
Blanche and Dorothy in “Goodbye, Mr. Gordon” S07 E15

Dorothy and Blanche agree to appear on “Wake Up, Miami” because Rose is the associate producer. Unbeknownst to all the roommates, the show is about lesbians (or as Blanche calls them, “Lesbian lovers of Miami”). Rose blackmails the girls into staying on the show (saying that if she gets fired, she’ll tell them St. Olaf stories), and they even take on dominant and passive roles (Dorothy “take[s] out the garbage” and Blanche is “the little homemaker”).

The episode is self-aware and it pokes fun at the homosocial bonds between the four women by turning them into potentially homosexual bonds (especially at the expense of Bea Arthur’s butch features). Yet the episode over steps its boundaries by having Blanche use her faux lesbian status to date men (Blanche goes out with a man who wants to convert her).

I doubt that the legacy of “The Golden Girls” is based on these queer representations, but it is still important to examine how these characters play in the show. We as queer viewers reappropriate the show for out of our own cultural desires, but I believe our adoration of the show is based on homosociality rather than homosexuality. We may not get the best representations of LGBTQ characters, but at least we still have four friends and a slice of cheesecake.

Watch the episode below: