I love The Golden Girls. It’s one of my favorite shows. I’ve seen the entire run of the show many times. While I have the entire series on DVD, I watch it constantly on Hulu. I’ve watched it so many times in fact, my parrot loves the show and will fly to his perch closest to the TV to watch. For the record, his favorite character is Sophia. He makes a kissing noise when Estelle Getty’s credit comes on the screen.
For those who inexplicably do not know the basic plot of The Golden Girls, it’s simple. Four women live together in Miami. The women are all in their “Golden Years” so to speak, and deal with issues related to romance, age, sex, employment, family, etc. Blanche Devereaux (Rue McClanahan) owns a huge mid-century modern style home in Miami, and because this is the 80s, it is packed to the gills with wicker furniture. Blanche is a widow, having lost her husband George a few years prior. Blanche places an ad for roommates on the bulletin board at the local supermarket. While at the market, she meets Rose Nylund (Betty White), a widow who is looking for somewhere to live. Soon enough, Rose is renting a room at Blanche’s home. Later, divorcee Dorothy Zbornak (Bea Arthur) answers the ad, and nabs the remaining two bedrooms at Blanche’s home, one for herself and one for her mother, Sophia Petrillo (Estelle Getty).
Part of the humor of The Golden Girls are the differences and dynamics between the women. Blanche is a sex-crazed, vain, sometimes selfish Southern Belle. She works at the local art museum, which allows Blanche to pretend she’s a woman of culture, despite her membership in an unauthorized Elvis Presley Fan Club. Another member of the unauthorized Elvis Presley Fan Club is the dim, but good natured Rose. She is very naive, but very kind and a good friend. She hails from the small town of St. Olaf, Minnesota. Dorothy and her mother Sophia are from Brooklyn. Dorothy is a former member of the unauthorized Elvis Presley Fan Club, but was thrown out for making a joke about a half-eaten porkchop obviously being a fake. Sophia loves to regale everyone with stories of her hometown in Sicily, often starting her stories with “Picture It…”
Many of the best episodes of The Golden Girls are ones that take the girls out of the confines of their home. In the Season 3 episode, “Grab That Dough,” the girls take a red-eye flight to Hollywood after Sophia announces she’s gotten them a spot as contestants on a game show. The game show is called “Grab That Dough,” which despite how absurd it is, is apparently Dorothy’s favorite game show. The airline loses their luggage, causing the girls arrive at their hotel late and discover that their room has been given away. Blanche tries the “do you know who I am?” method, but it fails.
BLANCHE: “It so happens that I am Miss Angie Dickinson.”Rue McClanahan as “Blanche Devereaux,” and Lucy Lee Flippin as “Nancy” the Front Desk Clerk.
NANCY: “You don’t look like Angie Dickinson to me.”
BLANCHE: “I know. I have altered my appearance for a very important movie role.”
Avid TV fans may recognize Nancy the Front Desk Clerk as Almanzo “Manly” Wilder’s sister, Eliza Jane in Little House on the Prairie. Anyway, after the girls pay Nancy $75 ($190 in 2023) for the pleasure of sleeping on the furniture in the lobby, they end having their purses stolen overnight. Fortunately, Sophia had the “Grab That Dough” tickets in her brassiere.
SOPHIA: “Dorothy, I’m in the ladies room, I look in my brassiere. What do you think I find?”Estelle Getty as “Sophia Petrillo” and Bea Arthur as “Dorothy Zbornak.”
DOROTHY: “Hopefully what we all find when we look in our brassiere.”
The girls end up hoofing it dozens of blocks to the TV studio. They are star struck over host Guy Corbin and his assistant, Tiffany. Guy Corbin and Tiffany are very much in the same vein as Bob Barker and his “Barker’s Beauties” on The Price is Right. Anyway, right before they go on the air, Blanche comes up with a scheme. She decides that the girls would have better luck if they split up and joined forces with the other two contestants–The Kaplan Brothers. She suggests that she and Dorothy ditch “deadweight” Sophia and Rose. Blanche, Dorothy and one of the Kaplans will form one team, and Rose, Sophia and the other Kaplan will form the other.
“Grab That Dough” is soon rolling and it is instantly hilarious, starting with the introductions:
GUY CORBIN: “Our second contestant is an artist with an incredible body! She runs her own museum, speaks Chinese, and hopes to sail around the world before she turns 40. ::looks at front and back of note card:: Wow! That must be a typo! Welcome, Blanche Devereaux!James MacKrell as “Guy Corbin.”
The questions are so mundane. I can’t believe that Dorothy, usually presented as an intellectual, would be so into this show. But who knows, maybe it’s a guilty pleasure of hers. Anyway, Blanche’s scheme backfires, and it turns out that the Kaplan brother on their team is a complete moron. At one point, Dorothy bans him from touching his buzzer. However, Blanche rescues the question segment of the show.
GUY CORBIN: “Complete this famous saying: ‘Better late than…’ Blanche?”James MacKrell as “Guy Corbin” and Rue McClanahan as “Blanche Devereaux.”
GUY CORBIN: “That is incorrect, but certainly not untrue!”
Blanche and Dorothy are losing to Rose and Sophia miserably, until things turn around and Dorothy is given the opportunity to “grab that dough.” She is then given an apron and placed inside of a big tube which will blow money around. Dorothy is supposed to use her “meat hooks” (per Guy Corbin) to grab as much “dough” as she can. Personally, I would have just scooped up the money that fell on the bottom of the tube, but maybe that is against the rules–though “Grab That Dough” seems like a pretty fast and loose game. Dorothy easily grabs enough dough to propel her and Blanche into the lead.
GUY CORBIN: “Blue team. We don’t want you to go away empty handed. You have $400, that’s $100 a piece. And you have the home version of ‘Grab That Dough,’ which attaches to any vacuum cleaner.”James MacKrell as “Guy Corbin.”
Blanche and Dorothy do not fare as well. Blanche gambles away their $900 cash for what’s in Window 3. After losing the new living room furniture in Window 1, and the new car in Window 2, they win an electric skillet from the Fry Quick Corporation. After some choice comments from Dorothy causes Guy Corbin to offer apologies to the Fry Quick Corporation, the girls end up winning a lifetime supply of soup to go with their electric skillet. The girls return home, happy that their trip is over.
This episode is very funny–the highlight of course being the game show. The best episodes of The Golden Girls also pit the girls against one another, which always seems to bring out the worst sides of their personalities. Blanche and Dorothy ditching Rose and Sophia would play out in another episode where the girls take part in a bowling competition. Between all the different sports they play/coach (bowling, baseball, football), the tutoring, charity work, etc. etc. is there anything the girls can’t do?