Thursday, June 3, 2010

I Can't Believe I'm Blogging About the Golden Girls

Hey, two followers! I've doubled my following!! Woo-hoo!!!

I've noted that most of my recent posts have been of a rather serious nature, so instead I thought I'd ramble a bit.

A very unfortunate side effect of my wife's pregnancy has been her fascination (one is tempted to use the word 'fetish') with pregnancy shows on the various offshoots of the Discovery Channel.  For those lucky souls who've never been forced to watch them, these 30-minute shows follow a reality-show documentary-format in introducing us to a pregnant young lass and her loving husband/boyfriend/one-night-stand-partner. After attempting to humanize the subject (she loves exercising!), we get to hear how excited she is to be pregnant. And then we find out that there's a terrible problem that endangers the life of the mother/baby/both. And then after some dramatic music plays, we see a tremendously disgusting birth scene, and then the money shot: happy, makeup-running, sweaty mother and usually-ugly, slimy child are united.

Then the show ends and the next one starts. And the exact same thing happens again.  And 30 minutes later, again.  And 30 minutes later, again.  And 30 minutes later, again.  Ad infinitum, on and on, the exact same plot, the exact same facial expressions, the exact same body parts getting cut open, the exact same music.

I counted thirty-two installments of these shows on my DVR last week, nestled amongst the chick flicks and the reruns of Shaun the Sheep (of which I heartily approve). I'm sure hormones are at work here, but I just can't understand the appeal. You know, maybe it was nice the first time... but after twenty or so identical happy-to-be-pregnant/health-problem/emergency-medical-activity/healthy-but-disgusting-birth cycles, it really starts to get old to me.

Every time I ask my wife if she's sick of it yet, or when I ask her if she's noticed the utter predictability of it, or when I point out that that baby on the screen is absolutely the opposite of cute, or when I start predicting what the doctors will say before they say it... she just tells me to go away.  She offered to change the channel once, and she turned it to... a Kenny Chesney concert. How well my wife knows me.

When she's not watching the nonstop birthing parade on Discovery Health, she invariably finds a Golden Girls marathon on some other channel (which I can only assume is the Lifetime network).  No red-blooded man could be expected to retain his masculinity while having to decide between the Golden Girls and pregnancy surgeries, but whenever offered any kind of choice, the intelligent human must vote with whichever side includes Betty White. I never understood the universal appeal of Bea Arthur (in fact, I must admit that there have been nightmares), but Betty, Rue, and Estelle were comedic masterminds.

I hope that I didn't lose any manhood points for that comment.

I always likened the Golden Girls to the Muppets (but then, I've likened most everything I've encountered to the Muppets).  The character of Blanche, the sexually liberated Southern Belle, was just like Miss Piggy - a tough, independent woman who was very secure in her femininity, but probably ate a bit too much cheesecake.  The character of Dorothy, the more mature and sensible grounded woman, had a lot in common with my childhood idol Kermit the Frog (and I hope Kermit will forgive me for the comparison) - they both seemed to be the only sane characters on their respective shows, and didn't have much luck with significant others.  The character of Rose, the sweet but not altogether intelligent girl from St. Olaf, was just like Gonzo - a devil-may-care optimist whose ideas would be limited by neither taste, likelihood, nor good sense.

And of course, the crotchety old Sophia was just like Statler and Waldorf, always ready to put a negative spin on any success with a carefully placed one-liner, or delight with childish glee in any failure.  Just as the two old men in the balcony enjoyed tormenting Fozzie and the rest of the Muppets with their nonstop heckling, Sophia could always be trusted to make everyone around her look even more foolish. And if there's one thing the modern television viewer enjoys watching, it's someone being made to look foolish.

This is, after all, why reality TV shows are so popular.

Yes, it had sappy plots that made me change the channel, and yes, I hated the theme song, and yes, Bea Arthur still scares me a bit... but I've got to admit, there were five to ten minutes of comedy gold in any given Golden Girls episode. And how many TV shows out there in the last sixty years have dared to star an ensemble of four grandmothers?


  1. Watching pregnancy shows has only strengthened my resolve to never, ever think I need a kid. Golden Girls, on the other hand, makes me think it will be totally okay to be an frisky old lady. Although being old is still at least 20 or 30 years away, right?

  2. Kate, you'll never get old... just more Kate-ish!