Manhattan is drooping, making leaving the house a tragic undertaking. I am in a deeply committed relationship with my air conditioner and iced coffee.
I need to say some things about the Golden Girls, considering that now, only Betty White is still alive. (Our national security efforts need to go into protecting her.) Watching reruns takes up a lot of my television time, which is saying a lot, since I love television. I used to watch the show with my mom, every Saturday night, until the series ended, or until I got old enough to become sensitive about staying home on Saturday nights, I’m not sure which came first. Watching the show as an adult has been very different, and not just because I now get the majority of the jokes. As network tv goes, the show was really subversive and feminist: Four women over the age of fifty living together, talking regularly about sex (challenging the idea that women of a certain age are no longer sexual or feminine).
These ladies built a family that looked nothing like any other concept of family that was on tv then (read: without men), and now. This was intensely relevant for me, someone who grew up in a house of exclusively women. I never thought that was weird, because I lived it, and because I saw it emulated every week. For better or worse, you can’t underestimate the impact of media on anyone, let alone a pre teen girl.
I invest a lot of emotion into fictional characters, one of the hazards of being both a writer and an only child. The show was part of my early feminist stirrings, although I wouldn’t have called it that then. It gave me hope-I didn’t have to do things the way everyone else did, I could build my own communities and imagine a life on my own terms. It was possible, someone else besides me had thought about it, and there it was.
There is some element of pain in all of our childhoods, in spite of our desire to pretend otherwise. Most of the time, I don’t even try, because the story is so complicated and the remaining relationships so difficult. But this particular memory, of watching this show with my mother is powerful and outstanding, because it represents both the rare moments of joy and the potential for productive noise.