The girls have their first brush with death when Sophia goes from having a bubble in her chest to what she believes is a heart attack. We examine the finer points of this episode, such as Blanche's willingness to step in as the logical decision maker, Rose and Dorothy's shared vulnerability during a tender moment, and once again, how so many Miami doctors are still making house calls in the late 1980s.
Below is the Enough Wicker podcast transcript for Episode 10: Scungilli Kills!, analyzing The Golden Girls Season 1 episode, Heart Attack :
Hello and welcome to Enough Wicker, a podcast where we get a bubble in our chest just thinking about our favorite ladies, The Golden Girls. I'm Lauren.
And I'm Sarah.
And today we're on the 10th episode in the series, Heart Attack. This is -- this is a heavy one. It's the first near-death experience. Only 10 episodes in!
It's true. It's true. I mean, we are talking about elderly people. So they are you know, they're doing a good job of staying on point.
Yeah, I mean, I think also, like don't have an 80-year-old woman cater a party.
Seriously. And at least at least when they discover her having her quote unquote heart attack, you know, it's because Rose prompts them to say, Are we letting her clean up, too? Like, what the hell is s wrong with us? Go to bed!
Yeah, Rose, the voice of reason, who cannot say the word 'belch.'
Exactly. I also thought that was a great character write. It's just so perfect. That's what she finds, you know, disdainful. That's a curse word.
'By a you know what'!
Yeah, exactly. Oh, goodness gracious. So I actually -- even though this one is heavy, I think I do watch it fairly frequently. And it's interesting, because it all takes place in the house. And there's no B story --
Yeah, there's only one plotline!
Exactly. It's just a heart attack. Which I think gives it, like, a richness you know, because again, they're all in this together. I think this is, like, another time they reiterate the whole 'chosen family' piece. There's, there's just like a lot of themes here that come up -- that have come up already. As we you know, we expanded from the idea of the death of your parents from the last, you know, episode where we are actually talking about Rose's mother, and how Rose was fearful about it. But, uh, you know, even just like, past episode topics, but also future episode topics where we're really you know -- the concern about Sophia in general to has come up before, and then just dealing with your own mortality when you're surrounded by other people's death is a big deal.
Yeah, and we talked a lot about -- even just in the short, you know, 10 episodes -- but it will continue: the idea that mortality is always kind of hovering around older people, I think is really, you know, obviously it's very heavy, but I think it's very true. And I think it's completely overshadowed whenever there's, like, an old person, definitely on a sitcom. It's like, a funny joke here and there, you know, but it's never actually explored in this level. And I think that there needs to not be a B story in this to make it as you know, all of their attention is on Sophia, which it would be in real life. And I think that that adds a lot to the weight of this episode.
Yeah, absolutely. I think it's interesting too, because, you know, later in the in the series, of course, like lots of deaths are played for laughs and you know, Sophia is looking for dates in the obituaries, and all that kind of stuff. But there's a part -- there's a scene in the kind of the very beginning when, you know, Sophia is still on the couch and Rose and Blanche are having a sidebar because they started talking about death. And they're like, Oh, you know, what, what should it be like? And what do you think? and blah, blah and dark, he just comes over, she goes, "Will you two shut up?" And it just, it rings so true when something serious is going on, and people just naturally gravitate to like, oh, let's talk about death as sort of like, an obscure topic. And then somebody's like, No, no, like, 'this is real. Like, I'm feeling this right now. And I really don't want to talk about the uncomfortable things, particularly in front of my mother.' It just really struck me, where it is just, like, they're just kind of gabbing about it. Because for them, it's, you know, it's true, but it's they're not as old as Sophia, and it's not their mother. At least in that earlier part of the episode. They're less concerned than Dorothy, so I thought that was really interesting piece.
Yeah, and I think to go back a little, another thing that this episode does really well is sort of the 'mounting concern,' because initially Sophia just has a bubble, right? Like that's what she calls it. And they're all -- Dorothy, particularly, is you know, concerned, but she's not, like, freaking out. And then it kind of deteriorates and Sophia is, like, in pain and then she's laying down, you know, she can't do much and it is, you know, and a half an hour or whatever it is 22 minutes. And obviously, it's a sitcom, so it has to be lighter, but I do think they do a good job at that also sort of like 'avalanche' feeling of like, 'I'm okay, but I don't feel right' into 'we need to call an ambulance.'
You're right. I never thought about that.
Yeah. And Sophia really, I think her journey, quote, unquote, this episode is like, 'I have a bubble, I'm okay.' And then she's really scared. And then she's sort of, like, by the end, which we'll talk about when we get there, but she kind of, like, accepts that she's gonna die and it's a really, really dark exchange between her and Dorothy.
It really is. And that's part of the mounting concern too, right where you have a person who has a bubble and then all of a sudden they're talking about how they're, like, okay to die?
Yeah, what a jump!
Exactly. Also for the lighthearted part of this, even though this isn't supposed to be light and it's supposed to add to the drama, like part of the drama is that there's a huge storm outside, right, and that they're, you know, the paramedics can't get through and again, they also -- you know, to your topic of the mounting concern and like the decisions you have to make within that -- like, they actually have an exchange, which is a very real-life exchange: 'should we drive to the hospital, or should we wait for them to come here?' and you know, and Blacnhe says, like, 'well, if they can't get through, what do you think we can do?' and it's a really -- it's that's a very tactical decision that you would have to make in a situation like this. It's very interesting. But in the -- the whole storm (of course they decide not to go) there's a bunch of scenes, right, there's like the the main room but then you can see it in the kitchen, out the kitchen window, when you know Dorothy is looking for Sophia's rosary in her room out her window, there's always these like comedic, you know, like palm leaves just blowing. And actually, this was so low budget you know, it's first season and everything -- it was just staff members shaking the leaves. Which I thought was so great -- just people on set, like, 'grab a palm and make it look really threatening!' The same thing in the beginning, too when they're you know, friends -- like, 'Who are these lady friends?' leave from dinner. And there's just like, wild, you know, shaking it's just it just adds something extra to go back and watch and imagine just, like, little PAs behind all of it.
Yeah, you gotta do what you gotta do -- it's an all-hands-on-deck situation.
Yeah. So, I guess like going back to when Sophia first sort of starts to not feel well. There are some light-hearted moments, sort of, like you were talking about, too, when she's talking about her families and she's, like, running through her very Italian relatives, like Uncle Nunzio and Aunt Teresa, and you know, like going through their medical histories. And it's, it's light -- I don't know that I would call it funny, but there's you know, there's like some to it, but, but that was another thing that I thought about this episode is, like, there are a couple quippy jokes. There's 'Lindstrom Lindstrom,' Rose's cat. There's Blanche sort of just like resigning to the fact that when you turn 80, something's got to go, which is like very on brand but but really this is -- it's like, you could sell this as not a sitcom. You know, it's a heavy episode.
It is! Actually there's -- I noted it's weird, as I just mentioned, like where they have this dinner party with these like, ladies that we never heard of or will hear from again. But they, Blanche, like, has a number of lines in the beginning where she's like sort of mocking like this one woman who ate a lot or something, and getting, like, food in her face and it's just kind of weak. Like it doesn't get a lot of laughs from the audience. That's kind of interesting because like, it almost foreshadows the fact that this isn't really a funny episode. You know, it's just like, Blanche kind of goofin', and then we go right into the drama. But it was just -- it's just interesting having the studio audience component and seeing what they actually judged to be very funny. But they -- they were just sort of like courtesy laughing, I think, in the very beginning. I was kind of snide, too, she's just sort of mocking this larger woman. you know, anyway. But yeah, you're right there's like there's a couple really -- I really liked the line like, 'what kind of pain?' 'The kind that hurts! It's like, just like, total real life, like what the fuck are you talking about? You know, I'm just like, I told you, it's right here and it hurts, and that's all -- that's the all information that I have. You know, the other part where Sophia has already gone into, like, I went to heaven, you know, I didn't take a nap. I you know, saw your father, all this stuff and, you know, Rose is like going into like, 'oh what what's heaven like?' You know? And then Blanche goes, 'Sophia, are there lots of men in heaven?' and Rose is like, 'Come on, Blanche! 'Well you asked her about God and Jesus!' Like an equal exchange of this ridiculous, like, scenario. Which happens a lot, too, where it's like Sophia will do something quirky and/or imaginary and unfocused, and Blanche and Rose, being the non-voice of reason characters, of course that's Dorothy's occupation, will just sort of like pile on and Dorothy is the only one left in the room like, 'what the hell is going on here?'
Yeah, and Rose's description of all the different heavens, like Protestant heaven, the cows and a Catholic heaven and a Jewish heaven with libraries --
And furriers. Well, let's talk about that, too. Because this is, you know, one of the first, like, signals of the whole like Sophia being an inappropriate older woman, even for the 80s, right? Like we very much of a future like see her asking the, the doctor of Chinese descent, helping Dorothy's, you know, issue with chronic fatigue syndrome and she just constantly, just like, Asian stereotype, Asian stereotype, Asian stereotype. And in this one, you know, the doctor comes to the house. And of course I also love, love, love, love, love that she is the -- Sophia plays the old woman, like, the mother who wants to feed you when you come into her house. Like she's quote unquote, dying, right, of a heart attack and she's like trying to get the doctor to eat some of the food she made, that she catered for these women. And he mentions that he came from his mother's house, which also was like a hilarious, like, Jewish son stereotype in and of itself. And he had kreplach, and she's like, 'you're Jewish?' and he's like, 'Yeah,' and she goes, 'why are so many doctors Jewish?' and then immediately he just goes 'because their mothers are,' and I just thought that was such a perfect retort to like kind of an inappropriate, stereotypical question. And I'm like, damn, I hope people use that in real life. Like, none of your business, like, it's because their mothers are Jewish. It's perfect.
Yeah, he's so unbothered by it. Exactly. Exactly.
Right? So unbothered, like personality-wise, as well as, like, I probably get this shit all the time from old ladies like you.
Yeah. And this is also this is a big reveal, because this is where we learned that Charlie had a heart attack while he and Rose were having sex.
And there's a very, it's very sweet. It's a little bit awkward, because also Rose gives extremely scientifically inaccurate information about heart attacks. She's like, basically like, 'No, I've seen it. It's bigger. This can't be one,' which is, you know, it could. They're different.
They're different. And they're also very different for men and women.
Yes, I was just reading about that! I was like, 'Oh my God, my arm is a little numb, what's happening?!' But ya know, so they're very different. So she, so she has this moment with Dorothy that is a real, you know, Dorothy's feeling obviously overwhelmed and really scared and she's very vulnerable in a way that she isn't usually -- it's, you know, like she's, as you said, sort of like the pillar of strength and reason, but she's terrified, obviously, her mother's dying. And Rose has this really, you know, terrible experience in her past that we when we know Charlie died, but we don't know how. And it is very like confessional meets, you know, like, trying to -- just trying to comfort her and the only way she knows is to sort of, you know, be like, 'this happened to me.' And it's, it's, it's a big reveal.
Mm hmm. Absolutely. And it's funny because she, you know, she -- Betty White does a really really good job of being so emotional like telling the story matter of factly, and then you see her go back in her memory and she you know, she kind of looks off into the distance, was like talking about how she dressed him and everything like that, and then it was over. You know, she gets really emotional and, you know, obviously Bea is, too, as you're talking about this moment. What's interesting again, they're great actresses. They don't need real-life experience to really pull this out, but both Bea Arthur and Betty White's mothers had just recently died. So it's like, I mean, we mentioned this before about Bea Arthur, but also Betty White. And it's like amazing to have like, Oh, what's this next table read episode? Oh, sorry. We're dealing with the mortality of your mother. And they're like, Cool. Thanks, guys. Like great timing. So -- but yeah, it's kind of interesting. And I think as a result, this was like a tough one to to film.
Yeah, no, I'm sure and, and there is some -- not while you're watching it, but sort of when you're looking back and dissecting it, like I get she needed to dress him. I hear that too. Like Charlie really was being picky about wearing a suit? Like my guy, you're going to the hospital -- put a T shirt on.
Also the Labor Day thing. Like, it's like, 'I can't wear white after Labor Day.' First of all, you're from Minnesota. That's like an East Coast, vacation, rich people thing. This isn't The Great Gatsby, Charlie. Like, get over yourself. But it is funny because it is this like conservative male thing that just cracks me up. But yeah, you're right. Like in the moment, it's actually very sweet. And then you go, wait, what? That's stupid.
And during that conversation, too, it is pretty difficult to watch this episode, I think, and not think about obviously, you know the mortality of the people you love but also your own mortality. I think like, you know, they talked about the last -- Rose talks about the last interaction she has with Charlie, and then when, like I, I alluded to before, when Sophia has sort of, like, accepted that she's gonna die, which is, you know, 15 minutes before -- like, after she had this bubble. She tells Dorothy she's her favorite. She, you know, like, gives her, like, her family instructions and things like that. And it's, it's really heavy. It's really, um, it's pretty dark, actually. There's no -- I feel like usually, or at least up until this moment, when there's moments like this, there's like some light-hearted thing that comes in, like a joke or something, or interruption, and that doesn't really happen here, which sort of, again, with the component of having only one plotline, really makes you invested in the relationship and what's going to happen and Dorothy's sort of just like, total distraught state.
Mm hmm, exactly. And especially in that, you know, it -- what this episode makes me think of, too, is that you know, you're having a party, right? You literally just had a dinner party, everything's fun. You're all on top of, you know, the world and everybody's giggling and then boom, like that. Something terrible could happen. Like immediately. That, like, most of the time that like death looks like it just fits into normal life. And that's, that's exactly what it's dealt with -- what it's dealing with here. And like you said, the absence of a B story, the entire focus of the episode in their home, like everything about it is just, yeah, it's -- it's thought provoking. It really makes you think about our policy in Guatemala.
The other thing about, you know, they obviously, as I alluded to earlier, they're just pontificating about death and beginning. And especially Rose and Blanche with the sidebar, but I actually think it's pretty wise, like Rose says, 'there should just be a certain age that you turn your life in, like a library book.' Like, I love that. You don't have to deal with these like, oh, we're having a wonderful situation and here it comes, you know, you can fully prepare just is very fascinating, like, kind of philosophical, or, like, science fiction idea, right? And I just love that like, it's just one of those nuggets of the quote unquote stupidest person in the room actually saying the wise thing -- the thing that's more likely to kind of fit better with life, you know?
Yeah, she's very, she's very reflective.
Yeah, yeah, exactly. Exactly.
Yeah, no, and I was just gonna say, um, you know, sort of this does -- of course, all of this was caused by overeating, which is like, also fits very well in. It's like she has the scungilli, which is like the real problem. And then you know, she's going -- the doctor's like, asking her to list everything she ate. And also, it's funny because Sophia start saying the things, but what I like is what I think adds some comedic relief to this, is then all other girls start chiming in about what they saw her eating, and it's very accurate. I feel like when you're, you know, definitely at a party, but also like, if you asked me to run down things I ate after a party, I would definitely, like, undersell it, you know, but like, all of the girls are like, no I saw her over there and over there! And it's very funny.
And there also is an element of like watching the old lady, right? Like, it's a little, like, pedantic of like, they're like, 'Well, let me tell you,' you know, and it just comes up at the end and you're right. And it's funny too, because I had noticed the very beginning when they're all mocking in these like kind of non-jokes when Blanche is mocking the other dinner guest, like, Sophia's stuffing her face like you can see that like she's at the table in some nice foreshadowing, if you watch the episode more than once. But um, but yeah, it is just -- it's really really funny and I also love that, like, they finally get the doctor to eat, you know, the what is it? Is it the -- is it mushrooms?
I think so. Yeah, the gorgonzola mushrooms.
Yeah. Gorgonzola! That's right, I was like, 'that sounds delicious.' He's like, 'hide these, oh my god' it's like it's just such a ridiculous scene and again, like trying to be like, 'take care of the old lady, like, she clearly has no self control.' Hide the scungilli! It's so funny. But yeah, I think the the only other big thing to talk about is what I alluded to earlier -- the chosen family piece. Right? They're really hammering that home, like Blanche says, like, 'you know we're your family too, Dorothy. Now you remember that. We might not be blood, but we're here.' And it's such -- it just really hammers home this whole idea of the series of that your family doesn't necessarily need to be blood, you don't need to be related to someone to really feel their death, and the sort of impending doom that that might bring to, you know, to relate to Dorothy and what she's going through. Like Blanche and Rose are right there. Like you said, they might not be there in the very beginning, but it ramps up because it gets super serious. And again, it's just, like, a nice moment where it's, it reads very true as to what, you know, you just had this party, everything sort of turns on its head, and they're all strategizing as if this was three sisters talking about their own mother.
Yeah, no, and I think that the, the biggest part of that is when Blanche calls the paramedics. Which you talked about earlier. And she comes back and they they're kind of like going back and forth. And it's like, that is how a family would do it. It's like somebody would be so just sort of lost in their grief and emotion. But then there is, like, there has to be a voice of reason, which in this case is Blanche, and she's like, 'you know, we can't -- what are we going to do, if the paramedics can't get through? We can't drive.' And it is it's really nice to see them all come together and fill all of those necessary roles to, you know, to do what it takes to help Sophia.
You're right, you're right, because it's -- Yeah, it's not Blanche and Rose saying, 'Well, what do you want to do, Dorothy?' Like, no, I'm just, like -- we're all in this. Yeah, it's a really nice moment, with the, you know, and obviously, everything works out okay. And I also appreciate how they acknowledge that, like, it is a very funny thing where you just have a doctor say, 'you're fine.' And then you're like, 'Oh, my God, I don't feel like I'm dying anymore.' Because it is like sort of this magical transformation. But again, it is very realistic. And it's again, if I'm flashing forward to the chronic fatigue episode, where it's' like, Dorothy, just having a name for the thing she has really makes her feel so much better. It's a similar thing here. Where just like the doctor saying, You are not experiencing what you really thought it was. And then you're like, Boom, that's fine. Yes. And it's great. And yet another doctor house call. How lucky are we?
Popular in Miami.
Especially during a storm.
Yeah, exactly. He can get there, no problem.
Yeah. Did he leave in the middle of the kreplach? Or like -- how quickly did you rush? Is this another Jewish stereotype where your mother wouldn't let you leave until you finished your plate? Come on, man.
Getting them all in there.
It's so funny. So but yeah, super heavy, heavy episode that I actually do watch because it really does link you know, so much about this series together in this, like they they run through a very very serious topic together, no distractions, no weird B stories, no, you know, younger man that Blanche is dating that we completely forget about, like last episode. And yeah, I think it's really solid.
Yeah, I like this one too. It's it's, you know, obviously it's -- it's dark. But I do like it. I think there's a lot of really heartwarming and -- heartwarming moments and also, like you said, like bonds that last throughout and and similar threads that go beyond this episode and beyond the season, even. So yeah overall, I like this one, too.
All righty! Well join us next time when we discussed the likelihood of sleeping with your ex-husband whilst closing a real estate deal. Take care, everybody.