Stanley is back in Miami in the 11th episode of the Golden Girls. He came to sell some property but somehow ended up in Dorothy's bed (and nightgown!). We break down how satisfying it is for Dorothy to finally choose to walk away on her own terms and examine the ethics of leaving your 80-year-old mother at home so you can go on vacation with your two best friends.
Below is the Enough Wicker podcast transcript for Episode 11: The Return of Stickman AKA Stan's Return, analyzing The Golden Girls Season 1 episode, The Return of Dorothy's Ex :
Hello and welcome to Enough Wicker, a podcast where even yutz ex-husbands can't ruin the magic that is The Golden Girls. I'm Lauren.
And I'm Sarah.
And today we're tackling the 11th episode in the series, The Return of Dorothy's Ex, aka Stan's Return.
It's written differently in different sources.
There are so many of these that have, like, an alternative title.
I know! It's really funny. Well, I think it's like, 'the Return of Dorothy's Ex' was like the formal one, because it's first season, like 'Does everybody remember who it is?' And then everybody's like, Stan's return.
Yeah. We know Stan.
We know, Stan!
So I was excited about this one because I like -- I love the relationship between Dorothy and Stan. And it's finally -- it's funny. It's like, you know, we're finally past the point of it not being able to be joked about wholeheartedly, because there's still so much, you know, sort of like a fresh wound there. So we're moving into being funny which is great,
Right, and then just the constant sleeping together.
Yeah! But you know -- so I noted that -- this is the first time I thought that, but this is not that unrealistic. If you had broken up with somebody after, you know almost 40 years of being together, it's only two or three years off the divorce, and they haven't really seen each other. And you know, Stan leaving is obviously terrible, but I do feel like it was probably a fairly common midlife crisis -- IS a fairly common midlife crisis. And so it's like, you know what, like, maybe you would sleep with your ex husband, if you hadn't seen him in so long. And you know, like, they're going to this place they thought they would retire and it's not so out of the realm of possibility, I feel.
Oh, for sure. Yeah, no, I definitely agree with I just think it's great -- like, I definitely feel on this, you can see both of the sides where it's like - -Sophia is like, 'you gotta be fucking kidding me.' That's really hilarious. So we also -- just to back up in the beginning, we find, you know, the girls are planning -- just the three of them -- are planning on going on vacation together, right? And it's like, again, we brought this up before, contrasting with like the pilot, where Blanche is just like, well, I don't know, maybe we'll go to New York, I hope we don't get murdered. She was like vehemently fighting to go to Martinique. You know? Of course she does. And that makes way more sense of the Blanche character. It's like, thank God, we're at this point here. And she's actually very anti New York. And because of course, Dorothy wants to go back but what cracks me up is that like, you wouldn't bring your mother back to the old neighborhood? You jackass. Come on.
Like I get they had to, you know, stir up some drama here to have a little story, but like, come on now.
Yeah, the leaving Sophia behind is, you know, like a running thing and it always is really funny. But they -- when Sophia finds out they're going on vacation, and she's like, 'hello!' And they're like, oh, we thought you would stay home and watch the house. It's like, what? And then she makes that very dated but still funny reference to how Brooke Shields takes her mother everywhere, and Dorothy doesn't know she knows, so Sophia is just like yelling about Brooke Shields -- It's very funny.
Exactly. That's really good. Oh my god. But yeah, I just -- it's also like, so, so Blanche wants to go to Martinique Dorothy wants to go back to New York, you know, and I love the line, like 'New Yorkers are all sickos' -- like, 'we could go to Hollywood!' and Sophia goes, 'good choice, no sickos there!' It's so perfect. It's like one of my favorites of this episode. This episode's very punchy, too, there's so many lines. But also Rose wants to go to Williamsburg, Virginia, which is just about the most Rose vacation spot I can think of, and it's amazing and it's so funny, because I -- I'm not sure about you -- as a teen from New Jersey, I definitely went to Williamsburg, Virginia as a family vacation of mine and it was just about as exciting to a 14-year-old-me, as you can imagine.
I was such a jerk to my parents there, I really was. I think I just listened to headphones and then put my dad's like, like mow-the-lawn earmuffs over the headphones to just block everything. Oh my god. But it's just so perfect that that's what she wants to do. It's amazing.
Yeah, no, their vacation choices are all very on brand. Yeah, Blanche is, like, vehemently against going to New York. And then she -- so much so that that's when she says New Yorkers are sickos, she's trying to convince Rose to get on her side to, like, be anti-New York too. And, yeah, I mean, it is -- it's so messed up that they don't let Sophia come but but the other -- I love Sophia's reaction to it, which is you know, outrage, and then she sort of like organizes a group of women who 'a lot of children like to go on vacation without their mothers' and she like, you know, like, she's like, not gonna take it. I love it. I love the willingness to protest.
Oh, man. And again, we've mentioned this before in The Competition one but like just the the old lady extras that, like, come out in this show, they're just fantastic. Just like too much vehement nodding along and it's not the best acting, but it's pretty hilarious and cute. The whole roving trove of grandmas. That's amazing.
Okay, so Stan's back because they have to, they're selling a piece of property. And you know what else I noticed that it does make sense that both Dorothy and Stan would end up in Miami, even though you know, he was in Hawaii for a little bit. But if they had talked about their whole life retiring here, presumably they both wanted to be in Miami at the end, you know, after they were done working and so that does add up, that they would both be there.
Yeah, it's like good cover just because again, this series is based here because there is an elderly population. Ah, Florida.
And another really funny moment is like when Stan's coming to get her signature, Sophia, like, you know, very loudly is like 'the last time he had you sign something, I ended up in a home!' Yeah. It's another good callback to that.
Exactly, because we haven't heard the term 'Shady Pines' yet, you know?
I mean, we just talked about -- No, no, well, no, yeah. It's coming up. It's coming up when they actually 'reminisce' back in the day. But yeah, we haven't actually heard that. It's just fantastic. And I mean, the whole interaction where Stan comes in. And you know, like Sophia talks about the young chippy of his wife. It's so funny, and he you know, he calls Dorothy beautiful, because he's going to come back with the notary and all that stuff. And he's like, 'bye, Sophia, you're beautiful too.' And they just cut to her and she has this like -- it's very difficult for me to actually describe it, but just the exact face that your ex-mother-in-law for you being a shitty, shady character would have like, 'Uh huh. Yeah. Thanks for calling me beautiful. That really helps the situation.' It's perfectly -- and it leads, it leads perfectly into that whole thing, like, 'why did I ever married that man?' 'because he knocked you up' And that scene gets such a long laugh. Immediately -- like just immediate quip. And then I guess we didn't hear this yet. You know, like, we haven't heard Sophia kind of harp on this, which of course she does anytime Stan's around. There's always some knock-you-up kind of joke. And the story changes, right? Like right here. It's like because he got you drunk. And it's like, that's not like, that's not what the -- that's not canon. But again, just, like, you know, we were talking about the studio audience in the last episode, like it's just so funny how long they have to wait. And again, Sophia keeps that perfect face of just like, 'Yep. Yep. I'm speaking the truth.' It's -- It's so good. It's so great.
Yeah, I think we haven't -- I mean, we have touched on it, but the timing. Everyone's timing with the audience is just so on point.
Sophia in you know, it changes because you have to see how much they laugh or, you know, whatever, because it lands differently. And I think sometimes maybe that's why the audience doesn't laugh as much as, like, a viewer of the TV show. Because it -- you get so much more from watching them respond and honestly, then, their lack of response to it. They just wait for it to be quiet enough to deliver the line. And you know it works every single time. I think it's so good.
Oh god, it's really primo.
Yeah. Oh my God, he's so -- you know, all of the men so far are just so pathetic. Stan, especially, so he -- he basically like cannot be without a woman is like what he's saying. You know? And so, so basically, you know he's there, and then he finally confesses that Chrissy left him and --
You as a viewer, as a female viewer, just go, 'there it is.'
Yeah, of course so annoying. But I love that he says that she left him for a younger man. And Dorothy's like, 'Younger than Chrissy? Where did she meet him, Camp Snoopy?
So good. It's like, she never misses a shot. And I love it.
Exactly. I mean, when you're talking about how pathetic Stan is, right? Like the whole scene in the hotel room where he's like, Oh, my socks and laundry are coming back, and it's like, it's so gross.
The worst part of not having a wife is that his laundry isn't done. Like, it's crazy.
Of course, like they allude to this here. And then, you know, at the end, he's like, wait, so if you won't take me back, I have to go get this woman that I literally just said I don't care about it anymore. And I just -- to her face -- sent her away. Like, it's just, it's the saddest thing, but we all know men like that. So it's again, it's very, very truthful. I think. One more note on the hotel room: Just he goes, Oh, well, usually the man makes the toast. He has champagne, which is also ridiculous. It's like, I didn't know that. And I'm actually very happy I didn't know. Is that supposed to be like how it goes? Is it just, like, an old timey champagne toasting -- like, the woman just didn't speak at all? Which is why the man made the toast?
That seems to probably be right. Like it's very like -- there's so many, in that hotel room scene, which is, I don't know, four minutes long. There are like several instances of, like, hammering home gender stereotypes.
'I don't how to do my laundry.' 'I need a woman to clean up after me.' You know, like there's just so many of them.
I know it's so ridiculous. Also in that scene, Dorothy hands Chrissy the champagne. I never actually noticed that before. Like she's, like, in the middle of like, Okay, well, you guys, you know, this is perfect. This is great. She wants you back, I can get myself out of here, you know, all that kind of stuff. She literally hands Chrissy the champagne she was drinking -- like she's passing the torch. Yeah. It's great.
So to back up a little bit. So when when Dorothy and Stan they go to lunch at this like terrible looking deli, you'll see I noted -- it's a lame-looking sandwich, which doesn't make sense for two people from New York. Um, but yeah,
Right, you're getting corned beef at the side of the road? No, pastrami!
Pastrami of course. So whatever, they're, like, reminiscing, but um, but what I think is really funny is when the three of the other girls are at the table, sort of like the next scene, and they're all just like chatting, and then Stan walks in wearing Dorothy's nightgown, which is also so insane and ridiculous. But Blanche's spit take is just -- I feel like in the next few episodes, there are a couple instances of Rue McClanahan just like nailing the physical comedy, and this is one of them. It's like the perfect just like, shocked, but sort of still, like, once she composes herself, she's trying to like, you know, regain her sense of like, 'what is going on?'
Exactly -- like her presentation. And it's perfect and they're all just like, what? And you know, like sweet little Rose is just, like, so confused and then she goes on her whole like, 'you know what I don't understand?' Yeah, it's like starting to form in our head.
'Is there anything else that you don't understand?' I mean, a thermos is very complicated.
It is! I really don't get it, either.
It's great. Oh, also the, when they're talking right about, like how this happened, all that kind of stuff. Also, can we just talk about Blanche's nightgown with an apron on top?
Oh my god the apron! It is so small! What is the point of it? It's like a, doily!
Like a dress up doll! Exactly! Anyway, they're talking about this whole thing. You know, I think it's, it's amazing. Like Dorothy talks about, she goes, it was just one night with a comfortable stranger. And that is a fantastic phrase and also just a very mature way of saying exactly what you were saying earlier. It's not completely unbelievable for, like, these two people who have so much shared history. They haven't been in each other's lives. They finally have been able to have you know, this, how does Dorothy refer to it? When they say they're, like, they're sitting in the you know, eating the terrible pastrami, and she said we had a bitter divorce which has now devolved - -What does she say? I didn't actually write this line down.
Um -- I don't know, either, bitter divorce -- friendship, maybe? That like a --
It's some sort of like a tense friendship, or something along those lines. So apologize -- apologies to all the listeners out there who are, you know, wrote this line down in their note taking. [editor's note: the line is, "...that time has softened into a hostile relationship."]
It's not even on the Golden Girls wiki, so.
Haha! But it's just great. I think it's just a perfect way, you know, where he's talking about, he's like, 'well was it the first guy to ever go through a midlife crisis and react that way?' She's like, 'probably not, but you were the first one I was married to.' And it's again, it's such a mature way of thinking about this. And it really reminds me of like, the advice when you know, people are comparing themselves -- their troubles to other people's troubles, and saying like, 'Oh, well, you know, I'm going through this but like my life isn't quite as bad as that' or whatnot and you're like, 'Okay, but but this is what you're going through right now.' Right? Like it's okay to not negate the fact that you're feeling a certain way in your situation, right? So I'm sure like, anybody who's divorced is like, 'Oh, well, you're not the first one.' You know, 'men are scum.' 'Your husband left you,' all that kind of stuff. Like 'you're not the only one' And it's like, yeah, but this is my -- the only time I've gone through this, right. It's like validating -- Dorothy's validating her feelings here and not saying that like, okay, just because statistically, this might be likely, it doesn't mean it hurt any less.
Yeah! And you know, what I think is -- maybe I'm a little bit jaded because of, you know, the time we're in now -- but I think I just realized that it's probably a really big deal, to have the woman have been able to sort of like, revisit this temporarily and then realize like, emotionally, it's not right. And also not even that it's not right, that she doesn't want to do it. Right. Like there's, there's a bit of conflict with Dorothy because she doesn't want to hurt him, but I don't don't really feel like she's ever considering getting back together with him in a real way. And that's really powerful. I think like, you know, we are kind of more used to seeing a woman in that role now, definitely, but at the time and especially, you know, when you have jokes, like, he can't do his laundry, and he, you know, is just like so desperate for a woman to take care of him -- it's really conflicting to that, and it's nice to see that very, you know, we've talked about the feminist, the feminist pillars of this show before and this is another one.
Absolutely, absolutely. I think also the, to your point of how she never really is going to get back with him but she's conflicted because you know, because their shared history and all that kind of stuff, and where she's at in her life where he you know, he makes this big speech about 'we could always do this thing,' 'you always wanted to open an antique shop,' you're like, okay, slow down, buddy. We just banged once. But, you know, she's talking Dorothy is talking it out with Rose, and with Blanche. Which, also by the way, again -- with the table spread of like the food they have until they just decided like, you know, narrow it down and focus on cheesecake most of the time -- there's this enormous jar of spreadable mustard. I just noticed, it's like this beacon, you're just like, Who decided that this was the thing? Anyway, she's talking it over and just talking it out. And she says, you know, I'm not -- basically, I'm not going to get back with him, and I didn't realize that until just now. And again, that was perfect. Because it's like, that's why you talk things out with your friends. Like this is how it happens. Like you already kind of had a decision, but you had to vocalize it. They didn't even really spur her on at all. Obviously, they have their little opinions, but it wasn't just like, Well, I think you should, I think you should do this, I think you should do that. All that kind of stuff. But she just comes to the conclusion by herself. She's like, Oh, okay. I -- as soon as I heard it come out of my mouth, like, now I realized that's exactly how I feel. Which is really cool.
Yeah, I wrote that it is kind of like -- so she gets home, they're like, 'we didn't want to waste any time, the food's already on the table.' And this continues to establish the dining room table as like the Situation Room of their house, right? Like, this is where they go and they have their conversations. And I love it like it's it really, you know, obviously like it's a very long running thing, but I like how now they're all sort of like owning it -- like it doesn't seem to be happenstance that they're all at the table. And so I wrote down like, this is -- we are still, we still haven't heard 'St. Olaf' yet. But we're starting to get into the stories because Rose tells that story about Eddie Parker, the 'Aqua Midget,' which is his official title.
Oh my god. Unbelievable.
Yeah, which is interesting, because that's gonna -- that topic of little people is gonna come up very soon. Rose has a lot of experience.
I do wonder if like they wrote this bit. There's somehow making 'midget' jokes because that was, you know, in vogue, again, much like heart -- organ transplants in the 80s. But like the, like, I wonder if they wrote this sort of sequence and then came up with the idea of for the next -- two episodes ahead.
Yeah! And when, while Rose is telling the story, Blanche is just like completely exhausted by it before it even starts. Their interaction together -- Blanche and Dorothy are laughing at her while the story is going on, you know, trying to be like subtle and whatever. But it's really funny and it really I think, like, you know, is a foreshadowing to every single time Rose tells a ridiculous story that is funny, like, 'your frickin cousin' or whatever. Like there are some of the girls just like, are recognizing the ridiculousness of the story while it's happening, instead of just being like mad that she's telling another story. And this is where -- I think where we see that for the first time.
Oh, it's great. And even earlier when she's telling a different story when they're talking about Hollywood and talking about acting. Blanche says -- I forget what Rose says but Blanche just is like -- Rose is setting up like you know, some dialogue or something and there's a huge pause, and Blanche just goes, 'What. did. he. say?'
Perfectly. The exhaustion in her voice is unbelievable. And it's just it's so palpable and Rose is totally clueless to, like, pick up the giant social signal that she does not give a shit. It's amazing.
It's so great. And then just to go back to the hotel room -- I know we're kind of jumping around a little bit -- but we have to talk about Chrissy. Because, so, she comes in and she's like, I want to, you know, be with you or whatever. And she calls him, in the timespan of like 15 seconds, she calls him Big Stan, which is so annoying and gross. And then she calls him Stick Man.
But Dorothy's retort to that and she's like, come on, Stick Man, you have to -- it's just so like, dripping with disdain, and -- ugh, she's just perfect.
It's incredible. That actress apparently was so -- so, again, a bit of like, real-life issues here. That actress had starred on -- I forget, I don't think it was Maude. She was somewhere acting with Bea Arthur and she was playing -- I completely forget which, you know, show, forgive me -- but she was playing essentially the same kind of role where she's, like, you know, the younger woman, that kind of thing, very bubbly or at least, somehow when they rubbed up against each other, like Bea just decided she did not like this woman. I think her name is Simone Griffith. And so she plays, you know, this like other younger woman here and it's interesting because again, as we mentioned last episode, Bea Arthur's mother and Betty White's mother both passed away and then they handled this really, really heavy two-episode streak actually of talking about like your parents potentially dying, right? So it's -- your mother potentially dying. And this episode is really focused on divorce, again, and this is right after you know, Bea Arthur's divorce was somehow -- somewhat recent. So it's interesting, that the director was talking about how this was like the hardest one that he worked on since the one when Bea's mother died, because it's like real life things. And then of course, like, they have this woman who Bea Arthur doesn't like already, and then she's coming in playing the role of the other woman. And even that actress Simone was like, I was kind of like, uh oh, what's gonna happen? She's like, she was super professional about it, but it was obviously like, you know, you can't separate -- as good of an actress as you are -- you can't really separate that you're gonna like go through something through this character. Actually, that's probably a sign of being a better actress than most is how, you know, emotionally tied you are to that person. So it's just another instance of like, real life mashing up against the show.
Yeah, she played her daughter-in-law, actually, on Amanda. It looks like, so. I mean, I think that that was probably you know, I have not seen that show. But it it seems like it was sort of a contentious relationship too. So you know, as you're coming into this, there was some of that carrying over, too.
Absolutely, absolutely. Oh, it's so great -- but and again, the whole thing with Stan and he's just such a desperate motherfucker.
Oh my god -- he's so -- I wrote that he's a little bit more redeeming in this one, then obviously, like, the first, like the other times to see him but he's still -- he makes a compelling case for Dorothy when he's like falling back in love with her allegedly. But it's so superficial, like, that his reaction to sleeping with her is like order a bunch of flowers from her living room when she's -- like, they're not gonna hear you five steps away. But yeah, he's so pathetic.
So ridiculous. But she, you know, Dorothy says, 'I'm not the same woman you walked out on two years ago,' and I think that's fantastic. It's like, he shows no growth whatsoever. He's just bouncing back and forth. He's like, well, if I can't have my poor decision, you know, youthful relationship because she walked out on me, let me go back to the only other woman who might be desperate enough to take me back, and Dorothy's like, you know, I might have before but like not anymore. Like, I've moved on with my life, I've grown, and it's so funny because -- It's interesting. I just rewatched 'Something's Gotta Give.' Have you seen that?
Oh, I love that! Yeah it's so good. Anything with old people.
Exactly, exactly. I know, this is why -- this is, oh my gosh, we're such good friends, it's so perfect. So that movie is Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton kind of falling in love and surprising themselves, because Diane Keaton is divorced because her husband is going to marry this woman who's like basically the same age as her daughter. And Jack Nicholson has been a lifelong bachelor, you know, and he's always just been skeevy and dating younger women. So there's this whole, you know, dynamic of what is the very stereotypical arrangement as in this show with Stan and Chrissy and Dorothy. But Frances McDormand plays Diane Keaton's sister, and she has this whole speech at a dinner scene one time where she talks about, you know, divorced women or older women, right? Who the men leave because you know, they're not young anymore. They're not attractive physically. And then she says how the women get more and more interesting, because they're not distracted with these like douchey men, basically, so. It's kind of interesting, because like here it's the same idea, like Dorothy's like, I'm not the same woman, like, I've grown so much in just the past few years and like, you know, Chrissy never taught you a thing. You still are terrible at sex. Among other things.
Yeah, it is so great. She's she really I wrote that down, too, like, I'm so proud of her for having this moment and for like, sort of in contrast with the last time she got to say what she wanted to say, this feels much more -- there's not as much like torture in it, you know? It feels more -- satisfaction and also just like, more sure, like it seems like before she was kind of doing it because she knew it was the right thing to do and she had to, and maybe didn't really want to, but in this, like, I think it's really compelling and really inspirational, almost, that she knows she doesn't want him anymore. And -- and you know that's a real -- people can move on.
Yeah, exactly. Well, last time she got to get the anger out. But now she's faced with a whole whole different dilemma. Last time, it was just to tell him off. He wasn't on the table again as an offering, right? Like she gets to make the decision this time to reject him, which is huge.
Ugh, the best.
All right, you got anything else?
No, I think that's it.
All righty. Well, join us next time when we discuss whether you'd prefer to live with your rich daughter who had servants, or a slut and a moron. Bye, everybody.