We take a look at the 12th episode of the Golden Girls, which has us exploring the complexity of sibling rivalry and relationships as Gloria swoops into town. After a minor spat with Dorothy over her lack of social life, Sophia contemplates leaving her life with a slut and a moron to join her daughter who visits once a year in her mansion in Burt Convy's neighborhood.
Below is the Enough Wicker podcast transcript for Episode 12: If Everybody Wants You, Why Isn't Anybody Callin'?, analyzing The Golden Girls Season 1 episode, The Custody Battle :
Hello and welcome to Enough Wicker, a podcast where two friends who are basically like sisters gab about their favorite TV show, The Golden Girls. I'm Lauren.
And I'm Sarah.
And today we're tackling the 12th episode in the series, The Custody Battle. We meet Gloria!
Yes, exactly. More family affairs. Very exciting.
Mmm hmm. So, um, you know, Gloria is here. I also -- Sophia's back to looking a little bit ragged, and I feel like she's a little bit -- she's pretty mean in this episode right away.
Oh, yeah, she definitely is. It's -- I mean, it sets up the whole like they're kind of having a spat or a longer fight or, you know, they're wearing on each other, type of thing, sets up the whole drama for the 'battle.' But yeah, it is -- it is kind of irritating.
Yeah, so she's like, right away, I noticed that she's just harassing Dorothy about getting a date. But, you know, and I guess that's already pretty mean. But it's mean -- she's like, well, it's not like you have a date tonight or any day, and it's like, whoa!
I know. Chill out, man. Aren't you proud of her for rejecting her ex-husband, the yutz?
She just slept with him! Give her a minute! But I do love that Dorothy never wavers and you know continues to know her worth. So Sophia is like, harassing her about never having a date. And Dorothy's response, which is just so simple and so true, and I wish so many more women would take this as their life philosophy -- She's like, 'when I find someone worth going out with, I'll go out with him.' And yeah, that's it!
That's it. That's that's the whole thing. That's what you need to do. But it's also funny because, again, with this whole, you know, running argument that they have, which again, as we said, Dorothy's clearly in the right here, it really just -- it smacks of the triangle episode where like, Dorothy and Blanche have like a little tiff and then it's like, MOVE OUT! Oh my God! It's the same thing here. It's like, Gloria shows up right on time. Yeah, I'm just gonna move out. I'm not gonna like talk to you about it at all. It's stupid. But to be fair, you know, I mean, Gloria does have servants, so it sounds like a pretty sweet gig.
Oh yeah, I'm ready to bring Gloria down a peg.
All right, let's do it!
So -- well first of all, before Gloria gets there, -- first of all, we haven't really gone into the fashion of this show. But Blanche's dress in the first scene where she walks in this episode is so great, I love it. I would buy it now. It, you know, like you touched on this before but there's more jewelry exchanging in this series than like anything I've ever seen.
They only have, like, four pieces of jewelry. It rotates. This is another fun fact, which I'm sure you know, is that you know Rue McClanahan wrote into her contract that she got to keep all of the fashion from this show.
I don't think I don't think I've included the jewelry -- the four pieces. But definitely the dresses, which is great.
Yeah. And so also before Gloria gets there, we've talked about dated references that are somehow still funny. But when they're talking about Jane Pauley, who at the time was the host of the Today Show, and is now on CBS Sunday Morning, and I love her. And Rose is, like, speculating about whether or not Jane Pauley can stand up, and says, 'maybe Willard just has to carry her around the set' because you know, TV anchors always sitting at a desk. It's so cute, it's so, like, innocent Rose, assuming that the TV anchors are never standing.
Seriously. And again, like, again, the date reference just from Jane Pauley alone, but the fact that it's like a TV anchor. Yeah, like it's such a different format. It's amazing. Also, another funny clarification of -- is when Blanche comes in and she's talking about she goes, 'Macbeth' and then she goes, 'in Mr. William Shakespeare's masterpiece Macbeth.' Oh, that Macbeth, thank you for clarifying. Did they feel like the audience wouldn't understand this literary reference? I don't know. It cracked me up.
Yeah, there's a lot of community theater in the series. So it's, um, you know, we're seeing the roots of that here, I guess. Yeah. And I love Blanche is asking, so when she's asking for jewelry she's also asking for, for makeup, I think? And then, you know, like some, they start talking about something else, and then they don't get it and then somebody brings it back and Blanche is like, 'Oh, why paint the peacock?' and it's just so -- it's so perfect. So she's very confident she's going to get to play Lady Macbeth.
Absolutely, absolutely. Cuz 'I got this part in the sack.' 'You mean in the bag!'
She means in the sack. Which comes up yet again. Which is so fantastic. So all right, so so Gloria gets there.
So Gloria gets there, blow it out your ditty bag, first of all. So Gloria gets there amid this tension with Dorothy and Sophia, with kind of no real root, it's just that they're sort of getting on each other's nerves, which I also think is pretty accurate. Like, you know, like resentments in short periods, not like long terms. But I think that happens a lot, in any relationship is like, you'll get a little annoyed about one thing and then it's like, every annoying thing that person does is just like, so much worse, and you feel the need to point it out. And I feel like that's where they are. They're just like, butting heads with no, like, there's no deep-rooted issue, I guess that we're coming up with.
Oh, yeah. Yeah, it's like it's the 'bitch eating crackers' thing.
But it's also interesting too, because, you know, we've had this dynamic with again, 'I haven't seen my sister in a long time' with Virginia with Blanche in the Transplant, and they have you know, we talked a lot about how they have such a weird family tension and competition, etc., etc. And it's a similar thing here, but it's -- it's complicated by the fact that the mother is present, right? Like she's in between and you know, before Gloria even gets there, you know, Dorothy says Ma, she calls you three times a year when she -- when Sophia is talking about how many, you know, dates Gloria is going on and all this other stuff. And you know, she's just making excuses for the other siblings. And that's a total other natural reaction. Obviously, as we pointed out, Sophia is being pretty mean here, and being very direct about like this -- your sister's better than you! And except poor Phil, you know, he's never better than anybody.
But, but it's, it's, uh, it's very interesting, because it's like you of course, you would get pissed off, of course, you would carry all of these weird tensions from before and have a fucking complex, because your mother's literally like, you know, just worshiping your sibling and you're like, 'what am I chopped liver?' Like you're sitting off to the side.
Yeah. And then I think fuels the competitiveness between Dorothy and Gloria. And I wrote I noted like, neither one of us have sisters. So, and I do think the dynamic with brothers is different, but Michelle has two sisters and I think like I am obviously very close to that. And I do think the competitive slash sort of like keeping-up-with-the-Joneses theme is much stronger in -- not all the time, I assume but -- same gender, sibling relationships, like there's a lot of pressure to, you know, because you can theoretically measure your life on so many similar levels.
Right, right. Exactly. I mean, I didn't even think about that. That's fantastic. The -- sorry, skipping ahead to like when Gloria shows up and she brings presents, like immediately. Like it's this -- it's again, it's like a natural thing, I guess, you would do. But it just sets the tone immediately, right? For who she is. She's like not even -- she's at the hotel. She's not even staying, you know, with them, all that kind of stuff. They have an argument. I also -- I also love the presents thing, where it's like a TV gimmick to save time, I get it, where she's like, open these! This is what they are. It just cracks me up. So again, it's just like this, you know, again, like you were saying -- the sister -- you can compare yourself on so many fronts and you're already irritated slash nervous about your sister coming, because your mother's like, so excited about it and you are feuding with her. But then your sister immediately walks in and just tries to buy her off.
Yeah. And so -- Gloria comes in for like -- It's, you said this but, so Sophia sort of guilts her about staying in a hotel. Yeah, but then later, they talk about how Gloria arrived in a limo, which is just so excessive and so -- so she's, she's arriving in a limo. Why wouldn't she stay at like the Ritz Carlton? And honestly, if you're staying at the Ritz Carlton, you wouldn't want to stay at 5161, you'd be like, 'No, thank you. I'm, I'll be much more comfortable at my fancy hotel.' So
Exactly. Or fuck, you know, once you get a room at the Ritz for your mother? And your sister while you're at it?
She's so rude. It's so -- so like Dorothy and Gloria. I mean, they actually seem pretty okay, right. Like they're sort of excited to see each other. But when they're -- when Gloria is in Dorothy's room and they're having this conversation. And Gloria is sort of talking about all reasons that Dorothy could resent her and she's weighing in -- she's like, 'not even because I'm really rich and you're really poor' or 'because all of my --'
'Even though my children are professionals and yours aren't?' It's like how many other places can you hit her?
I mean, jesus christ Gloria, it's excessive. And it's funny because the actress plays it so well, as the sort of like light-hearted like 'even though this,' 'even though that' -- like she actually like does it in almost a warm way until you're like, what, what, who talks to people like this? Get out of here! Also, the practicing professional thing just reminds me of Dennis, the podiatrist, too, where you're just like, oh, well, my son in law is barely a practicing professional. He's only a podiatrist.
And Michael, we haven't even heard about Michael yet -- that fuck up.
Oh, man. I know -- that fuck-up that really should be 45 except he's 23.
He's also 30 later? I don't know.
Yeah. It's amazing.
But so, so Dorothy's dealing with this like, really complex issue in her family and, you know, she's fighting with her mom and her sister who like is the 'Gloria Gloria Gloria', like the perfect, you know, model sister. And then of course Rose comes in with, like, these tales of her perfect childhood on the farm. Like the Christmases and like how they would all gather around the tree. And it's really funny cause Dorothy, you know, like is so just like, oh god, and it's like another -- it's like almost a St. Olaf story. You know, like it goes on too long. There are too many unknown details. And then they're walking out and Rose -- they're at one point leaving the kitchen and Rose starts again, with like, 'this reminds me of when daddy would take us to go get hamburgers,' and Blanche just like slams the door in her face. It's so good.
Totally. Dorothy's like, who's your father? Michael Landon?
That's one we get!
But it really -- But it totally like rings true. Again, I -- there's so many people where -- and it's not just with family dynamics but definitely with family dynamics -- but just other parts about life where somebody could just completely be clueless and go on and on about how perfect 'X' about their life is and how wonderful it is while talking to someone who literally at that moment is going through the opposite, you know? I feel like there's so many times -- and even I catch myself sometimes, too, I have -- I have no complaints about my childhood, just Williamsburg, Virginia's vacation didn't really nail you know, the 14 year old me, but that's not my parents fault, that's me being a crummy teenager -- but um, you know, my life is awesome. And it's like I also want to be aware, too, of like, well, you just naturally want to share details that relate to people, right? That's why like, like, we're talking about family, and then Rose is like let me tell you about my family! You're like you're so frickin' clueless to bring up like, everything was wonderful for us. But, of course, she's embellishing because, you know, they had their farm problems, too, but, but it also was just one of those things where you're just like, come on, man. Like the last thing she needs to hear right now is like how perfect your relationship was, because she's literally telling you that she's struggling with hers.
Yeah. And we see Dorothy, like, you know, she's pretty open with the girls, but she and Sophia aren't able to address it and they're not able to address it because they both are being stubborn, right? Like it's not like a weird uncomfortableness. Like at one point, so Gloria decides that she wants Sophia to come live with her -- which is also like, so annoying. Like you never call her, you never visit, also, why are you never visiting if you're so rich? I don't understand, Gloria. But so now she wants Ma, too, and like so she asks her to come do it -- and instead of Dorothy being able to be like, 'I don't want you to leave,' she's like, 'if you need any help packing, let me know.' And it's it was like a big like, roll my eyes moment. It's like, Oh my god, you guys are being so silly.
Totally. Totally, but honestly even before that -- that part's a bit ridiculous. But when she is talking, when Dorothy is talking to Gloria, right after her 'even though even though even though' when they're when they're talking in the bedroom, the conversation flows really naturally. And it actually divulges so much background information about the characters that just -- it feels normal. And it leads up to this whole thing about Sophia leaving, right that Dorothy and her can't talk about in you know, in any way that normal person would talk about it. I just think it's fascinating that it's like -- that it's really good writing to make it feel natural, even though again, they just have to cram in this whole ridiculous premise of Gloria sort of 'stealing' Ma, you know, in 23 minutes or what not.
And Sophia, like what you were talking about when she says, 'help packing' or what not. When she goes, 'I'll do that.' And it's like this really dramatic, like pull-out of the camera on Sophia, where she's like in her room by herself. It's like such a painful moment.
Yeah, they're so unable to, like, really say like what they want to say, because they're both being so stubborn about it. It's so ridiculous. And I love when Dorothy tells the other girls that Sophia is gonna move, right? So it's like this really -- and they're, they're shocked and they're like, 'well, you can't let her' and Dorothy is like, 'well, what am I gonna like?' I can't -- you know, she's just so defeated by it, but also coming back to that point that like, she's a grown woman and she can decide whatever she wants.
Mm hmm. Exactly. And the -- you know, they actually say like, who's gonna tell us stories about Sicily? which is interesting, because we've only heard one like, direct callout story about Sicily, right? Like clearly this is gonna be a thing, just like St. Olaf stories -- like St. Olaf hasn't been mentioned yet, but like they're still St. Olaf stories as part of Rose's character. I thought was an interesting like allusion, little, little nod to like, what's gonna come up ahead or who the Sophia character's supposed to be.
Yeah, they they really recycled this big arc of, like, somebody deciding to move out, like either Sophia is going to take care of one of her kids or she's moving out because she's fighting with Dorothy, or Rose is moving out because she wants to be with her new friends, like, you know that -- they they really kind of like work that angle a lot.
They really do, you're right -- oh my gosh, it's so funny. Actually, even in the first season, like, there's at least three sort of threats to move. Which is just interesting to cover. Like, does this happen this much? How's the real estate market?
I mean Blanche is engaged twice, like, so I don't know, I guess it could be realistic. So yeah, so they're kind of going back and forth, and and we also do -- you'd mentioned this before, but we hear about Phil a little bit more. There's still no mention of like the 'big thing' about Phil, which is that he likes to wear girls clothes, but it's mentioned that he played with matches. So it seems like they're not totally sure what they're going to do with with him. But they -- they want you to know, like it's been mentioned a few times, like he's the bad kid. He's like the black sheep.
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Yeah. And it's funny the, the Gloria being the baby, right where Dorothy talks about her sort of torturing her to tell her that, like, you know that she's not part of the family and like there's, you know, she's scaring her at night and everything like that. They actually have a couple of sweet moments of the reminiscing about like, the exciting -- like, even when Dorothy announced her, like my sister Gloria! like she does have a like, there's there's somewhat of that complicated sibling relationship. She might drive you frickin nuts, but you have really nice shared memories together. Even if it's bonding over the fact that, like, Phil was a weirdo. Your brother was strange.
Yeah. And what was it? Oh, Rose. This is sort of unrelated to that. But when they're talking about their childhoods, Rose is talking about her imaginary friend. She says, like, her imaginary friend wouldn't tell her his name, and he's just like, very like, sort of similar to how she had like the perfect childhood. Like, of course, she had an imaginary friend who wouldn't tell her his name. It's like -- it's very on brand.
But I just wanted to go back to B story really quickly, because that's also funny. So Blanche is, like, convinced that she has the part of Lady Macbeth. Obviously because she --
in Mr. William Shakespeare's masterpiece, Macbeth. Just in case you forgot.
Like sweet little Rose has to tell her that she's witch number two.
No, number three!
Ah, you're right!
But this also kicks off, right, like we've like have this whole acting career, right? Or it's just like the hobbies of these ladies that it's so exciting that we're going to see more of this coming up and you know, for even even Dorothy, too, which is so funny. But, but yeah. Blanche goes, 'I have been had' and Dorothy goes, 'I know. And you still didn't get the part.' It's just fantastic.
So good. So when they do so finally, you know, Dorothy and Sophia make up and it's, you know, obviously Sophia does not go live with Gloria. But there is, like, a funny moment at the end, too, when they -- what is it? Sophia's giving them gifts or something, but it's like revealed that she's stolen all of this stuff from them? And the stuff she stole was so, like, on you know -- lined up nicely with the the characters. And then Rose is like, I wonder if she's seen my umbrella with the duck handle, which is perfect.
Exactly. You know exactly what umbrella it is, too.
Exactly. Yeah. Like we believe that she would have it.
But then, but then Blanche is missing an ankle bracelet?
It is, but also, would Sophia take an ankle bracelet? That part really struck me, like, okay, we're veering off now.
But it's similar to what we talked about a couple episodes back, how she sort of gets away with cheating at games, because it's just funny and cute and it's like, yeah, if you had someone in your house who was gonna -- so when she's gonna move, when she's giving them a gift, and you know, like somebody that you love and they're leaving and you're sad that they're leaving. And they give you gifts and you're like, hey, this is mine. You initially are like, a little thief, but she's just so cute that you're like, all right.
Exactly. And like, all right, time to search her room again.
But yeah, the it is a very, it's a very sweet ending, right? They have, you know, like, when when Dorothy and Gloria are talking about, you know, Gloria says, 'this is not what Ma wants,' you know, and Dorothy had said, like, 'you have everything -- do you have to have Ma, too?' And they also have this argument as sisters of saying, like, who was the favorite, right? Like you said, we were talking about Phil playing with matches. Clearly it's not Phil. So the competition is only between the two of them. And it's just very, it's just a very sweet moment where Gloria is talking about, you know, 'your life just seems so much more important than mine' to Dorothy and because it is. It's like, it's not superficial. It doesn't matter. You know, Bert Convey shops in your grocery store, but that's about as exciting as life gets, and servants and a big house, in California and all this other stuff. But it is really funny, because at the end, like Dorothy, clearly after Gloria kind of pours her guts out a little bit to her, when when Dorothy is about to go talk to Sophia. She's like, are you okay? Are you going to be okay? To Gloria. And she's like, I'm fine. I've got what I need. And you're also just like, man, you could do a whole side show about how Gloria is actually not okay. Living in this mansion, just having the most superficial life.
Yeah, it's like her psychological profile would be really interesting. It's like -- and she says like, the only ambition, I mean, she doesn't say this outright, but it's it's definitely implied that the only ambition her parents had for her was to marry rich.
No, they said, she said it outright. Like she goes, 'Ma looked at you and saw a wonderful future, and looked at me and said I should marry rich'.
And then she's like, 'which I did -- very rich.' So she let you know that she's super rich.
We get it, we get it.
Also why didn't you give Sophia the 1200 dollars to go to Sicily, GLORIA?!
Yeah, damn it! You're right! They gotta have a whole bowling tournament? Give me a break. But yeah, it's yeah it's interesting cause it's like, they sort of drop that there and it's like, okay, quickly resolve the Gloria thing -- we don't care about her, we have to go back to, you know, the girls we care about which obviously makes sense, but goddamn, it's rough.
This is a funny one, though. I do like this one a lot. I think that sometimes the family ones, which I -- maybe it's just in the first season that it's so heavy on guests, but we'll see as we go on. I guess I never realized like there's always someone else and a lot of the time it's a family story, which makes sense when I think about how many relatives I know, but I just, you know, watching them all in a row. It sort of hammers it home.
I think it's interesting because, you know, it would make sense that there's a lot of visitors to come visit them. Because you know, if your parents, your mother lives apart from you, like, you're going to come visit, if you're a kid, or you know, obviously it makes sense, like, 'oh, I'm marrying this guy,' or 'I'm having troubles' or that kind of thing. But yeah, there's so many guests, which again, it keeps it fresh, of course, but it's just it's funny because it's almost like, I get when people like, come to New York a lot, right? Or maybe LA a lot, but it's like, people are always passing through Miami. It's really funny, you know. But again, this is this one makes sense, it's your daughter visiting, which is again, she calls three times a year like you better visit. God damn, your mother's in her 80s and she had a stroke! What the hell's wrong with you? It's hysterical. But yeah, this one is really funny. Also, just a few other notes -- like, when they're having the conversation where Rose is talking about how amazing her her family is and everything. They're just like this tiny weird, like, tree or like tiny bush on the kitchen floor that's really distracting. It's, like, right against the wall where the phone is. So you can't really see because it's like where Dorothy is sitting in the middle of the table. It's like blocked, but it distracted the hell out of me. Much like the giant thing of mustard on the previous episode.
Yeah, they haven't gotten the snacks down. I definitely noted in another episode, Blanche is eating olives right out of the jar, which speaks more to me than cheesecake, so I was happy about that.
Exactly, exactly. This is another episode, too, where like there's so many more tuxedo nightgowns, like that Dorothy wears. It's amazing. I just -- I love that it's so cute because it does remind me of like my grandmother wearing these like very ornate nightgowns, like this is my specific night gown wear. But then it just takes the next level when it's a tuxedo shirt for Bea Arthur.
I googled 'tuxedo nightgowns' because now I'm interested. But you can't get them the way they used to make them, you know?
Well, you know, like, Blanche never wore them so they weren't in the Rue McClanahan collection. So I wonder what happened to the ones that Bea Arthur actually wore. It's amazing. But yeah, no, this one is great. It's really funny. And it's, you know, it's heartwarming, like, I love the part at the end where Sophia says, like, 'you know, most people my age have children who are trying to get rid of them.' And, you know, it's just, it's a really, it's a good mark of a good family and a healthy relationship, despite the fact that they had a tiff and she was going to move across the country for, you know, because her daughter doesn't want her haranguing her about dates. But, but it's a good, it's a good earmark for that age, right? Where you talking about, like, 'oh my relationship with my parents or my siblings' or whatnot, but like for mother that age of having, you know, your kids want to take care of you and want to be in your life as opposed to the' you know, what of course she's very pissed about, which is, like, leaving you in an old folks home, right? Like that's a -- that's a very different end of life story that a lot of people have, and I appreciate the acknowledgement of how that's sort of special.
Yeah, no, I agree. And I think it does, you know like Gloria is annoying and she's showy and all these things, but ultimately, like, she wants to spend more time with Sophia and she wants to have a good relationship with Dorothy, right? Like she doesn't -- she's not there to throw it in Dorothy's face. It's just like is how -- it is who she is. And she kind of confesses to that, and I think that it's a pretty -- it is really heartwarming and it's a pretty realistic, I think, depiction of, like, subtle, you know, old resentments and old tapes playing, but also, you know, trying to move forward and forge family relationships that are like, actually meaningful, and not just sort of out of obligation. And I feel like Gloria, you know, kind of toes that line because she she's not so present, and then she comes in and she wants to deliver this, like, whole new lifestyle to Sophia. It's kinda, like, cheap but overall, you know, her intentions are good.
Yeah, exactly. You can't separate the fact that like, all right, you have sort of these like 'not getting along with your sister but also like you can't help but look up to her' you know? It's that complex, like you said, forging a true relationship as an adult while you still carry with you everything from your childhood.
And you said 'look up to' and that's a perfect segue to the next one!
Well yes, you could join us next time when we discuss how mocking little people in 1980 situational comedies attempts to come off as endearing. See you later, everyone.