In our 13th episode, we take a look at a great love story that never was--Rose Nylund and Dr. Jonathan Newman. Dorothy and Blanche stumble through dinner with this esteemed doctor who also happens to be a little person.
Below is the Enough Wicker podcast transcript for Episode 13: Shrimp, Short Ribs, and a Psychic to the Stars, analyzing The Golden Girls Season 1 episode, A Little Romance :
Hello and welcome to Enough Wicker, a podcast where we discuss the smallest teeny tiniest details about the best show ever, The Golden Girls. I'm Lauren.
And I'm Sarah.
And today we're tackling the 13th episode in the series, A Little Romance. It's Dr. Jonathan Newman's big debut! His one episode arc!
And what an episode. This, as we mentioned before, two episodes back, they already had talked about the 'Aqua Midget' and had made an awful lot of little people jokes. And it's interesting that they're like, 'let's stretch this further into an entire episode.'
Yeah, double down on that. That seemed like it'll age well.
Exactly. fascinatingly, this episode won an Emmy for the writing. Which I mean, I don't disagree with, it -- actually it's written very well. It is like, it really does manage to be somewhat endearing, although a lot of the jokes are clearly at the expense of little people -- and obviously calling them midgets is not exactly, uh, it's a bit uncouth, even then. But the actor, you know, like the actor and also the character of Dr. Jonathan Newman, like play it off so well and similar to what we were talking about with the Jewish doctor, where he sort of just deflects Sophia's like, 'oh, how come all these doctors are Jewish?' And you're just like, yeah, yeah, yeah, I'm used to it, right? Like they really hammer home this like, um, you know, minority person in society of being like, I am used to people treating me this way. And I choose to be above it. And I also like, you know, you don't understand, but it's okay. I can handle me, you know, it's pretty fascinating. And it also was pretty funny.
Yeah. And I think also so I think logistically, there's probably a reason for this, but Sophia is not really in it, right? Like, so, at the beginning of the episode, which I think they -- she's not really in it. At the beginning the episode, she travels to Canada and we're hearing about Big Sally for the first time, although she's not named. Phil's wife --
She's not referred to as Big Sally, exactly.
Who drinks like drinks a bunch of beer and has 10 kids. And you know, Sophia is like very annoyed that she has to go visit Phil and his wife, because their child is graduating animal grooming school.
Can we talk about the 10? Kids? Yeah. So, she, she goes, they got 10, you know, too bad she -- 'My son married a welder. Too bad she didn't weld his zipper shut, they got 10 kids they can't afford.' And everybody laughs, and it's like, 'oh, you're exaggerating, 10 kids, that's funny.' And then like the next line, Dorothy's, like, 'the six boys are giving up their bedroom for you.' And you were like, wait, what? He really does have 10 kids?
I mean, my mom has 12 siblings and all -- you know, at one point, there were five girls in the same bedroom. So like, I do think that's pretty fair.
There you go. It's very real, but it's like the only time it's mentioned. You're like where are all these nieces and nephews? I guess, I mean, one is an animal grooming school and flunked out, but I guess they don't travel very often.
So they get Rose, I mean, it gets Sophia out of the way -- Rose drives her to the airport. Sophia is leaking clam sauce out of her suitcase. But I think we have to get her out of the way because the reason that I think the jokes about Jonathan being a little person are able to sort of exist and not be so cringy is because they're all kind of by accident, like so it's like, you know, Blanche and Dorothy kind of stumbling over the fact that like, they're uncomfortable and they assume he's uncomfortable. And I think the Sophia character, which you know, doesn't she doesn't do it to be mean, but I think like you couldn't have her there and have her not address it and just like be dropping, you know, like joke after joke after joke. So I think it was smart to have her not be in this one as much.
Well, then they it's the same thing with the Jewish doctor, right? She's gonna speak her mind. So she's gonna say something immediately, right? But what's great is that they invert that joke later, when she comes in and she goes, 'I hope this doesn't sound rude' and then everything is immediately tense, like, 'oh, Sophia,' you know, like Rose, like, oh my god and they're biting their fingers to just be, like, wincing. And she's just like, 'I'm tired. I have to go to bed. If you'll excuse me,' in like the most polite way to a guest, it's -- it's amazing. I think they really work with her character very well.
Yeah, yeah, I agree.
And then of course, like later, they have to get a punch in when like, you know, Rose is holding a pillow and she's like, 'we don't mind if he sleeps over.' Like they couldn't help themselves, right? Like you said, like Sophia has to say something direct.
Very perfect. So Rose is like seeing this guy secretly, right? Like, that's like the, the way that he -- he comes over is that Blanche just invites him, like, I assume she answered the phone and was talking to him. And Rose is really pissed off and like, yeah! Dorothy and Blanche, kind of like walking around, talking about like how they're setting up for dinner, like, it's so silly, like, it's so funny Rose is mad but she'll get over it but like that's a really crazy thing to do! To like -- answer the phone for someone you're --
It's pretty invasive.
-- casually dating and you're like, why don't you come over and meet the whole family?
Totally, totally, like you're not -- you're not ready for it. The teasing her about meeting him is very relatable -- like definitely your friend, your roommate, is dating a new man, you're like oh my god give me details, tell me, and she's not sharing them, right? So like, I get it -- I get the curiosity, I get the like, why don't you tell us about them? But yeah, it is it is funny and it goes back to you know this wonderful pre-cell phone situation, where when you call a house like you talk to other people often, like you can reach other people before you reach the intended caller, which we don't have anymore right? We're always just calling a cell phone and that's it. You're hardly calling landlines where you're like, 'don't know who I'm gonna get!' But, but yeah, it's like they do definitely cross the line, even though like you said it's played for laughs. But, you know, Rose handles it well. And obviously they just you know, hang themselves -- particularly Blanche -- with all this rope.
Yeah, so we have to talk about -- I want to spend some time talking about when he arrives, because that whole scene is just like -- it's so funny. And this is a funny episode. I wouldn't think of it off the top of my head is like one of the funniest ones, but that scene when he enters and Dorothy greets him and then Blanche comes in is maybe one of the funniest scenes, I think, in the series. So he comes and Dorothy is you know, kind of shocked and like trying to kind of, like --
After Blanche already slams the door in his face. Because she thinks it's the Donaldson boys, right, like they finally refer to the next door neighbors that are the unseen neighbors throughout the whole series.
Right! So maybe consider Dorothy's like, 'Oh, you know, I wish I could say the same' when he says that Rose has said so much about him.
I love that he introduces himself and she just goes, 'are you absolutely sure?'
Yeah. And it's another thing this show does really well, which is like, a reveal. Like, we get to see the characters like, sort of realizing like, 'oh my god, this is not what I expected.' And Blanche comes in and this is like where I feel like I start laughing as soon as she walks in. She's got this, like, giggle and she's like -- it's perfect.
'I just figured out what's going on here!'
'Get out of here.' But I love it. So like she has this, like, this sort of revelation and then it just ends, she's like, 'God, I wish I was dead' and it's so perfect.
I know! She looks to the side with her giggles, and everyone is straight faced, and it is amazing. Yeah, the 'god I wish I was dead.' No, that is, I mean that that obviously that whole scene, this whole part, like plays into why this episode won for writing, right? It really is -- it's embarrassing and like you said, it can't be done with Sophia in the room but they're just stumbling over themselves. They're having short ribs. She comes in says 'shrimp.' I mean, it's like, it's all these like really low pot-shot jokes, but somehow elevated to this like -- it feels like a highbrow comedy just because of the timing and because of the physicality of it and everything about it, it's it's incredible. And she you know, like later they're talking about what a fascinating man he is, you know, he is -- he's a great character. He's got his shit together. You know, again, like I said earlier, like he obviously ,you know, he has a different experience in life than these women, and most people, but he's very comfortable with himself and like, you know, he can freely admit that he you know, sometimes does wish he was taller, 'what it's like to be the center of the Boston Celtics.' Interesting aspiration. But well, you know, and he's doing well for himself because he went to Harvard and he takes vacations in Kenya, where he runs into his college roommate.
Yeah, he's kind of smug, honestly.
I mean, it is really funny, you know, and then Blanche you know, says like, Oh, 'he's just wearing the cutest little suit I've ever seen.' And Dorothy goes, 'you just can't help yourself, can you, Blanche?' Like it's -- it's fascinating. That whole package, the whole dinner scene, is amazing.
Yeah and Bea Arthur during Blanche's, like, tirade of giggles is just so like, she's stone faced but she's also like, secondhand embarrassment, and like wanting to reel Blanche in but knowing she can't, it's so -- the interactions between all of them, the unspoken interactions between all of them, are so good and it's so I think, like, that's one of the things that makes the show so good. And that's one of the things that takes a little bit of time. You know, it takes a little bit of time to find the footing there, but once they get it, it is untouchable.
Oh absolutely. Even though like actually what they say. Like when Blanche, goes like, 'I just made a fool out of myself, didn't I? And Dorothy just goes, 'Yes!' She's like holding her mouth. And like she just -- you could just feel it, just feel how awkward it is.
Yeah. And I like also. So speaking of, you know, related to why Sophia can't be there, and the reason that it works, and it doesn't feel -- it doesn't feel mean, right, like the girls being uncomfortable with it doesn't feel malicious. They address that and Blanche is like, you know, I can't, I don't want him to be uncomfortable. 'It would be unsouthern.' And if she's uncomfortable, she knows he'll be able to feel it. So and you know, and then he, Jonathan Newman and Blanche do have like a nice conversation where she does slip again. And he's like, you know, don't don't worry about it. Like, if you're -- just think of me as a person, and it won't be a problem. So there is like a nice, moral, you know, like, they all come to the same realization of, like, humanizing him but, but it's funny to watch them stumble through it, obviously.
Exactly. Right. And they acknowledge it, too. And even like that makes -- it reminds me in the beginning, too, when she's already totally flubbed everything -- God, she wishes she was dead -- And he's like, 'she's really uptight. I'm gonna have fun teasing her tonight.' You know, like, it's just like, he's like, we have to play with this. Like, he can't not talk about the elephant in the room or -- oh, good pun!
Oh my god, and okay, so another crazy unrealistic thing. So Rose has been out with this guy, like, a couple times. And now she thinks he's gonna propose? This is like another one of those, like, I know, it was a different time and I know they're older, but like, I don't think he's gonna propose, Rose.
Yeah, chill out.
So she's, like, nervous about that.
Yeah, there's an awful lot of just, marriages by the seat of your pants.
So she's gonna be like, very serious about her. And so she's sort of wondering if she can go on with this relationship that seems, like, you know, two very different people from very different backgrounds, which is sort of weird and kind of against the whole message, but -- I want us to talk about, I want us to talk about Blanche's story of a young man named Benjamin.
Oh, yeah. I'm meaning they're trying to -- yeah, they're really just trying to pull for the big, big cultural metaphor for America. But anyway, go ahead.
No, so I was gonna say like, Blanche goes off on this, like tirade, you know, and it's very like, Atlanta, you know, like, she's gonna break barriers, and she's gonna go to her senior prom with a boy she loves and she doesn't care what anyone says. And obviously, you know, you're expecting that there's like a big cultural divide. And so Dorothy kind of addresses that head on and it's like, whoa, you know, like, that must have been really tough. Did people feel differently just because Benjamin was Black? And Blanche just, like, can't believe that that's what the takeaway was, right? Like she's like, 'Benjamin wasn't Black, he was from New Jersey!'
What's fascinating. Yeah, first of all, it's yet another New Jersey knock.
He was a Yankee!
All over. Yeah, there's all over this series are like yankee knocks, but specifically New Jersey ones. I love it. Um, as you know, and as a reminder, Lauren and I are both from New Jersey, so really, it's extra prideful. But the best part is when Dorothy says that because 'Benjamin was Black,' the audience starts laughing. They already know that that's not what it is. It's so great. And I don't know if it's because they heard prior takes of this scene or anything, but it cracks me up because it's just like, you're already sort of like no, there's a better punch line than that. And of course, it's that he's from New Jersey. And it's like, Dorothy's like, 'I can't believe they made a movie about that deadbeat Gandhi when there's a story like this that hasn't been told.' And again, like, you know, Dorothy's mocking her and then, you know, Blanche kind of slaps her a little, like she knows. It's again, that knowledge that Blanche is pretty ridiculous, and she's aware of herself being pretty ridiculous in telling the story, in a way that like Rose never is -- like she's never self aware when she's telling these stories and how insane it is, but like Blanche has that perfect little play between like, she is a caricature, but she sort of knows it, you know, and it's it's amazing.
Yeah, the Gandhi line is so funny because it's another one of those, those instances where you think the punch line is just like the 'deadbeat Gandhi,' but then it keeps going and she never breaks -- like she's like, you know, 'there's a story like this that that hasn't been told.' And it's like, she's really you know, thinking this and it's just so Bea Arthur's GD genius.
It's incredible. Ha, 'GD genius!' Um, can we talk about the dream sequence?
Oh my god, so WEIRD. Yeah, we have to, though.
First of all, I love their dream personas, right? Like the, it's so fascinating. They were just like, okay, this is a ridiculous dream, because we already have a ridiculous premise. So it's gonna get weirder. And it's a Rose dream. So it's the weirdest possible dream, all these things, but just like, I'm fascinated by if there were directing notes or like how the writers conceived of it, or like, but you know, Blanche and Dorothy, mostly -- Sophia to somewhat of an extent, but not really, she sort of plays herself -- have these like, flamboyant caricatures of themselves, and like they act flamboyantly and do weird hand gestures have lilting in their voice and it's just hilarious, because it's just plays off of that, like, this is fantasy. This isn't quite reality. So you're not acting like yourself, but you sort of have to be what Rose imagines you to be, and I just love it. It's so bizarre.
Yeah, Blanche has the same inflection as like the Good Witch in The Wizard of Oz. I felt like like, 'you'll see!' Like it -- I feel like she must have studied that and it's like --
She's Glinda? That's amazing! You're right though. It's just like, no one talks like that.
Also very bizarre -- Rose's dad is like, like she's picturing her dad as a little person. And it's like --
And speaking of the Wizard of Oz, it was probably a guy that was on The Wizard of Oz.
And you know what a dated reference is? Jeanne Dixon, the psychic in this dream. So like, it's one of those things that, like, we have. I don't know that it's exactly come up before, but it will definitely come up again where somebody enters and you can, you know, they're famous because of the way that the audience reacts. But they're not anymore. So I googled Jeanne Dixon and I was like, oh, 'psychic to the stars,' of course.
Oh, yeah. But also like, what a guest pitch right? Guest star pitch for like Jeanne's like, 'Oh, I'd love to be on the Golden Girls.' You're like, 'Cool. Well, you're gonna be in this like, one and a half minute sequence where you're speaking rapid fire because it's in a dream and there's, like, little people and a lot of it's weird.' She's like, cool. I'm down. That works for me. 'And we're kind of mocking you.'
Yeah. Sophia dressed as the priest. I also love that -- it's just like, how many -- I feel like they just like threw everyone's name in a hat and like different things are like okay, you're gonna be the priest and you're gonna be the Good Witch -- like it's just so -- it's so crazy.
Seriously, it's amazing. Buh, but yeah, I mean it's, you know it's strangely works and it's it's definitely like a very Rose conclusion, like 'we can lick any problem big or small.' Also just like 'licking a problem' is like the most hopelessly dated language, even for this era, it cracks me up. But also the -- it's funny when Rose wakes up from the dream, like she's moaning like it's a sex dream. Like it's so funny -- like we talked -- well, actually, no, we haven't talked about it yet with like, we will talk about Rose, you know, In a Bed of Rose's in a few episodes. Where it's like talking about like 'dream sounds' or 'sex sounds' kind of thing. But it just cracks me up, they come in they're like, oh, what's wrong? and she's actually kind of moaning in like sort of pleasure. But clearly something's wrong, she fell asleep with her high heels on her bed.
Also, there's like, there's a cat pillow in the room, as well as a ceramic cat sculpture in the room, I noted. And it's just like, I guess it plays off this you know, as we when we meet Rose for the first time in a flashback. You know, she has a cat, Mr. Peepers, but also like it's just a weird like -- I guess she's the animal person, yes, but just like the 'cat lady' doesn't quite fit with who she is. She should have like barnyard animals in the decorations.
I can see that being, like, an in development character trait, because I think you could make the case that Rose is like really into it like into cats in particular, but I think it just evolves and becomes sort of like a higher -- a wider -- scope of animal interests.
Exactly, as well as you know, Dreyfus, the dog being her favorite animal friend.
Yeah. And the dog who daved everyone in the fire, including the cat, who we never really liked.
Oh, God, and then you know so, so Rose, you know, meets up with Jonathan, she thinks it's gonna be marriage, that whole thing -- when he says that he can't marry her because she's not Jewish.
He can't even date her because she's not Jewish.
Alright, I'm sorry. Yes, exactly. Marriage is off the table. You are correct. It's not anything to do with anything. Just like can't date her. Her face drop at that moment is wonderful. It's just so funny. Where she is in disbelief, like, she plays it so well, including the fact that, like, she should somewhat be offended. From a religious standpoint. It is -- It's awesome. And also like, the waiter in that whole scene where, like, her the closing zinger of the entire episode is like a sex joke about 'having' a little person and having the shrimp, 'How was the shrimp?' And it's like, the way the waiter reacts? It's just like, oh my god, it's a perfect natural reaction. It's just like, what the fuck? They better leave me a good tip. None of this is worth this. It's amazing.
Yeah, it's a funny scene and also like when Rose is like, 'they're all staring at you!' and he's like, 'I'm a very snappy dresser!' It comes back to that whole, like, he's very comfortable with it. And also like, you know, if you're really gonna be invested in dating someone, nothing like that matters. But of course, it's not gonna work out if you're not both Jewish, so.
Exactly, exactly. But it's interesting, like, that she, actually -- the topic of him, like he's comfortable with himself, but the topic that is obviously on the Rose side of her not being comfortable with him and having to work through it, is very realistic for a relationship like that. It doesn't matter if you also do accept like, you have to accept that people will stare at your partner forever, and your entire life, you know, as you move through it, and you have to like, be fine. Your roommate is gonna make a bunch of little people jokes. And it's just, it's gonna be a part of your reality. But it's funny, they don't have time to really cover it in this episode because, of course, the punchline is that, you know, he's Jewish and very religious. But like, also, it is an issue. He should know that, like, Rose somewhat uncomfortable with who he is, and that they would have to work together through that. Like, it's not, it's not like, it's not a non-issue. It's like written away because the religion has to come between them, which is kind of an easy out. But, but yeah, it's just kind of funny, cause like, in a real life scenario, he would be like, 'and also you're not quite comfortable there yet, so let's talk about that.'
Yeah. I think obviously, like, every time I think that something wouldn't fly now on a sitcom, I am sort of, like, shocked back to reality whenever I see a sitcom that's on network TV. And the alarming amount of things that in fact do fly. So I was like this one worked -- like, I don't know, have you ever seen an episode of like Two and a Half Men or something? Like, it's terrible!
Oh god. Yeah, I know it is a cliche to say like, 'oh, it'd never fly today. And you're like, 'no, I think we're getting worse.'
Yeah, we are gonna get worse for sure. But I guess my point is, you know, obviously, there's more awareness of the problematic nature of this episode, for sure. Or maybe it's just a more talked about, you know, issue, but I think that they attempt to handle it really well. And I think you know, the overall message is of course, like -- you think the overall message, I guess is like, when you really love somebody what's on the inside is important, and you can get over things, evolve up, but the actual real message is like, yeah, you have to accept someone for who they are. And also like, you don't need to be sympathetic to everybody who's different than you, right? Like, because I feel like that's sort of the other piece is, like, they're all like, 'oh, you know, I can't believe Rose likes this guy' and you think that's going to be the big thing to get over. But actually, this guy who you're supposed to think is just, like, should be so lucky that someone likes him, has his own set of rules and standards that he's not gonna bend for Rose. So I think -- it works out.
Yeah, for sure. And also on the topic of like, you know, what the viewers are supposed to take away, like, they clearly handle a lot of the issues related to you know, someone being different in the way of a little person. And in fact, Rose does say 'little person' -- like they say 'midget' all over the episode and obviously, in the episodes prior, but Rose says 'little person' in this episode, which is actually like the accepted language. And also was like, that was trying to make a point of just -- you don't, they're just people. And he in fact, has his shit together more than a lot of the guys they date in subsequent episodes, like in the way that he talks about his life and like you said, he's got standards. He can be the rejector and not just the rejectee, like there's not some desperation on his part because he is short, you know?
'How big a man is shouldn't make or break relationship.' 'Not a word, Blanche.'
Of course, they're having short ribs.
I know, it's like, can you just say 'ribs'? Get the fuck over yourself. Oh, well what do you think?
I -- that's all I have, I think, yeah.
All righty. Well, next time we're just gonna discuss gym teachers who may or may not be codependent on a failed marriage. Take care, everybody.