In this one, Blanche is pursuing a [deleted by authority of the Governor] degree at a local community college, and is sexually harassed by the ultra-creepy Professor Cooper. She shows courage and determination as she deals with handling this is an environment that values a man's word over a woman's, and Dorothy shows the same qualities while she tries to secure Frank Sinatra tickets.
Below is the Enough Wicker podcast transcript for Episode 20: Bim, Bam, Boom, Sexual Harassment is Still a Huge Problem, analyzing The Golden Girls Season 1 episode, Adult Education :
Hello, and welcome to Enough Wicker, a podcast where we provide you with continuing education and minimal harassment about our favorite TV show, The Golden Girls. I'm Lauren.
And I'm Sarah.
And today we're on the 20th episode in the series, Adult Education.
20 episodes! Wow.
Very exciting. That's awesome. I really like this one because it's, it's got a very good feminist message, as per usual with a lot of these issues, but really sets, you know, the tone for it. Like, again, this show just hitting all these topics that are still relevant today, 30 plus years later, that haven't really been handled very well by society, or at least in terms of a lot of progress. Namely, the fact that a flirtatious woman doesn't deserve to be harassed.
Yeah, it's, it's wild because this could be an arc today and it would be incredibly relevant. You wouldn't have to change anything about it, right? That's kind of a bummer. Like, we haven't -- even with all of the #MeToo reckoning and things like that, I think it would be maybe more universally everyone would be on Blanche's side, which is crazy that that was ever even an option. But, um, you know, sexual harassment at the workplace and certainly, in schools like this, I feel like you know, like, it's kind of a playful thing most of the time, and it's like somebody's sleeping with their college professor, but, you know, that's not what goes on here, obviously.
Oh, and it's an exchange, right? It's not it's not just harassment in general. It's definitely like a --
Quid pro quo!
Totally. It's, it's pretty wild. So.
Yeah, I mean, so I guess maybe we should back up a little bit and talk about the B story because I love this one. I think that this, this B story is so funny, and I think it's another instance of the show really knowing how to balance this really heavy thing that Blanche is dealing with, because it does a good job at not making light of it at all. Like, there's some -- the girls have some quips about it, but that, the issue with Professor Cooper harassing Blanche, is never the joke. So the B story I think has to be full of opportunities to be funny and it is.
Yes, exactly. But when they do make light of it, they like you said, it's not -- the sexual harassment itself isn't the joke, necessarily, although I can think of actually two instances in which it's a little, like, questionable in terms of like, what the humor that they make of it, but by and large, the humor that is derived from it is against, you know, the perpetrator and, you know, like, all of the right sort of comedic recipes in terms of punching up and not punching down.
Yeah, the ice cream scoops in an obscene way.
That's not the one I was thinking of like -- well, let's save it for later in the episode. Let's talk about the story, as you decided.
Right, so they're trying to get Sinatra tickets, right? Like this is the whole thing that Dorothy has always wanted to see Frank Sinatra and at one point of her kids ruined it at another point Sophia ruined it. So she's never had this opportunity.
Which is relatable. You know, especially with somebody like Frank Sinatra, or anybody I guess, but like, that's a pretty rare tour opportunity. And so like you would -- and it's also so dated, but like, again, such a terrible memory of when you had to go on, like, be on the phone to get tickets to a concert.
Oh my god, I literally was like having bad flashbacks, you know, where like, they keep her on hold, and it's insane. And it's like, but what's really funny about that, is that, like, the scalper thing hasn't changed much, and in fact might have been increased with the fact that you can buy tickets online and almost every single, like, online sale of tickets results in scalpers, getting the best seats.
You know, it's real. Like that part is the same if not worse.
Yeah. And like the desperation for when you realize that it's sold out, like there's a guy who literally prints tickets from, like, a mobile printer outside of Barclays Center -- like that is all holding true, like, nothing is changed.
The part that is funny to me, it totally makes sense with Dorothy and of course Sophia and I mean this demographic in general but just to me, it cracks me up that, like, Rose is a Sinatra fan. I feel like -- I guess it makes sense. But like, I don't know, he's so connected with like a New York type of, you know, like these badasses in Vegas smoking cigars type scene that she would just like think he was a little too much. But it does make sense.
Yeah, it does. And also like the strange connections that -- like sort of, on that Sophia knows somebody who knows Tina Sinatra and there's that whole other thing --
Frank Carravicci! Tina Tortoni! By the way, that whole conversation of how like they're just -- it's almost like a 'who's on first', it totally reminds me of like a frustrating conversation with like a hard of hearing relative of mine. Like, it's just like, of course, this is what I'm saying! How are you not following?! You know. Anyway.
Yeah, I think it's an earlier one this where Sophia is talking about how she knows the woman who inspired the song, 'The Lady is a Tramp,' and she's like, "and that's why hmmm hmmm is a tramp."
Yeah, they're already they're already hitting really, really good strides with the Sophia connection. Did we cover Mama Celeste? Yeah, yeah. So it's like, it's hysterical. Anyway.
So yeah, so Rose being a fan of him does not make sense, but I think what does is her you know, moral opposition to buying scalped tickets and when like, she has the realization that it's gonna, you know, incriminate her and then Dorothy calls her out for eating grapes in the supermarket.
'One is testing, 14 is brunch.' And she goes, 'good lord, I'm a criminal!'
It's so earnest, like it's perfect you're just like calling out the fact that this goody two shoes is actually breaking the law. And you know that kept her up that night. It's amazing.
Yeah, that's great.
Also on like the Rose lines and all these funny things, this is the first episode where she mentions St. Olaf by name.
Oh my god, 20 in!
A big deal. 20 in! And she's obviously as we've covered you know, she's told stories that lead in that direction, she's also called herself 'from Little Falls' which they quickly like ditch that storyline. But this is St. Olaf which is really awesome. And she just has, she has so many just perfect Rose innocent moments in this one. I really love the, 'do you think Bob Hope got all those degrees without studying?' And just, the look that Blanche gives Dorothy is just, she almost, like, -- I don't know, she has this like sad look on her face, like that is one of the sadder comments that Rose has made. But we just can't really explain to her so we're just gonna let it slide.
Yeah, it's great. And they -- I think in the next one actually, that we've established St. Olaf but it's the first time I think that Blanche is outright like, 'you have to stop with these stories', which is obviously like such a running thing throughout the series. So we're seeing that build for sure. And I mean, we we did touch on this but the story that she's telling I think where they're all just exhausted is the Mills Freelander ,like, ice cream shop and tackle shop.
Yeah. Listen, St. Olaf's really small, you know, you have to really combine everything.
Yeah. And the helmet with the horns at the very end of the episode and Rose is like it's 'longenhurden'.
Yeah. That exchange is fantastic. Dorothy is just disgusted. A huge perfect pause, perfect timing pause, 'what is called longenhurden?' Rose's like lips are all pursed tight like, like with Dr. Jonathan Newman being invited to dinner. Yeah, actually back on the chop nuts thing at the end when Blanche is like I may get a little crazy with the chopped nuts. Rose actually leaves the room, which is so great. I kind of forget -- I always remember that line that line call back where Blanche is just talking to her, but she actually gets up and leaves the room which I think, again, in that one-two beat you know, joke combo is actually the funnier bit of the two.
it's great and I mean also in the kitchen when Blanche is -- after she's you know, waiting to tell them what happened and Rose goes on another one of her like extremely tangential stories about how she ended up winning the tickets and Blanche she's just like --
'No, no, no, no, no. Please, I cannot bare that again!' I mean, Oh, God, that that whole story is fantastic. It's um, it's one of my my favorite exchanges. And it's also, like, let's focus on that for a minute, the feeling when you're talking about how, like, you know, back in the day you had to stay online or on the phone for tickets, like, talk about not having text messaging, or even cell phones, and the feeling of, like, having to wait for someone to come home to tell them a story or like to tell them something exciting that happened in your day. Like,you you held all of this in for every stupid thing that happened, or every hilarious moment and, like, if you live with someone, roommates or otherwise, you would just have to wait until they came to talk to them about your day. And the fact that all, like, three of them have a really exciting day -- actually, all four of them, really -- come in and, like try to talk over each other and like get caught up in the moment. It's just perfect. That's exactly what it would have been like.
Yeah, no, it's definitely it's very relatable and I think also we haven't talked about this yet but the southern accent was Rue McClanahan's idea. And I think that it is just so useful and I mean it makes the character. But in that, the "bim bam boom she won the tickets' like that whole exchange. the accent is like crucial.
She goes, 'get your bohunkus back here.'
So great. Okay, so should we talk about Professor Cooper?
Yeah, and let's cover first, so, what degree is Blanche getting here? Like did she graduate from college?
Honestly, I thought, I don't know. She went to Miss MacGuyver's finishing school. She's gone to a lot of different educational institutions. So it's hard to say, like, and she was in a sorority, so I don't know.
I like how it's like you're pulling up her CV right now. 'Yeah, just like a little murky here... deleted by authority of the governor.' Yeah, she's like, I'll always have my degree. You know, like, it's just it's a substantial degree. This is not a certificate for this promotion that she's looking for, you know? It's just kind of fascinating we sort of breeze over that. But anyway, so she has to take, you know, she flunks this test. And it is not proving to be, you know, a good sign for her passing the course, right? Rose is like, look at the bright side, it's just one test. And then Blanche goes into the whole thing about how it actually will trickle down to ruin her degree and her promotion, and she's like, 'Oh, I guess there is no bright side.'
Yeah! So innocent.
But yeah, so anyway, so yeah, Professor Cooper, what a dickhole.
What a creep. Yeah. So he like, I feel like his whole presence, like, before he even speaks is like, you know, like, you know what's coming here.
Yeah, he's very skin crawl-y
Yeah and he's like, almost, not a caricature, but he's definitely more of an extreme that I think you would encounter in real life. Yeah, but the depiction that I think is super realistic, although he's a little disorganized, is when Blanche decides to report it and the dean, I think is, uh, you know, I don't know what we should do, like, I just started -- basically brushing it off as though it was like a pretty minor thing, which is, you know, sort of what we were talking about in the beginning, like, that is often how women who are sexually harassed are treated when they go to authority. And it's like --
Right, if they even feel that they can go to authority!
Right, which she struggles with!
Of course, yeah, exactly. And she's encouraged by Dorothy to do that. Which, if I may just interject, the fact that Dorothy had previously been sexually harassed at a teaching gig by the principal in a corset and high heels, and this is the part where I was like, I'm not quite sure if all the humor is not played into the actual harassment. But that whole part where she's like I wasn't the only one here asked, but I was the only one who harassed wearing course my heels and then Bea Arthur just stares this long stare in silence, like she's replaying the entire scene in her mind, and then just like shakes it off, like 'anyway'. It's such a fucking real moment, where you like, Oh, I have a story about that relevant from my life and then you're like, oh, wow, I haven't thought about that in a long time.
Yeah! I think it's so realistic, too, about this whole thing is like, Blanche isn't sure she's gonna -- I mean, I don't think she's ever seriously considering it. But I do think there's a moment where she's like, weighing the option of going out with him or whatever for the grade. And like, you know, the shame of that and the willingness, I think, to address that in even though it's a light sitcom-y way, is really, really incredibly progressive. Because I think that like, a lot of women, that's where the shame comes from, right? It's like you put yourself in this position, which obviously she did not, but I think that, um, that's like the psyche of harassment and why it's so hard to reconcile with.
Exactly, exactly. And going back to like what you were saying about the authority figure of like, I think, again, this could play out exactly today. Like, he actually does say something like, Oh, that's terrible, you know, like he reacts in the way that you would expect the authority figure to react. And she's like, yes, it is, like, let's get to the bottom of this. Now, it sounds like you're on my team. And then he stops when she's, like, there aren't any witnesses. Right? So this talk of witnesses being needed, which of course is not how harassment works. It's just, like, you're not doing it for an audience. It's the same thing with street cat calling in harassment's world you know, where you're just like, Okay, I'm walking down the street with my husband, like, this guy is not gonna say shit to me because I'm my husband's property, but as soon as I'm by myself, that's when he feels the need to pitch in. Like, it's just -- it's all insane. So the talk of witnesses being needed literally stops him in his tracks. And he's like, Well, I mean, 'it's your word against his,' which again, super relevant. And his argument for not following through with the accusation is he says, 'a man's career is at stake,' which of course is like we constantly hear, 'oh, you'll, ruin a man's career with sexual harassment charges,' yeah just like our president of the United States, you know, I mean, it's like it's insane. But Blanche's retort, again, it's so progressive here, she goes, 'well, so is mine.' Because it is! This whole insane, weird like, you know, degree that she needs because she didn't get it at Miss MacGyver's finishing school is because of her career progression. She's actually trying for a promotion. And so I thought that was awesome. And of course then she says 'not to mention my dignity,' which of course is like the real piece here. But I love that she actually talks about how this hurts her career, as well.
Yeah, no, it's it's so progressive. And I mean, yeah, like you said, like, Professor Cooper is probably on the shortlist for a Supreme Court pick at this point, like, you know?
Yeah. 'Such an admirable man.'
And they, they do a good job though I think because I, you know, I don't think that anybody would have called the show out for this, but I think they're really careful not to, like, shame teachers as a, like, you know, as a profession, because Dorothy also talks about the teacher that she had, who ended up in 'Wode Island,' who, you know, like, had a profound impact on her and so I think they do a good job with like, making sure.
Well, and it's also college, right? It's adult education, literally in the punny title, adult education. But yeah, I think they do a good job and that never entered my mind. I also of course, love teachers, but it's like, what's interesting is, I think, it shames deans if anything, yeah, because this dean is --
The guy who's never heard about '7B.' Also the dean -- this is another thing of this ridiculous standard where he's 'sorry, the man's career is at stake, we can't do it.' He equates not hearing about a sex move in life to being sexually harassed -- as like both equal 'life's not fair'.
Which is so masculine and like so --
Oh, yeah, my white man plight that I didn't know about this doinking move is exactly the same as Blanche being sexually harassed. It's not fair. Life's not fair. Equal playing field.
Yeah, nobody's bonging the dean, sorry to him.
Definitely not his wife. Um, the other -- we were talking about what parts of this episode you know, like how how they actually make light of the very heavy topic, obviously, through the B story, but even in the sexual harassment story. One of my favorite ones is honestly, where they, you know, like Blanche is presenting it to the girls as like, this is what happened, right? You told me to go talk to the professor and this is what happened. What should I do? Sophia just gets up and has like a drive-by comment as she exits the room and says 'get it in writing.' Which, I mean, it's absurd on so many levels, but just like, it's like, Look, if you're gonna do it, you're gonna do it this way, you know, it's contractual obligation. It's just, it's perfect. I love that particular bit.
Yeah, it's great. And like, the feminist perspective of this is so great because it's so realistic, right? Like Blanche is hurt and shocked and, at one point doesn't really know what to do. But she, you know, decides that she's not gonna, like, take this, she's gonna study, she's gonna get the grade. And she starts with the dean, I think, right? Like when she goes to report it, and he's like, oh, I've never even heard of 7B and she's like, well, you can go do it to yourself. And that's I think when she turns or, or honestly doesn't even turn, because she already has by going there but that's when she's like, okay, the whole system is built against me. So what can I do?
Yep, exactly. And then her speech at the end, where she's like it -- actually thinking of this motivated me to, you know, to push on and do it the right way. And of course, again, that's not an opportunity for most women who've been sexually harassed in this way, right? Like, you can't reclaim it automatically by like, I'll just do the straight and narrow thing like Rose says, you know, that kind of thing. But in this case, it works. You know, and she, you know, he can 'kiss her A,' which is a wonderful, wonderful little pun by the writers there. I'm very proud of them for getting that in. But, but yeah, it's it's like it all builds up to her being -- I think she actually says when she's telling the girls that she's like, I realized that I can only rely on me and that's it. And I just had to do it myself, which is so great. But then at the end --
Oh, my God.
It's, it's kind of like when you're like fixing a bathroom and then you celebrate the fact that you didn't fix it properly. Like -- the end, you know, they're like, oh, you're gonna get the promotion! You have a degree. It's amazing! And she's like, oh, didn't I tell you like this other lady got it, because you know, the money I spent on this college education, she spent on a tummy tuck and a butt lift. And it's, like, played for laughs, but it's like literally the theme of getting ahead with your body. And winning? It's kind of an interesting, it's kind of an interesting, like, I don't know if they actually did they, they had to have known that that would sort of, like, undo the -- I don't know, maybe it doesn't undo, but it definitely like hammers home that, like, hey, sometimes the, you know, women who do stuff with their bodies do actually win in the end over you, who is doing the morally right thing? You know, it's just kind of fascinating to me, because it's played as these, like, one-two jokes, where she's like, Oh, you know her, you know, her butt will turn to mush, but I'll always have my degree. And you're like, hahahaha -- but wait! What happened in the whole episode?
Yeah, I feel like they were going for something there and it missed. It's like two steps forward one step back a little bit, with, like, you know, 'pretty women are always gonna get it. Don't even try!'
Maybe there aren't people thinking as hard about this as we are, but still.
I guess not.
I suppose not. Um, one other scene that I just want to mention here, too, is is one of my favorites and it's just such a great scene of, again, like, Sophia being cantankerous and 'get it in writing.' You know, she's -- Rose is asking her what she's doing. She's like, it's Tuesday night, I'm cleaning out my purse. Just the perfect little old lady thing and like that, absolutely, was like both of my grandmother's and one in particular, I'm sure like, had this routine down, you know, like, this is just -- this is life, and this is what I'm doing to take care of my little life. You know, my little corner. But she's like, 'why are you in such a bad mood?' She goes, 'forgive me rose, but I haven't had sex in 15 years and it's starting to get on my nerves.'
There's a lot of lines in this one that I feel like have been termed turned into memes. There's that one and also the part where Dorothy's on the phone and she's, like -- you can only hear her side of the conversation -- she's like, 'No, I will not have a nice day!'
Exactly. That's true! But they're, yeah, they're just perfect little quip lines that don't have to play off each other and it's, it's just lovely.
It's a great one. I really like this one a lot.
Is that it?
I think so.
Okay, we'll sign off and join us next time when we discuss using either a heating pad or a vibrator to heal the flu. Bye, everybody!