Enough Wicker debuts with Lauren and Sarah taking a scholarly view at the pilot episode of The Golden Girls. What worked, what didn't, and why that we, like so many others, have such a strong attachment to the show.
Below is the Enough Wicker podcast transcript for Episode 1: Pilot on a Pilot, analyzing The Golden Girls Season 1 episode, The Engagement :
Hello, and welcome to Enough Wicker, a podcast where two friends intellectualize the greatest show of all time. I'm Lauren.
And I'm Sarah.
And we're obsessive fans who very thankfully found each other.
You know, your friendship is something I never expected at this point in my life. And I couldn't have asked for a better surprise.
But we're here to talk about something very important to both of us. And I think, also, very important to a lot of people. And that is The Golden Girls.
Important to the world, really.
Very! It's crazy. Like, I mean, I feel like we both have said this for various episodes and topics but really ahead of its time on so many different things.
There's an immigration episode!
There's immigration, there is marriage equality. There's racism. Oh my gosh, there is a, you know, drug like, yes, addictions. There's, like, gun ownership. But we're getting we're getting ahead of ourselves.
Yes, we really are. Um, yeah, well, so I think also, it's a good time to know that we're not just regular Golden Girls fans. We're super fans.
I mean, that part should at least be slightly obvious because we're doing a podcast about them. But, yeah, why don't you explain a little bit about sort of how we met and how we came upon this topic?
Sure. Well, so I think that I remember watching it when it was on but I was pretty, pretty young. And then I feel like I really got into it when it was on Lifetime. Six and 630 and 11 and 1130. I can remember staying up late with my brother and waiting for it to come on. So I you know, like I've had super strong attachment to it forever. And I think it just came up one day, and you you were like, Oh, I really love the Golden Girls and I was like, Yeah, but I really love the golden girls. You know, thought it was one of those like 'somebody saw it on at their aunt's house, you know somebody who like was a casual fan.
I remember we were walking to a bar, a bar in Hell's Kitchen that gives away a free terrible hotdog with every single terrible beer that they sell. And we were on the back patio that actually you know, allowed smoking, but it was such a small back patio and like a chimney of a backyard, that it was just basically that everyone was smoking. Even if they weren't.
It was no lanai.
No, very true. Do you remember what we -- I mean, what how did they come up? Did one of us quote it? I actually don't remember.
I want to say there was a -- Maybe some somebody quoted or something, but I do remember then everyone pulling up the Mental Floss quiz and like 'how much you actually know about the Golden Girls?' and we kept going back and forth. But I also remember the line that you referenced when you were like, "I don't know if you're as into it as I am." And it was, you know what it is?
Was it "complete this phrase?"
"Better late than..."
I don't know why that happened to be -- actually no, I do remember why that happened to be my test. It came to be my test of like a true Golden Girls fan, or at least somebody deep deep in the cuts. My freshman year of college -- so similar to you, like I grew up watching it, you know, in the 80s with my grandmother, and then also on reruns on Lifetime in high school, and when I'd be home for breaks and college and of course, you know, like you said the timing worked out perfectly to watch it before dinner and at late at night. So you got the double dose. And I do remember watching it so much that one time I had the TV muted and my mom was saying something to me and talking to me and I had like half attention as a teenager and laughed. And she's like, "What? How the hell are you laughing?" I was like, "Well, I know what the joke was." She was like, "you're psychotic." But I remember I picked the 'better late than pregnant' because that was the test that my freshman year of college, I was on like some freshman orientation trip, you know, where you go to the Bronx Zoo. Like, everybody, 'meet new people and become friends' as if it wasn't like, easy to do that in New York as a college student, but one of the guys running the trip, again, somehow the topic of the Golden Girls came up. I said I was a big fan. He said, Yeah, right, which always comes up in these scenarios. He tested me with a 'better late than pregnant,' which was great. So I think I stole that from him, ever since.
Yeah, it's wild, the thread of distrust -- because it's like the second somebody says they like it, you're like, "mm kay."
It's interesting, because, you know, I think you mentioned this before, it's having a moment now. It's having a resurgence. And like any piece of sort of like 'intellectual property' or some sort of cultural element that you feel an actual emotional connection to, and that you quote, unquote, have 'loved it before it was cool.' It You know, you're always somewhat defensive when when new people come on board. And that's happened countless times, you know, I'm sure to both of us where people say like, 'Oh, yeah, I'm a big fan.' And they're just like, 'Oh, I don't know that song or that album' or this, whatever. And you're like, 'well, you're not a big fan.'
Yeah, no, I certainly I've definitely found myself in recent years, too, like, meeting a friend of a friend or somebody casually, and I will throw something out and they don't, they don't know it or something. And they're like, oh, and then I find that I'm being more apologetic because I don't want to be the person who's like, I like the show from the 80s before you did.
But it's true, you know, it's it's interesting. That's this -- It's kind of this snobbishness. But it comes from at least for me, it comes from a place like I said before, it's an emotional connection. Like it really -- the current of that show, the feeling I get that when I'm immersed in this world and these characters and the writing and the things they talk about, like you said, how progressive in talking about societal issues --everything is really wrapped up in various stages of my life, because I obviously started watching it when I was really little with my grandmother and currently watch it today. And I'm 36. So you know, it's it's a thread throughout my life that I really -- it's not just about --
with your daughter, also!
Oh, that's, that's true!
That's very true. My three month old daughter just watched The Golden Girls with me for the first time the other day,
Wow! I love it.
Everybody really wants to know what our who our favorite character was. And I said she hasn't, you know, she has had a chance to develop it. We only watched The Pilot.
She has to take the personality quiz first.
But yeah, like this is sort of what you were saying, too -- It's also interesting because I think it's both of our comfort shows in a lot of ways and and definitely whenever like I'm feeling nervous or sad or you know anything it is always what I put on because I could watch it so mindlessly, and the attachment was so easy, but like it's similar to your story about how the TV was on mute, like I will laugh before the line gets delivered. It's so -- and when you're watching it with other people I think that's like terribly annoying, but...
Haha, I know! I think that's why our friendship -- with regards to this -- our friendship is very satisfying in many regards, of course -- but I mean with specifically with respect to this shared passion for the show. That's another bonus because we can't annoy each other by watching the show and saying the lines. LIke we might as well do the script.
Right, and there's no one else.
I do remember when you had told me right after we had our hilarious, you know, trying to one up each other on "third-party people looking at trivia on the internet," neither of us actually being able to top one another and decided to call the draw.
Crazy that we left that bar with any friends.
That actually is very strange. Maybe we rewrote history and the two of us left alone. But I remember the next day you said, you know, "for real, though, my mom is really glad I found you."
It's true Honestly, I feel like now like she knows you for many other things, but for a while I'd be like, "you know, my friend who likes the Golden Girls" and she would like connect right away.
So on that, we both recently rewatched a couple of the episodes, and the first episode obviously is is the one where we started. And I realized that like so when I was watching it I sat down with the intention to to like rewatch.
I think you put it as 'the first time in a while' or 'perhaps forever' that you've watched it as a scholar.
Yes, I did!
A scholarly viewing. I do think it's interesting because again, as a comfort show, I mean, I remember watching this when I broke my elbow on a cross country bicycle trip, I watched this after my grandmother died, you know, like, I just watch it. And then those are two extreme examples of comfort, but then just in general, like something that you, where you don't really necessarily want to pay attention, but it's, you know, rewatching a show like this is you know what you're going to get and you know, you're going to get that warm feeling, you know you're going to be immersed in this world, you know it's going to make you laugh, you know it's going to make you laugh even before the lines are actually delivered, etc, etc. But yeah, I also think it was interesting. I even found it difficult sometimes to remind myself to watch it as a scholar.
I would, I would sort of drift because I knew what was coming, which is kind of a weird thing. You know, I think it's also part and parcel of like, you know, I have a frickin cell phone in my hand as I'm watching television these days. Okay, like, just focus on one thing. So, it is very hard. It's funny. So but yeah, but so The Engagement! You know, Season One Episode One, "The Pilot," which is fascinating and also, just as a note, I think we decided that, at least for this podcast, you know if if anyone besides you know, our mothers are listening to this podcast
Yeah. Hi, Doris. We already kind of assume that you have either, you know, watched the Golden Girls before or probably if we're going to go episode by episode -- no promises -- but you know, you've watched the episode before, so there's no need for any sort of retelling of the plot.
Truly no excuses
Very true! So I don't know. So what were your thoughts? As far as you know -- pilots are always a little bit off.
Oh, yeah, definitely.
Oh, yeah. Very, there's sometimes a lot a bit off
So just to sort of get this out of the way like, yes, Coco's there. Coco leaves. Whatever. It's fine. I think it was like a -- I assume he was there to sort of be the kind of like the foil to all of their personalities. But I think that when Sophia shows up there's just like completely no need.
Yeah, I think that was actually the reason -- she was supposed to just pop in and out and then all of a sudden they were like, "whoa, she takes the show" and actually I paid attention to the fact that Coco doesn't actually have that many lines.
No! It's crazy that there's like these, "Justice 4 Coco" people out there, like, he's fine!
Yeah, to jump ahead I think one of the my favorite lines -- which also he doesn't get --again, he's, he's not the funniest and he never will be. Whereas Sophia takes over as arguably one of the funniest you know, line deliverers in the entire series, but the part where...
I think I'm laughing at what I think you're gonna say!
... where Rose is talking about Charlie in the present tense, and Dorothy, of course, just goes "Rose, Charlie is dead." And he just goes, "Why tell her?"
And so you think that's funny, you know, it's like, Oh, that's great. And again -- this show is so good at doing this -- where you're like, Okay, like, here's the setup and here's the punchline, but then that goes a little extra further. And of course, the actual funny punchline of that entire exchange is Dorothy saying, "Sure, set a place at the table."
Which is my absolute favorite.
Um, okay, so yeah, so Coco
Yeah, whatever. He's cute the fancy man, he's fine.
The okay petunia.
Um, but so sort of just like getting -- you kinda talked about this -- but I do think the timing is a little bit off. But Rose, I think Betty White, like, hits it right away. Like she is good at being like, sort of ditzy. I think the problem is like with the others responding to her, they just haven't quite, you know, made up the stride yet. But I did write down that I thought she sort of got it right away.
She actually often is the setup to a lot of jokes in the series. So it's, in a sense easier than, like you said, the response to the jokes, or just like coming out like guns ablazing -- and like what I've actually noticed this before I've watched this as a scholarly viewer this time. But when I rewatch the pilot in the first -- like literally sub-two minutes -- like the first scene where Dorothy comes home from work and Coco's cooking in the kitchen, she has eight jokes. I counted them!
Eight jokes in that sub-two minutes, and it's too much, you know, it's a little like it's, I mean, just for everybody, you know, for all you viewers out there, listeners out there, Dorothy is hands down my favorite character, mostly because I actually personally relate to her, but also because I just think she fits in really well. And she's just like, got this world weight to her that also makes her extremely funny, but also a very relatable character. And she's less of a caricature, I think, than all the other three, but we can we can go on about that later on. But that's why i think it's it's so interesting when it's like oh, zing zing zing zing zing -- it reminded me of like Aaron Sorkin writing, or like ---
Yeah. Or Gilmore Girls!
Which I just I cannot take.
I agree. That is crazy that you just pointed that out because that's what I always say if I don't like about Gilmore Girls -- it's like quip quip quip quip quip -- it's like that's not real.
Exactly. And luckily that only happened in the very beginning of the pilot and honestly, it fades throughout the rest of the series, like they really figured it out. You know, Bea Arthur figured it out, I think, I think to your earlier point where Betty White just hits the nail on the head with Rose immediately, I feel like Sophia is a little too haggard. Maybe it's a little bit more in looks, but also just in her being. Dorothy is too -- she's too grumbly and too gruff, and also like to like, "meh, complaint, meh, complaint" kinda thing, and I think Blanche is too demure. I don't think she's sassy and sparky enough, especially because, you know, she's the focus of this episode of being sort of, you know, she's not in control of this relationship she has.
In the same way that the Blanche Devereaux character evolves into.
Yeah, I totally see that. I also think that she doesn't, there's no mention of like, her past as like somebody who got around for a few episodes. I think that I think she had, like the southern belle thing, but I don't think it was as like, as, yeah, like sort of like 'in her control' until later.'
Right! And I actually think I noted too that, you know, part of you know, Sophia is always sassing her for being a slut, being a slut puppy, etc, harlot, whatever. She actually in this episode, you know, she says, "You look like a prostitute." Great. But Blanche laughs! It's funny, because it's like, she doesn't give her sort of that dagger look or a little bit of sass. Like, sometimes Blanche does give the sense of like, "Oh, you!" This time, she just actually throws her eyebrows up and laughs like, Oh, I didn't expect you to say that. And then it goes on that whole ridiculous plot of like, oh, "the part of her brain with the stroke." You're like, you don't need to make an excuse for a really funny old lady.
Glad that they got away from that eventually.
I know. Yeah. "They're still ladies."
Hehe, exactly. So just like on the character development, we both sort of independently saw that Dorothy's, like, general attitude about the students she's teaching is not very in line with who I feel like she actually was. Like it was like NIMBY of her, like baby boomer democrat but not quite as evolved on like, you know, every social issue.
"Very NIMBY" -- I love it, I love it. She actually yeah, she has these moments. I mean, it comes back I feel like where her more conservative streak comes out with, like, her -- Well, well, we could talk about the second episode where she know she's bummed about Dennis not being an actual doctor and being a podiatrist, or, her son Michael marrying an older woman, etc. But yeah, it comes in -- again, it's the same exact same that she mentions at the very, very beginning -- comes in super hot where she's talking about, you know, "a bald girl with a nose ring" and that the students were "too ugly to look at." And you're like, Okay, just slow your roll there. So, yeah, again, they're ironing out the edges, but it's it's pretty solid for a pilot that, you know, really, most pilots I think -- not most pilots, but many pilots -- do have to even be reshot because there are you know, like different characters -- sort of like Coco but like different places or like different just set design things like that. And while the set is obviously a little bit different, you get like this wide angle view of the living room, which is so bizarre, and obviously the lanai and Blacnhe's bedroom are in different places. That kind of thing. But I think for the most part it like it stays pretty solid, which is why it could just kind of flow into the next episode.
Yeah, and I think also even now, it's obviously still significant, but at the time, like having four older women as characters -- and not as sort of like, funny side grandmother characters, you know, like as the main writing that was so big, and that's another thing like they addressed it straight head on, like Dorothy has this whole thing about how she, you know, is talking to these young women and she feels totally normal and she like, sees that she's older. And I feel like it was so -- I mean, aging in general is not something we put on TV even now.
Oh, of course even now. Exactly. That's funny that you mentioned the Dorothy one because the one that really stands out for me is the the Rose speech, you know, the anchor -- like you don't, "we don't go through everything we go through to be left alone." And that one yeah, it's really -- that one is so funny to think about, you know, you can ask like why we related to this so hard when we were so young, and even now we're in our 30s. But I think you know, it is so relatable where you're actually thinking about as a young person getting to that point in your life where you're like, yes, I do want to find a partner or you know, I do want to have a family perhaps or something and it's like, or at least you can see other people progressing through that and the end goal is to make sure that you have companionship through your life. And to think about where she says "the kids leave and our husbands die." Right? And it's like, you don't think about older women like that having roommates. And it's just, it was like you said, it was just such a different type of show -- different type of display of old age, even though they're only, you know, in their 50s and 60s. Not quite old.
And I think that one thing that I love about this show, actually, is that it redefines family, because for a lot of people, you know, chosen family is all you have, or it's the main thing that you have. And so I think that there was that element, but also, I wrote for later episodes, like, Blanche has a really complicated relationship with their family -- with all of them. With her siblings, and her parents, and children, all that and I feel like to even have something like that. Like, it's a complicated relationship, which is very much, you know, I think that's very much a thing.
Yeah, and I think for me, too, when I was younger, that reminds me of like another reason I really related to this, even just not even thinking about the path ahead in life whether it might work out in the, you know, way of these women or not, that you know it was focused on something other than a sexual relationship. It was focused on, you know, friendship and, like you said, chosen family that you could really build a life at any time in your life to quote unquote 'start over' or start from scratch or find companionship I mean, you know, if we skyrocket ahead seven seasons, like obviously Dorothy alludes to this in the very very last lines of the show of how she never expected it at this time in her life. And I think that that was even, you know, even when I was a kid I could totally -- it really was was heartening and that okay, well, life can take you in many directions, but there's always still time to, you know, to create a friendship and sustain it.
And then the other, my only other like, sort of big takeaway from the first episode is that I feel like they mentioned a lot of storylines that become full episodes later on.
Ooh! Tell me!
There's things like one point Dorothy checks Sofia's breath with the mirror. Which of course, you know comes up in my favorite episode maybe of all time in season seven. There's like the
"You never know."
But yeah, like fear of unemployment. I think there's Rose talks about like, where she's gonna live because Blanche is thinking of kicking them out. And then Sophia goes the dog track with the fancy man, which is sort of a running thing and also does eventually become its own episode. Yeah, there were so many of those that was like, I was like, Oh my gosh.
And even just the idea of a wedding or the promise at the end where they say even if they all get married, like they're still gonna stay together as friends, you know, as chosen family. Or even just, I mean, cops coming to the door. I feel like there's so many cops
It's really fascinating. Or just like, I also really appreciated the you know, "you must be Blanche's sister / you must be blind." I feel like there's also a lot of people trying to compliment Sophia by saying something completely ridiculous like that numerous times over the series, and she just kills em dead. I also love the -- speaking of hearkening to other episodes -- there's a future episode where the girls are all deciding where they want to go on vacation and of course, Dorothy wants to go back to New York and they're both like oh my god, forget it, like especially Blanche. Well, Blanche says she goes, "we're going to New York for the honeymoon. I just hope I don't get murdered." And it's just again, kind of going back to what I was saying earlier about the Blanche character is that you know, like, she's just being completely led by the dude, which is like not usually like her -- she's usually in control of whatever dude relationship she's in most of the time. So I feel like she would absolutely be like, "Oh, he wants like, We're going wherever we want to go. We're going to this island. We're going to this or like," it seems, "y'all Harry says we're going to New York. You know, I just hope I don't get murdered." Two other big highlights for me is I remember watching when I was a kid and being completely confounded, particularly since I didn't understand about like 'urinary incontinence' is that Rose saying she stops all liquids at noon?
Like, okay, even if you're a grandma and you go to bed at seven, which is like not what's happening in this series as i can tell, as a young Sarah, that's insane. Like what are you talking about? 'you stop liquids at noon'? You are definitely drinking water with your cheesecake at 2am. But, and the other part is Dorothy talking about grief. And of course she goes through you know, the Irish, the Italians, the Jews. And then she says "it's these southern Protestants who make it a way of life." It's just fabulous. It's a great, it's a great cadence that Bea Arthur -- as usual -- nails.
And in the next one -- episode two, perfect teaser -- I think we really get to see, like, how Bea Arthur played Dorothy seriously. Like, sort of everything besides the humor, which I really feel like is all I ever associated with her. But, you know, it's really interesting.
Yeah know, she's, she's a whole person again, like, that's why I think I really relate to her. And she's been, she's been wronged a lot in life. And again, it doesn't come totally clear, you know, that these three women -- and of course now four women, you find out why Sofia ends up there, because, you know, the retirement home burned down with the hearts that only beat a few times a week.
Wasn't sad to me!
But, you know, they all come from different circumstances. You know, they're obviously two of them are widows, but you know, Blanche and Rose are in a very, very different scenario. So it's exciting to learn more. And I just want to say one more thing about kind of harkening back to what we were saying earlier about the scholarly viewing or the comfort viewing, but there actually is -- I looked this up, because I tend to have this obviously more with the Golden Girls than anything else -- but this idea of with any other cultural element of like TV or movies or even books in a certain way of rewatching or like re-consuming. And I looked it up and there actually is, you know, like a scientific explanation for why it is so comforting. And it's because you sort of subconsciously -- or consciously, I guess, if you're watching it as a scholar -- of your life, you re- you sort of re-markate where you are at in life, because the thing you're watching stays consistent the entire time. So you're sort of relating it as the new person that you happen to be, whether it's week to week, year to year, you know, decade to decade, and it's still you know, if you're if you're watching something that's so comforting, you have sort of that subtext of 'Yes, I know what I'm going to get from this.' I know these different feelings, but certain pieces of it are going to land differently because you're a different person. You know, you've grown in various ways outside of the Golden Girls.
So watching it again, you find, you know, different things to relate to, or different things that stand out. And I think that's great. I think it's fascinating because I personally hope to be watching this when I turn these girls' ages. And it'll be fascinating to see, well, one, life is going to look very different than 1985. But in terms of retirement, or if that exists, but, but still just having, you know, comparing my current feelings as me of the future.
That's so interesting. And it does make so much sense because I definitely feel like I can -- It's sort of like, you know, like, it exposes you, it just puts you in a place I think you see like a particular episode, especially.
All right! You have anything else for the first one?
No, I just think I'm very excited to share this moment with you and our three other listeners.
Yeah, hey Michelle, hey Denis. And Ev!
Oh that's right, four! Yeah exactly. Let's call it five. All right. Our mothers, our partners, and my daughter.
Yeah, that's all we need, really.
But I'm, you know, I, like your mother, am very glad we found each other.
Yes, exactly, me too. All right! Well, let's wrap this up!
All righty. Take care, buddy.