We take a scholarly look at the 9th episode in the first season of The Golden Girls, Blanche and the Younger Man. As the title suggests, Blanche has a young chippie of her own, but we're more captivated by the B story, Mrs. Lindstrom's visit and Rose's struggle to treat her as an adult.
Below is the Enough Wicker podcast transcript for Episode 9: Rose and Her Older Mother, analyzing The Golden Girls Season 1 episode, Blanche and the Younger Man :
Hello and welcome to Enough Wicker, a podcast where our youthful exuberance shines through as we chat about everybody's favorite seniors, the Golden Girls. I'm Lauren.
Sarah 00:10 And I'm Sarah.
Lauren 00:11 And today we're tackling the ninth episode in the series, Blanche and the Younger Man.
Sarah 00:16 Oh, the younger man, love it.
Lauren 00:18 Younger man named DIRK.
Sarah 00:21 I mean, why would he have any other name in the 80s for this character? What do you think of this episode?
Lauren 00:30 So I... I honestly probably have seen this one fewer times. And I've seen most of the other ones, even the ones that I've said that I don't rewatch. It just wasn't reran as much or something like that. But of course, I've seen, you know, that probably means I've seen it 50 times instead of 100. And it's interesting because, you know, the title -- and the titles never give so much away in these. But the title is about Blanche and dating the younger man, which is obviously a huge part of it, but really the bigger thing here is that Rose's mom is in town.
Sarah 01:05 Oh, yeah, and it's actually funny that that so Blanche and the Younger Man clearly is supposed to be the A story. But the B story is so good, it takes over all the time, every single time later in the episode, once they kind of wrap up the Rose's mother story, or it has the resolution that it has, they pan back to Dirk and Blanche, like in the restaurant. And I -- almost every time I'm like, oh yeah, we didn't even resolve this A story yet! What's going on? Like, if you were to map out the episode from like A / B, as I'm sure like a lot of sitcoms are, it would be like such a long chunk -- Like it's basically like done in two parts, as opposed to mixed in.
Lauren 01:45 Yeah! Yeah. And so this one sort of picks up, you know, we talked a little bit in the last one about how there was some regression with the characters, but I think this one sort of makes up for that, particularly with Blanche. So she's introduced to this guy who's her Jazzercise teacher, which is another one of those great sort of like 80s dated references...
Sarah 02:05 It's amazing. Amazing.
Lauren 02:09 And that sort of kicks off -- besides whatever's going on with him -- that enables Blanche to become this sort of like -- to embrace, I guess, really, her sort of like Scarlett O'Hara, like 'forbidden Southern affairs.' And she tells this story, and the story is wild, but it starts -- the way she introduces it, she has that sort of like draw and she says, 'oh, my 17th summer.' And it's -- it's perfect. It's sort of like first time we see that. And -- whoo, it's really great.
Sarah 02:43 You're right. Like this sitting on the porch, telling it. I also love, like, Sophia sleeps during the story, like they pan over and she's sort of just trying to keep her head up. And it's a perfect visual gag, that, like, I'm surprised they use this early because it's so perfect. It like strikes such a note every single time I forget it, I forget about it. And then I laugh out loud. It's incredible.
Lauren 03:06 And again, with the physical comedy, Bea Arthur's shoulders, like, shrink -- Like she like her posture changes when Blanche's story is going on for too long, like there's some crazy, you know, like weird detail about this guy that she was into during her 17th summer. Oh, my God, it's perfect.
Sarah 03:23 Absolutely. Absolutely. And even earlier, when she's talking about, you know, she's like, oh, you know, Dirk's younger than me. And like, Dorothy is just shrugging on the couch. And, you know, Blanche finally says,'you know what? I'm going to do it. I'm gonna date Dirk.' Dorothy just goes, 'Was there ever any doubt?' Give me a break. I'm just here being an audience that I don't even have to react to you, and you're going to say the exact same things because you're so self-involved. It's -- it's perfect. It's so great. Like, you know, Dorothy just looks at the camera when Blanche talks about how he's a little bit younger than she is. And it's amazing.
Lauren 03:56 Yeah. It's crazy. I mean, and Dorothy kind of calls her out on this. But, you know, it's so bizarre that Blanche -- I mean, it works because she would put on this facade. But like, of COURSE you're going to go out with your jazzercise teacher. Like, is there really ever -- are you really, like, contemplating this? Like, there's there's no doubt at all.
Sarah 04:13 Seriously, seriously. A person like you. Absolutely. And she goes through all of this, you know, trying to become younger and all that kind of stuff. I loved how Blanche goes, 'a man his age is used to a trim body with good tone.' And then immediately Dorothy goes, 'then buy him a Princess phone,' which is like, again, another 80s reference, like everybody had this Princess phone. It's like hysterical in this context. Look it up, kids, if you don't know what it is. It's so great. But then we sort of drop the Dirk line. You know, we dropped it, like I said before, like, you know, A story is introduced, and then it goes away for, like, the entirety of the B story, which is so funny. Which, of course, is that Rose's mother comes to visit.
Lauren 05:01 Rose's mother, who she introduces to all of these women in their 50s, 60s and 80s as 'Mrs. Lindstrom,' which I just thought was so bizarre. I was like, I know it was a different time, but, like,Sophia is going to call her Alma. She's going to call her by her first name -- like it's crazy.
Sarah 05:17 Yeah. Exactly. Also Alma's a cool name by the way. And this actress is very cool. And like, it's really it's interesting that they chose this actress and this personality for Rose's mother, because then you you're left to wonder where all of her innocence comes from. And of course, we get into, like, really weird, dicey Rose origins stories, what with the being adopted. There's no mention of her being adopted here. There's like a lot of weird, wacky things. But this is, like, her personality is SO much closer to Sophia's in this, you know, in terms of having a mother figure. So it's interesting that Rose turned out more like Dorothy based on this episode.
Lauren 05:58 Yeah. And it's sort of it's another one of those, like long-term plot holes where, like, we never hear about Rose's mother again. So she just kinda like peeks in -- or in a while, I should say. So she comes and she's this very -- Yeah, like sort of similar to Sophia. She's very lively. She's very with it. She, you know, she's not --she's not feeble. But of course, Rose is kind of very protective of her and very patronizing. Like she, she's like so -- it's not even nice. You can tell it's supposed to be protective and nice, but it's just like -- it's like why are you talking to her like that? She's an adult.
Sarah 06:40 Yeah, it does. It does actually fall very oddly like it's -- And again, Betty White does a good job balancing it. But again, you just scratch the surface and you're like, OK, there's a big, big difference between patronizing and protective. And you could actually toe that line. But like you said here, it's even more over the top. Like where she's like, if she wants to go take a nap in the bedroom. And like, Sophia is talking about Bob Hope, like 'unless he's in the bedroom right now, I think she'd rather stay out here with us.' It's amazing.
Lauren 07:10 Yeah!
Sarah 07:10 And, you know, again, Sophia rightly calls her out, like 'Is your name Mrs. Lindstrom?' Like, I'm not talking to you. Stop answering for her. You know, all of this ridiculous stuff But, yeah, it's a very odd premise in terms of the way that it's done. But it also, again, because these women are expert actresses and that this, you know, the guest star is also wonderful. It's just I don't know. It doesn't strike me too weirdly. It just flows.
Lauren 07:36 Yeah, well, Mrs. Lindstrom is so good. I wrote that I think she's the best family guest actress that they have on to play a relative -- Definitely up until this point, but I would say maybe through the whole series. She's very good. She's very natural. And, you know, like -- it is weird. Like, there's some weird moments, obviously, with roles sort of like trying to parent her. And even when she tries to parent her, it's like, guys, they're almost the same age, like what is -- it's not super working or whatever, but I'll allow it.
Sarah 08:11 "I'll allow it." I think that -- what's her name? Jeanette Nolan is the name of Rose's mother, which she's like been in television for a while and everything like that, she was like pretty -- like I think they were happy to get her as as the guest star for this episode. But again, she was kind of older and I think it was a little bit more difficult for her to remember some of their lines, and they kept changing her lines. So it's kind of -- it's kind of an interesting little backstory I read about in the 'Golden Girls Forever' compendium. But yeah, I agree. I think she really she strikes a really good --like, she fits right in with with all these actresses. She holds her own.
Lauren 08:57 Yeah. It's sort of a theme that's come up a couple times, actually, is so her behavior kind of reverts to like a teenager, because Rose is putting her in that position. But she, you know, sneaks out with -- or she doesn't even sneak out! She goes to the track with Sophia and Rose finds out she left the house. And, you know, that is her reaction is like 'you let her out of the house?!' And Dorthy's, like she says, you know, she dug a tunnel!
Sarah 09:24 Yeah, she was like 'with a dessert spoon.' My favorite is the way that Dorothy, again, because Dorothy is acting like a normal daughter in this situation. And again, we just saw two episodes back in the competition of Dorothy having this protectiveness about Sophia because she's elderly, and because she's had these health issues, et cetera, et cetera, which is, again, in that episode, it's presented as a concern that is a legitimate concern, but not in this over-the-top, insane way like 'you let her out of the house?!' And Dorothy calms Rose down and -- not even calms her down, but just kind of sasses her in this, like, what, are you crazy? She goes, 'she's out betting on the horses, not rounding them up.' Which I thought is such a great line. And it's like, again, she says it as she's walking. She doesn't say it in this, like, I need to talk to you seriously, Rose. You know, obviously she does that later. But, but she just does this, you know -- kind of the same reaction you would have with your friend if they were saying something, like, wholly irrational for the situation. Come on. What are you talking about? It's totally fine.
Lauren 10:26 Yeah. And I think, you know, like we see Rose on the other side of where we just saw her in the last episode. It's different, obviously, but she's treating her mother as though she's completely helpless and not a person. And her mother has shown no signs that, like, she deserves that treatment. Not that ANYONE does! But she, you know, she's very with it. She seems totally capable. She traveled to Miami alone. Like, what are you doin'?
Sarah 10:56 You're so -- you're so right about the fact that, like, when Alma -- I'll call her Alma from now on -- is you know, entering the scene that it's the same as what Rose was doing before, like considering her vulnerable, that she can't take care of herself. But it also the same sense of control, right? Like, Rose has lost control. And of course, it's revealed that she's doing this in this episode to her mother, you know, quite intensely because she fears losing her, you know. So she's trying to control. And I love that they have that line. She goes, you know, 'stopping me from living isn't going to stop me from dying.' And I remember, like, that line being profound to me when I was really little seeing this episode. So I actually I think I watched this episode a fair amount and probably a little bit more than you. I'm not really sure why. It's kind of like a medium episode for me. I like it a lot. But it really -- that line was very -- it really struck me when I when I was little of like a way to think of my parents or even my grandparents or just saying, you know, like, hey, you have to live your life. It's like not -- you can't stop these bad things from happening. We're all going to die. And it's interesting cause it actually -- I feel like it might even guide me in the future as a mother a little bit more. You know, it's a little different relationship the other way, to try to protect your child. But I think in terms of, like, making sure that you're not being so intense so as to stifle is really important. And that's you know, that's the lesson here, which is pretty interesting.
Lauren 12:23 Yeah. That's a great takeaway. Yeah. And I do remember that conversation and that line. You know, there's a lot of weight to it and it's very it's very simple, the words that she uses. But yeah, I think anybody, anybody can relate to that. Whenever you think about your own mortality or the mortality of people that you love. You know, there is this instinct to, like, hold them close. But it doesn't -- it doesn't work. It doesn't, you know -- it doesn't stop them.
Sarah 12:52 She also says very gently, you know, I think Rose -- I'm sorry, Dorothy -- does a great job explaining to Rose gently of what she's talking about. And she says, she goes, 'All your mother wants is to be treated like a woman.' And I, again, like simple language, but it just -- it really is delivered very calmly and gently. And it really makes a lot of sense.
Lauren 13:13 Yeah, no, totally. And I think this definitely -- obviously you can comprehend it when you're younger, but I think it hits differently obviously when you're older, and I'm sure it's different when you have a child -- but sort of that theme, even though Blanche and the younger man is the background, though, it's sort of as the A story, there is this moment. So basically, she goes out with this guy, Dirk, and she is going to order duck l'orange, and she kinda pulls back and decides she's just going to get a salad because that's what he's having. So she's basically sort of changing who she is because she wants -- because she's so sort of amazed that he likes her. But then there's this weird moment --
Sarah 13:58 She's playing to his lead.
Lauren 13:59 Yeah. There's a moment where he reveals that, you know, she reminds him of his mother. And this is the first time I can remember watching this episode -- and I haven't seen this in a long time -- that I really felt like crushingly empathetic for her. I think I always picked up on the sort of, like, humiliation of that moment. And it's not a heavy moment to be clear --it's really funny. But sort of thinking about it as a scholar, you know, I was like, oof -- that has to be so humiliating, and then she to come home and tell the other girls about it. And I feel like I have a very low threshold for humiliation, certainly in real life, but also like in TV shows. And so it's very like -- it's pretty cringey.
Sarah 14:49 Yeah, yeah, and she actually says -- delivered perfectly again, like she walks in, she goes, 'It was humiliating,' like she almost is, like, she's laughing at it with a certain lightness because she has to or she'll sob in that moment. And especially as an older woman. Look, it's like, you know, from watching it, like you said from them now, today, it's hits differently, where you can actually imagine yourself being excited about a contemporary and then them thinking you completely like it --the thought didn't even cross their mind that you would be in their league. But the moral of the story here is that, you know, Dirk's a douchebag because he's eating -- he's into macrobiotics.
Lauren 15:28 And watercress!
Sarah 15:28 Yeah, macrobiotics is like the gluten-free of the 80s.
Lauren 15:34 Blanche is eating bee pollen to try to impress him.
Sarah 15:40 Exactly. It's not even -- Oh, speaking of the eighties, too, I'm going back to the other story, you know, Alma plays jai alai? Like was that like the pickleball of the 80s like or is that just supposed to be like the world's most extreme sport, but like that an older woman shouldn't play?
Lauren 15:57 I don't know, I would love to play either of those two sports. I feel like there -- I don't know where you can play them, but apparently anywhere in Miami.
Sarah 16:04 I guess so. Yeah, that's true.
Lauren 16:11 Yeah. So they have this nice sort of like wrap-up conversation in the kitchen and Blanche is, kind of like, pretty vulnerable. But it's nice, because Rose's mother is able to -- after Rose and her mom have that sort of like very emotional conversation -- they're able to sort of exist as peers. And I think at a certain point, that's all you can really do with your parents. You know, like you can go to them for advice or something like that. But you're not -- you're not saying, 'tell me what to do.' You're saying, what would you do in this situation? And maybe I'll do that. So I think it does establish a nice sort of like mutual respect between the two of them.
Sarah 16:50 Yeah, kind of going back into the, you know, the competition episode where, you know, Sophia wants go to Sicily, Dorothy says No. And she's like, who's askin'? I'm just telling you, we're just talking about this like a conversation. But you're right. It actually is funny because again, before we resolve Dirk / Blanche thing at the end, you know, we resolve the Rose / Alma thing, and they're all chatting in the kitchen, right? They're telling the story of how Alma got to be such a good gambler and how to carve a pistol out of soap, because she had this romance with this ex-con for a number of years, and of course, you know, Rose is freaking the hell out. But they're sitting there and, you know, just having a regular kind of cheesecake sex conversation. And it is interesting, like I'm sure many of us can remember those moments where we actually talk to our parents as peers for the first time. And, you know, most likely it wasn't about like somebody you had sex with.
Lauren 17:44 Your farmhand ex-boyfriend.
Sarah 17:47 But no, it's fascinating because I just -- I remember my moment so clearly. Like, drinking with my parents at my great aunt's house, once she'd passed away. And we were like clearing out some of her stuff. And we were just talking as peers. And just like -- I'm sure it had happened in, you know, a little fits and spurts before that. But that was like the one moment that stuck in my mind. So, yeah, it's just interesting -- the interplay with mothers, specifically.
Lauren 18:12 Yes. And so there's a lot about obviously aging and sort of respecting people as people, regardless of their age in this episode. But I also noted that -- so, Blanche, before she kind of comes to the very final moment of reconciliation, she's like, for the first time in my life, I feel over 40. And Blanche is like, well -- I'm sorry, Dorothy -- is like 'because you're over 50.' And it is -- it's the first time that (I know we know this) but it's the first time that that's said out loud. And it's very affirming. I think that, like, we are all watching a show about women, every single woman on the show is over 50. And that's -- that's what they're serving. You know, and I feel like you GET it, but it is another thing to have it said out loud.
Sarah 19:01 Yeah, that's true, that's true, and that's like this, again, the whole premise of the show is, you know, women after they're twenty-nine, they're not worth anything to Hollywood anymore, right? And it's sort of, like, implied, that that's their age, but you don't talk about age when you get over 29? And like you said, they called it out like, here's the number. We're putting it right on the page. Which is interesting, too, because like, you know, of course, the running joke is that we don't actually know how old Blanche is throughout the entire series.
Lauren 19:29 'Deleted by order of the governor.'.
Sarah 19:31 Yeah, exactly. Yeah. By 'authority' of the governor. (But who's counting.) But other tidbits that are interesting, I read that Bea Arthur's mother actually just died before they taped this. Which, like, talk about an intense topic to have to cover, right? So you can actually like -- I love the scene where, again, Sophia, you know, is reflecting on what's going on with Rose and Alma. And she actually has a nice moment. She tells Dorothy, like, 'the one thing you don't do is treat me like an old lady. You treat me like a person. And I really appreciate that,' You know? And Dorothy says she's overwhelmed, but you can see Bea Arthur get overwhelmed. And it's really hard because, why would you ever know, because she's such a good actress anyway. But, like, you know, that's that's real emotion there. Like her real mother just died, when Sophia says she's a good daughter. It's like, it's really tying into real life there. So I thought that was pretty fascinating and also terrible that like, this is the script that she gets right after her mother dies.
Lauren 20:32 Yeah. And even a daughter to daughter she has with Rose is, you know, that really puts that into perspective, as well. Like speaking as a daughter to another daughter right after that. I'm sure it was very, very heavy.
Sarah 20:44 Absolutely. Absolutely. So, the other piece that stands out to me personally in this episode that comes from Bea Arthur, too, is where Rose is, saying, where she's talking about sleeping with a younger man or dating a younger man. And Dorothy said she had you know, and Rose is like, you know, flabbergasted by Dorothy. And she goes, 'well, of course, Rose, this is before I had the hump on my back.' Right? And, you know, it's amazing because this is the thing throughout the series and throughout the Dorothy character in general -- like the writing is, you know, poking fun at her being more stereotypically masculine. Right? And, you know, both Dorothy as the character and Bea as an actress are able to make jokes about it and make light of it. And I think -- it was super interesting because, you know, for me personally, I've always, like, been more masculine, quote unquote. I've never liked stereotypically girly things. And this is the thing that's always been sort of like a complex that I've had since I was little, when I was trying to figure out like what feminism was, how to actually be a woman that didn't fit into this, like, you know, pretty pretty princess ideal. And of course, like, without even knowing it, right, like the character of Dorothy and just the actress of Bea Arthur is like setting this example for me, where she can be amazing and beautiful and sexy and like a full woman, but also like, you know, take these barbs and these jabs lightly. And even if she does take them somewhat personally, like, she just has such zingers to throw right back in people's faces. I just -- it just really stands out for me. It stood out for me as a kid. And like I just noted that line, because this is like the first of many of these kinds of retorts that we see.
Lauren 22:28 Yeah. No, I mean, we we have talked about it before, and it'll come up a hundred more times. But there's so many feminist takeaways from this. And so, there's that one with Dorothy. But the other one is, like, Dorothy kind of lays into Blanche about being, you know, you're an attractive woman, you're smart, you have a house, you have friends who love you, and you're hung up on this guy who didn't like you. Like what is wrong with you? And Blanche kind of sits there at the very end of the episode, and it's another one of those -- sort of like how when Elliot says she's attractive, she says, 'I know.' So Dorothy kind of goes on this tirade and Blanche is, like, 'she's right.' And it -- it just lands. It's perfect. And it's so true because, you know, how many times do you see women underestimate themselves because someone doesn't like them -- and not just women, but I do feel like mostly women are affected so deeply when they're rejected and particularly in this way, rejected by somebody who you thought liked you and you couldn't believe they liked you. And now you're just sort of wallowing in it. And Blanche sort of does that. But then she snaps right back into reality and remembers who she is, and she remembers her worth. And it's a really great way to wrap up that story, in spite of the fact that obviously it's a more of a background story than the writers maybe intended. It's nice to see it wrap that way.
Sarah 23:49 You're right. You're right. And it's so. I never -- you know, again, she she comes to that realization through her female friends. Right? Like building each other up. And like, even though Dorothy does it in sort of like a, you know, like scolding her type of situation. But it's -- you're so right. That's that's exactly the same exact theme. And there's so much that, you know, little Lauren and little Sarah didn't even know they were feminists watching this episode back in the day.
Sarah 24:18 Two other scenes / lines that we haven't talked about that I do want to talk about is: One. This is where we see Dorothy plumbing for the first time.
Lauren 24:27 Oh, my God, I wrote that down! And Sophia advocating to call a real plumber.
Sarah 24:35 Yes, exactly! Exactly -- that duality that we shall see very, very soon. Later in the season. And also just the line, which I adore so much and I laugh all the time preemptively, as we've talked about, is Blanche goes, 'I'm going to live forever!' when she's doing her bee pollen extracts and, you know, Lamaze class. And Dorothy just goes, 'not outside of an institution.' Like kudos to the writer who got that one, my goodness.
Lauren 25:03 It's a good one.
Sarah 25:06 It's a really good one. It's great. Yeah. So what do anything else about Blanche and the younger man, or Rose and her older mother?
Lauren 25:13 No, I don't think so!
Sarah 25:17 All right. Well, join us next time when we discuss the perils of eating scungilli.
Lauren 25:22 Buhbye!