Blanche's disrespectful grandson David visits Miami and learns important lessons about chores, discipline, and handicapped animals.
Below is the Enough Wicker podcast transcript for Episode 6: We Do for Family, We Don't Do for Rat Tails, analyzing The Golden Girls Season 1 episode, On Golden Girls :
Hello, and welcome to Enough Wicker, a podcast where we talk about everyone's favorite grandmothers to visit, the Golden Girls. I'm Lauren.
And I'm Sarah.
And today we're on the sixth episode of the series, On Golden Girls. And the -- the sort of basis of this one is that Blanche's grandson, David, who is 14, allegedly, I'm not really quite sure how old this actor is. But he comes to visit because Blanche's daughter, Janet, who -- you know, we continue to hear about in the series and her husband, a Yankee! which is a hugely, hugely problematic piece of information for Blanche. They're sort of having marital problems. So, I think setting that up for David's arrival is really important because it kind of explains some of his behavior.
Right, exactly. And it's also the pun on On Golden Pond, which is the Jane Fonda movie about teenage bonding -- teenage boy bonding, which is just like, I wonder if they just took that title and they're just like, let's write a movie -- I mean, let's write an episode about you know, bonding with a teenage boy. All right, throw them in there.
I would believe it. Definitely I would believe it.
Also the actor -- fun fact -- is the younger brother, in real life, of the actor who plays Dorothy's son Michael.
Oh, interesting! I could see that.
Yeah. Also, who has a mutable age throughout the series. Yes, definitely. We'll meet him later. So what did you think?
Okay, so I hate this one. I will be very upfront about that. I will say watching it this time, I found a lot of funny lines. But in general, I think this is one that I would skip even if I like came across on TV. I David's just so annoying. And the plot is just so, like, what a punk kid! You know? It's hard for me to get past that, but -- but I do. I think there's a certain amount, of sort of what we talked about before, of reality suspension that you need to appreciate this one, starting from the very beginning. We talked about this in the episode of Kate's wedding, but David just snuck to the Bahamas. I know it was a different time. I know that like, plane security was different, but how are people just like, zip-zapin' around to the Bahamas all the time? And this kid's 14?
Yeah, he just locked himself in the bathroom of the plane and continued on to the Bahamas? So that's --another cop at the door, which you referenced before.
Oh, yeah. Also it has to be a cop of the door, right? Like it has to be a cop at the door because, you know, they -- again, this different time of flights, but also that she has to page him in the airport. She has to talk about checking the flight records, like all this pre-cellphone, right? Like you can't -- if you miss someone at the airport, what are your options? She comes home. Like, like the funniest thing to me. And then of course, you know, he gets delivered by a cop at the door immediately with his punk leather jacket. It's hysterical.
It's Miami, how -- what are you doing? You must be sweating. So also, so David shows up and whatever. He's this punk. But actually before he gets there, I think we get to see a nice little glimmer of Rose when she is talking about, like a real true revelation of who Rose is and was as a mother, when she said she's made her son's favorite after-school snack, which is like a BLT, potato salad, and chocolate cake and they're like, 'Where was he going after?'
The electric chair?
Yeah! But I think that's exactly what you imagined Rose was as a mother, like doting and like, you know, constantly serving food and like your snack is prepared when you walk in the door, and it's definitely a little bit. It's a little bit dated for us now, certainly, but I think for who she was, as a mother in, you know, like, whatever the decade it was like, I think that that's what she lived her life as, and it's nice to see that little flashback for her.
Yeah, that's a good point that really does paint -- again, it fits so well, but it's just an obvious thing she would be doing, so it's perfect. The other nice glimmer before David arrives is, you know, Dorothy's kind of grumbling because she has to take this French test -- which again, like, okay, you're taking a French class, all right.
They're always in classes. I know.
Continuing Education is really important. To be -- to be fair, it does make sense that Dorothy would, like, be the one most taking classes as a teacher, like she's the one that education is most important, but I refuse to believe that she never took a French class in her entire life, that she didn't know how to say, 'Merci beaucoup mes amis.'
Yeah, that's a big -- the big reveal.
Very impressive. Yeah, which is perfect that Rose says she'sthe most impressive, again -- perfect. But no, they're talking about it -- Dorothy's kind of grumbling because she's got to study and, oh my god, a teenager, what are we gonna do with one in the house? And, you know, Sophia just sort of, again, she's sort of like, you know, admonishes her and just says, like, hey, 'it's Blanche's grandson, we do for family,' and I just -- like, that's such a perfect line. It's such a perfect Italian grandma line. And it's just like, that's it family no matter what -- that's, we're helping out and that's that. And Dorothy says, You know what, you're right. Like it's, it's pretty cool.
Right, and actually, that sort of ends up being the real B story is, like, Dorothy studying for this exam, but the real sort of background story that Sophia and Dorothy are forced to share a room while David's here. Yeah, for the first time in a long time, and I think that that's a really -- it's really cute. It's really sweet, but it also is, you know, Sophia is very annoyed that Dorothy is in her bed and, like, Dorothy is questioning all the medications Sophia has before she goes to bed. She's got a little BenGay on her knees, a little Vick's on her chest and, you know, Dorothy's very annoyed by all the scents. And I think it -- the exchange is really funny because, like, one of them's like tossing and turning and the other you know, the other one is, is breathing really loudly or whatever, and it was just a very I feel like accurate picture if you've ever had to share a bed with like a friend or somebody who's like -- it's annoying, like they do annoying things when you're trying to fall asleep and especially if you're really tired or you're trying to you know, study for something, you would be pretty annoyed.
Especially if it's family.
Yeah, exactly. And yeah, Dorothy's tossing and turning, and after she lists everything, she goes, 'keep it up, I'll need a Dramamine.' What I found, I love that scene so much because, like you said, it reads so true to life when it's just -- you're out of your norm, you know, like there's -- this is not, that you're not partners, you're not used to everybody's quirks. So obviously, it's gonna be interruptive. But she, you know, so Dorothy is complaining about her pickling herself and you know, she goes, Sophia says, 'fine, I'll wipe it off. Tomorrow I'll be in a wheelchair.' And no one laughs! The studio audience doesn't laugh!
That's the funniest line of all of those, because, again, like, like we said, there's so many punchlines like roll, roll, roll, roll, roll, and you think it's the end of the joke segment, but it just keeps going and that part is my FAVORITE part of the whole thing. And nobody laughs in the audience. Maybe they're just too tired from other giggles?
I know it's a good one. And then so they're having that, and then Dorothy goes off on that story about Mrs. Doolittle. And I also really like this because Dorothy gets to -- it's like a little cringey for me, like when she's telling the story and she's like, doing like a baby voice about her doll. And Sophia is just not here for it. She's like, go to bed. I don't care, you know, like I'm not here for your memory lane right now. So I love that, and then I think, also, the a little -- a lot of comic relief again comes from Rose. We have -- we're getting closer to a St. Olaf story. She tells this crazy story about how she had to milk Alice, the cow on their farm, and she's like we had to sit on the stool, and the girls were like, well, you know, you're always sitting on a stool when you're milking a cow. And of course the reveal is that Alice had to sit on a stool, because she was involved in a nasty plowing accident. And you know, there's just like, all these crazy anecdotes about the animals on the farm and whatever, and it goes on for too long and it's getting -- we're getting so close. I can't -- I can't wait for when we finally get there.
Right. That's right. And it's it's funny because they -- the part I don't like about this, you know, so Dorothy has a really funny line where she's like, 'what did you guys run a farm for handicap animals?' She keeps talking about, you know, again, peppering throughout the episode, as you said, getting like different comments about just wacky, you know, animals that are struggling in some physical manner. But at the end when David's giving his little speech, when he's presumably drinking, like, a root beer while the rest of them are having champagne. That's what you do -- when your 14 year old grandson visits. He's like, I learned all about handicapped animals. and it kind of kills the joke a little bit more to like, not let it lie. Like. they make the joke again and you're like, okay, all right, like the audience laughs. But I was like, all right guys, come on, like don't don't take away from the power of it having be like a one-time shot -- for me at least. So I think they're still working out like, like, when they do callbacks to St. Olaf stories later in the series, they don't ever sort of repeat the same lines. You know, they don't ever say the punchline again. It's always like, it adds on to it like those plus-plus-plus jokes that we were just talking about.
Yeah, I agree. And I think also part of it is that the David character is that -- it's not a good, it's not a great display of acting, if I may.
Oh, yeah. Let's talk about David, tell me why you hate this episode so much.
So I -- so David shows up and you know, right. He's just, like, a caricature. And I think that sometimes, you know, that's fine. I think a lot of times, the kids of the four girls are, you know, they're not recurring, exactly. They don't come on a lot, so it's fine they don't need to be, like, you know, they don't need to all be George Clooney, I guess is what I'm saying of the guest stars. That's an Easter egg for you, you super fans out there. Um, but yeah, so he comes, and he's just like this this punk, and right away he's -- he's going out to make friends and I'm like, you're 14 -- like what? I just picture myself in, you know, seventh, eighth grade, and like, I didn't know anyone like that, it's very unrealistic depiction of eighth grade to me. So, he shows up, right, and he's just like, super disrespectful right away to all of them. He --
Oh, come on, but the 'the Nina, the Pinta, or the Santa Maria' line is pretty hilarious.
It is hilarious. But what's funnier is Rose's response, which is, 'it was a DC 10, I don't think it had a name.' And you know what I think is interesting is all of their responses to his sort of off-putting personality. So Blanche is, like, kind of making excuses and I think walking on eggshells, which I think is a pretty well developed tactic, because she's so -- we find out later that she's so damaged and sort of embarrassed about what she did while raising Janet, and how their relationship is now, that does make sense, that like she would really seek his approval.
Yes, she's unsure of parenting, still, like way more like unsure than the other girls are.
Yeah, and she wants him to like her, which is a really sort of bizarre thing to have with with your grandchild, I imagine.
Yeah -- well, that comes up later with her niece. So I mean, it's a, it's a running theme with Blanche,
Right, that's true! And she sort of, like, kind of brushes it off and is like, oh, his father's a Yankee, what can we expect? Whatever. And I think Rose is kind of shocked by it. Her reaction isn't as strong, but Sophia. which also is right in line with what I think would actually be the case --she's, you know, an 80-year-old Italian woman from -- who lived in New York like, her reaction is like, she's just not going to take any of his, like, nonsense. And you know, of course, she makes the reference to hitting him with a melon baller, which is a little dated.
'A little.' But I like -- they actually do go into, just like last episode where they're like, oh, blah, blah, blah house calls and it's kind of like a whaaaaat? And then you know, as you watch it now, especially, and then they go into an explanation. This, you know, when she's like, 'I would have given him a smack,' and you're kind of like, welllll okay, you know, little uncharted territory, a little bit controversial, and they actually talk about it here. You know, like, 'I don't believe in hitting kids,' or 'I think sometimes they deserve it,' you know, like that kind of thing. So it actually covers it -- from a 1985 perspective, to be fair -- but, but yeah, but the melon baller, even though it is violent is very funny.
Yeah, no, it definitely is.
Good weight in the hand.
So basically, like David just kind of runs off and is, you know, can't be controlled and whatever. And like, that's fine if he wants to go out and party. I don't care. But --
Well, what you were saying earlier, too. I do remember watching this as, as a younger woman, as a younger girl, and being like, is that what kids do? They just sort of go and make friends at a burger joint when they're on vacation? Like, that's not what I do -- am I supposed to be doing that? Like, there was a little bit of like, oh is that with the cool kids are? Like, I definitely think I would have been impressed by David had I been 14 at the time, like something about his being a dickhole is like, you know, endearing to a woman of that age. But it's just really funny. I did the exact same thing --l ike who, who's making friends at the burger joint? 'Looks like there might be some kids there.' Yeah, come over to my grandma's house. It's very bizarre.
No, that's totally I definitely remember watching this when I was younger being like, wow, like, I need to make some new friends. Where should I go? Like, what should I be doing? Like how would you even get anywhere? First of all, you 14 you can't drive -- like, it's just, it -- there's a lot of holes in it, right? So whatever, so he goes and he somehow makes all of these friends with the -- and I love so much when they walk out, they hear this like insanely loud, just like somebody crashing a symbol, like it's not even a beat. It's just like, absurdly loud music.
It actually -- I really wish I had done Shazam to see if it's a real song, or if it was like composed for this because it absolutely sounds like parts of a Led Zeppelin song, where you're just like, what? Where they're just sort of jerking off with guitars and drums. It's really hilarious, but like, the 80s boombox is just perfect. And you think that that's the most perfect set dressing. But then they do this amazing, just, visual gag of the girls staring at this bleached rat tail that the one guy has. And then you're like, Nope, that's even better than the boombox. A bleached rat tail.
Yeah, it's another it's another instance of the punchline just being Bea Arthur's face. I think like, she's just staring deadpan, and she just is fascinated but also horrified, which I think we've all we've all had when we see a rat tail.
She pauses what she's saying, you know, she like interrupts herself for the gag. It's -- It's magnificent.
Right, so basically, okay, so now David's here with his friends, whatever. You know, they're like what the fuck? Like you have to get out -- there's all these random kids here on a -- what?
It's also two o'clock in the morning, like this isn't, like -- like he's being willfully a prick, but I can't tell, and I don't know if it's because his acting or the writing or whatever it is, if they're trying to be like, no, he thinks this is fine that he should be able to do this because it's like, even if you're trying to be a dick or you'd like don't know how families work, like, come on, dude.
Right? I mean, even if your parents are fighting all the time, I'm sure they're not cool with you having a group full of kids in their living room at two in the morning
Also it's your grandmother.
Who you obviously don't really know that well, so I don't understand! Yeah, so whatever. So they kick him out. And then they have to basically deal with, like, punishing David and he's such a -- so, I think the reason I think there's a really painful sort of root to this episode, which is that Blanche really fucked up with Janet, which we said, but I think living with that, and also sort of just, like, living with the fact that your relationships with your family are complicated, really grates at her. And even though she kind of lives her life, in this sort of like, very, almost flamboyant way. You know, anytime her family comes up, it's, it's, it's sad, and it's heavy. And I feel like for anybody who doesn't have, you know, a sort of perfect relationship with your family, or you've ever fought with a parent or something like that, you know, like you can, you can relate to that. And I think that that's sort of the dark cloud over this, which is probably a huge reason why I don't like it. And also because --
That makes a lot of sense.
You know? And David doesn't seem to have any sense of -- like empathy, I guess, is really the word I'm looking for with Blanche. And that, like drives me nuts, because I, I mean, not to be a reverse sexist, but I think that, like, if you wrote that same character as a granddaughter, she would have to -- even because, think about little Melissa, who's probably, I don't know eight years younger than David later in the series, but she is so careful around her grandmother's feelings. And it's just so annoying to me, that a boy that much older wouldn't have, like, half of that sense of empathy in trying to make someone else feel good.
Yeah, exactly. And he know -- he has the line at the end like, 'vacuuming is for GIRLS.' So this is like, okay, fine, like a 14-year-old boy might say that, too. But you're right, like they wouldn't have written a granddaughter in the same way. And again, they -- but also, like, to give grandsons some credit, like, again, like I mentioned the 2am at your grandma's house thing like, come on, meet them halfway, understand little bit of where they're coming from, you know? So yeah, I totally I can totally see how that really rubs you the wrong way. But you're - but you're right about the complicated family relationships because, like you said, you know, I mean, if you -- it's interesting to portray it here as a grandmother kind of regretting the way, you know, she raised her own children, but feeling like there's an opportunity to quote unquote, 'do over' or 'do right by' a grandchild. I think that that's a that's a heady concept, and from the reverse point of view for like, young women like me, and you watching this, you can see it from the opposite perspective of like, oh, I might have a complicated relationship with my mother, or my father or something like that. But now I can see the reverse of what they might be going through with me, reflected you know, in the character, so. But I think it's the whole like, doing over and doing right by David, that's what you said in the beginning like -- Blanche has to walk on eggshells around him and she's not really sure how to pursue it, because she wants to be so well liked. And she knows she's not really well liked by his mother.
Right. Exactly. Yeah. So, so that all happens, whatever. And then, you know, I think they're supposed to be this big sort of like, and I'm sure it was at the time, like this big controversial moment when Sophia does finally slap him, and it's kind of -- I like that they don't really harp on it, because I do think it's sort of like, anti-climactic in a way, like it's it's a pretty swift thing that happens, you know? And then he goes outside he's reflecting he's all like, oh, mopey, dopey, whatever.
I love how much you loathe him. It's just great. How does the -- do you remember how the audience reacts? I think a bunch of people applaud.
Yeah, there's there's like some subtle clapping, but it's not it's not a lot. Like, it's not like everybody. Yeah. So that's sort of I think it's not a huge discussion on like, the use of spanking is just, you know, like, it's we don't need that. I don't need that from this.
They cover it, but it's not -- it's not actually the plot of the episode.
Right, yeah. Which, which I appreciate. Yeah. So then where I think it actually does sort of like, ramp up and get funny again is when they're discussing like, how to handle it and what to do about his punishment. And there's a couple different pieces of that conversation that I really love. First, they're going through the chore list, and they're just kind of going through it and it's all like normal stuff, clean the garage, yada, yada. And then it's 'clean the denture cup.'
Scrub the denture cup. 'I hate doing it.'
That's a really good one. And then there's this, sort of for no reason, but I love it -- Rose says, 'idle hands are the devil's workshop.' And Dorothy chimes in and she's like, 'God, I wish I'd said that.'
I literally had that -- I was going to write this down in my notes, and I was like, I don't even know what to say about it. And I think that's actually very meta, because I feel like the writers didn't know what to say about it, but they just love that line. Like, 'God, I wish I had said that.' That's it and it just passes through. And it's not, it's not anchored anywhere. It's just floating out there. But it's --
It's so perfect. Yeah. And so then they're all talking about the different chores they did growing up and, and Blanche sort of, again, what you were saying, kind of takes the blame on herself because she never had to do any chores. So she didn't raise Janet to do chores and yada yada, but the lighter part of that conversation definitely is the other -- the other woman talking about what they had to do growing up.
Except the speaking of lighter, I think it's pretty damn dark, which I noted where Sophia is saying 'crossing the street without getting pregnant was a chore in Sicily,' which is like kind of funny, but then they dig into it, because Rose asks about it later and she's like 'cheap chianti and narrow streets' and you're like, 'is this a rape joke?'
Shit, goddamn. Seriously. But I do love how, again, the other women are so much more confident as mothers -- they might have different ideas of what to do, like Rose obviously disagrees with the hitting and all that kind of stuff, and, you know, Dorothy might feel differently about it, but she doesn't think Sophia has a right to do it to somebody else's grandkids, yada yada. But they all are very much like, no, it's like chores and discipline and structure like boom, this is what will happen and they immediately, like, are just they kind of write a prescription for him, which is interesting because it's like, I don't know, I kind of reflected on that. Like, I do think the structure is important, but is it really gonna switch by being like, hey, we just had a fight, do all my chores and scrub my roommates denture cup? But apparently, he loved it, given by his root beer speech at the end. I think that the best part of this entire exchange of, like, the other women being a parent to someone else's grandkid is Dorothy's tough love exchange, where she literally calls him 'buddy boy' as she catches him -- catches him sneaking out the house. And it's like, it's just it -- again, I think like so many things on paper, it could be so over the top and so hokey, particularly with the use of the phrase 'buddy boy,' but Bea Arthur just nails it. And she, you know, Dorothy is the toughest and strongest. She's a schoolteacher. She knows how to actually talk to a kid like this and like, ask him what his plan is. But I also remember watching this episode, and I think part of the reason I don't actually hate it as much as you do, is because of this scene. And because I feel like even though she's tough on him, she's treating him like an adult, that he wants to be treated as. Like she's already like, so what's your plan, taking the bus? Oh, where are you going? Where are you going? Like just having a conversation instead of being like, 'you're under my house and I'm going to take good care of you and oh my gosh,' and kind of the way that that Blanche talks to him in the very beginning. If that makes sense.
Yeah, no. And I think it's really cool to see that, sort of, tough love, kind of like, 'what are you really doing here?' as a maternal characteristic' because I think that the discipline -- the disciplinarian aspect of it is often written into like the fathers, or I guess the male characters. And so it's really cool to see Dorothy have that and then carry through the maternal piece that sort of seems to come more naturally to her than to Blanche, anyway.
That is such a great point. I'd never even thought about that about that before but that's that's exactly right. That's not often the role.
Yeah, I do love that, that interaction. And I, you know, I appreciate -- I love a wrap up. So I'm happy that Dorothy passed her French final. And you know, that Blanche also sort of gets to have this moment of like, confrontation with Janet, you know, and sort of acknowledging that she messed up, but also trying her best to stop the cycle from continuing. You know, when Sophia -- when David says he's gonna live there and the girls are like, oh, okay, 'call his mother!'
'Call his mother!' I love it. Also, it is interesting too, because yeah, they're all like, okaaaaaay, which is absolutely straight up and Rose says it -- she's like, we're grandmothers, this isn't fair.
Yeah, we don't want to live with a 14-year-old.
For real, you know, at least it's not a baby.
Or a pig!
Yeah, exactly as they contemplate so many times in the upcoming episodes. But no, but I -- it is also very touching because at the end, they do come around and Dorothy says like, hey, you can come here whenever you want, you have a place to be safe. You have a place where when the when shit really gets bad, you know, like that we can be a solace for you and then you know, they basically tell Blanche like we're in it for you -- like, if you're really going to do it, we'll help you. And that's, that's going back to that chosen family piece, right? Like, they are -- they do for family, and that includes the three of them, not just Blanche.
Oh, yeah. Maybe I don't hate it. I'll tell you. I'll come around. But I love the next one. Love, love, love the next one.
Oh my gosh. Yes. Well the next one is amazing. So we're going to discuss Viking funerals and staking major life decisions on bowling tournaments.
What fun! All right, buhbye!