The television show the “Golden Girls” aired in the early nineties at a time when many shows were steering clear of LGBT issues. Yet, they touched on these and many other controversial subjects, such as drugs, sexual issues and HIV/AIDS. But even 25 years later it is hard to realize how groundbreaking they were. We have yet to put our fears aside because of things and ideas we do not understand. After all of these years we are still not able to move forward in accepting people and situations for what they are.
In one particular episode of the “Golden Girls” that aired in 1991 Blanche cannot understand why her brother Clayton would want to marry another man. Sophia explains that the love Blanche had for her husband is the same love Doug has for his partner. They too should have a chance to live their life together. Eventually, Clayton and his partner Doug do end of married.
This wasn’t the only time the show touched on the issues of transgender or homosexuality. Coco, the flamboyant cook, was featured in the pilot episode and Dorothy had a cross-dressing heterosexual brother that was mentioned many times during the series run.
In another episode that pushed the limits, we meet a friend of Dorothy’s who also happens to be a lesbian and has taken quite a liking to unsuspecting Rose. While this show tackled serious issues, it was done with warmth, compassion and plenty of laughter.
The “Golden Girls” did not make fun of, but rather the writers used the jokes as a way to show the audience that these subjects are part of our everyday life and come with all the emotional baggage that our “normal” lives do. We do not need to fear them and they do not need to be put away in a closet, not to be spoken off. By treating LGBT issues with the same lightheartedness that we would everything else, we bring it into the forefront and make it the norm.
The “Golden Girls” could have just been a sitcom about old ladies living out their remaining years. Instead, executive producer Susan Harris pushed the limits and made it a show that tackled situations that needed to be seen and heard. That is their legacy.