Cheesecake Studies: The Golden Girls, According to Academia

Cristen Conger

Courtesy: Pinterest

Debuting on NBC in 1985, "The Golden Girls" remains a rare primetime sitcom led by an aging female ensemble. Nearly 20 years later, it continues to perform well in syndication, and even get name-dropped in current shows starring actors young enough to be Sophia Petrillo's great grandchildren. And, as if the 15 Emmys it won over its seven-year run isn't proof enough of its pop cultural significance, academics have even stepped out of their ivory towers onto the lanai to consider the deeper meanings of cheesecake chats and exclamations of "condoms, condoms, condoms!"

Granted, "The Golden Girls" hasn't received nearly the scholarly attention showered upon four also-white women living on the other side of the country in New York City. But that only makes the handful of Golden Girls studies Caroline and I were able to dig up for our full-length podcast on Sophia, Dorothy, Rose and Blanche even more satisfying to read and revel in their intensive (and sometimes outright wacky) analyses of the show's 180 episodes.

Sitcoms in a League of Their Own: A Critical Analysis of Situational Feminism in The Golden Girls and Sex and the City.Elizabeth A. Glatzer. Boston College. 2010.

Although the women of Sex and the City are of a different demographic than the women of The Golden Girls, the four types of personalities present in The Golden Girls are the same four personalities exhibited by the characters of Sex and the City. From this observation emerge the pairs of: Dorothy/ Miranda; Blanche/Samantha; Rose/Charlotte; and Sophia/Carrie.

Myths of Sex, Love and Romance of Older Women in the Golden Girls.Jo Anna Grant and Heather L. Hundley. Critical Thinking about Sex, Love, and Romance in Mass Media. Routlege. 2007.

...Because Blache disclosed that she had take boudoir pictures for 20 to 30 men, we know she had considered countless candidates. Further, the laugh tracks that followed this dialogue serve as an indication that Blanche really does not believe that "the one" exists. She truly exhibited the antithesis of "finding the one" with 45 men littered throughout her history."

The Golden Girls Share Signature Stories: Narratives of Aging, Identity, and Communal Desire. Christyne A. Berzenski. Americana: The Journal of American Popular Culture, 1900 to the Present. Fall 2010.

While reflecting typical attitudes about gender, The Golden Girls also promotes positive ways of aging in all four characters through their strength, love, intelligence, and enduring commitment to friends. As the show's theme song, "Thank You for Being a Friend" pronounces, the greatest gift is friendship. Ultimately, they assert the greatest reassurance one can ask for: not to be left alone.

And last, but certainly not least...

Golden Girls: Female Archetypal Patterns of the Complete Woman. Anne N. Kaler. Journal of Popular Culture. 1990.

The show is a success because of its essential recognition of the four-fold nature of human personality, typified by each of the characters -- virgin, spouse, mother and wise woman...While all these aspects fluctuate among the characters of the Golden Girls, the easiest way to categorize them is through the Greco-Roman triad of Dorothy as the Athena/Minerva figure, Rose as the virginal Kore/Artemis/Diana, Blanche as the Aphrodite/Venus, and Sophia as the dual Sybil/Hecate/Juno aspect... Courtesy: tumblr