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The Golden Girls: Why We Need Shows That Celebrate Women Navigating Life at 50+

Picture it: America, 1985. NBC debuted a new form of comedy: four women who live together and comically navigate love, loss, and career changes. The catch was three of the women were 50 years old and one woman was 80 years old. For seven years, The Golden Girls graced television sets, making audience members keel over with laughter as Dorothy (Bea Arthur), Rose (Betty White), Blanche (Rue McClanahan), and Sophia (Estelle Getty) went about their lives.

The beloved and classic series is groundbreaking in a multitude of ways. First, the cast was age-appropriate, meaning the actors playing 50- or 80-year-olds were around those ages themselves, except for Getty, whose makeup was done so that she could appear to be 80. Second, death and dying were dealt with in a believable way for those whose social circle lessens due to death. Finally, love, divorce, and children that are also adults are often driving forces for each character. When one show is able to tackle topics like ageism, love, and death all while making people laugh, it proves more shows like it can be as successful. As such, here’s why we need The Golden Girls and other shows that celebrate women navigating life over 50.

Age Appropriate Actors
Ageism is one of the most prevalent issues in Hollywood, crossing other issues like racism, anti-LGBTQIA, and sexism rather frequently, according to The Panel. The entertainment industry’s obsession with youth often prevents shows and films from casting age appropriate actresses, especially if the character in question is a woman over 40 years old. Despite claims that actors are cast based on their age, it’s actually quite the opposite when it comes to women. Yet, the most extraordinary element of The Golden Girls lies in each actress’ real ages being between 50-60 while also playing characters who were in their 50s. Until The Golden Girls, TV shows rarely featured a main female character, let alone four main characters who were in their 50s, single, and who were divorced or widowed.

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