Well, we’ve lost another one.
As of last week, we are down to one Golden Girl left on this mortal coil. When we lose Betty White, that will be a fond farewell to a human loogie in the face of the very idea of ageism.
My heart lies with Betty for a multitude of reasons, all of which I’ve expanded upon ad nauseum. Bea Arthur’s Dorothy was smarter than she was pretty, a rarity in television, and could deliver bitchy one-liners like no one else. Sophia was brutally honest and slightly hateful, and when others say, “Oh, I’m such a Carrie” or “I’m such a Miranda,” I say, “I’m such a Sophia.”
And then there was Rue.
Rue McClanahan’s Blanche Devereaux wasn’t just an amusing part of a great cast of characters; she was a trailblazer. It’s common understanding that without Blanche, there would be no Samantha Jones, but without Blanche, there would really be no television portrayal of sexuality past the age of 40, and let’s face it, even the 40-year-olds are usually parents making awkward references to the sex they once had/plan to have soon before they are interrupted by their affable/annoying children who are the real focal points of the program.
Blanche was sexy and smart – something you rarely see on television, even today. Anyone can be a sex object at 26. It takes a proper lady to pull it off at 56. She was the original cougar, the original MILF, the original “I own my sexuality” female, and she was awesome.
Were The Golden Girls a lesser show, and Blanche a lesser written character, it would be easy enough to just write her off as the slut. Hell, I’ve spoken my disdain for the movies, but I adored (most of – right up until Carrie’s book deal) the TV show Sex and the City and even I can say that Samantha was the worst written character and that she was, in fact, just the slut. Blanche was better than that. Blanche had a history, a backstory. A Southern princess widow with real vulnerability and insecurities who would do anything for a friend – and we thanked her for being one.
Blanche Devereaux was a truly empowering female character, perhaps one of the best and strongest of all time.
This naturally got me thinking about the other important and life-building female characters of my existence. These ladies – for better or worse – made me who I am, having as big a hand in shaping my worldview as “real” people. And I thank them all.
Daria Morgendorffer and Jane Lane I finally got around to buying the Daria: The Complete Series DVD set (lady’s been poor – you’ll be shocked to know that writing bitchy things about celebrities doesn’t drop the millions you’d assume). It arrived Monday, and, as I write this, it is now Sunday and I’ve completed all 65 episodes and two movies. I’d of course never forgotten how much I identified with these two, but this epic re-watch is like remembering some of the darker moments from high school: You look back kind of sad, with this sensation of who you used to be, knowing that’s not who you are anymore, but with the same feelings you had then. You still loathe the mean girls who made fun of you and the boys who ignored you. You’re still ashamed at the times you weren’t as nice as you should have been to those who needed it. You hate yourself for the way you acted to get a guy to like you, or make your friends think you were cool. But then you remember the one person who understood you, and it makes it all okay. Those people, for me, were Daria and Jane. Watching this show is remembering two great friends. I walked around, never feeling like I really fit any one place, and so did they – they were just funnier.
Willow Rosenberg Entertainment Weekly just did an issue wherein they listed the 100 Greatest Characters of the Last 20 Years. Number three was Buffy Summers. I was naturally pretty thrilled, but any Buffy fan knows that the other characters made that show. I’m not an SMG hater by any means – Buffy wasn’t exactly Mean Girls where the lead is completely outshone by her co-stars. Buffy was awesome. I love Buffy. Buffy IS the show. But the rest of the team – the Scoobies, Angel and Spike, Anya and the rest – except Riley because fuck Riley – were what made the show work. And Willow was its beating heart. Nerdy and struggling to find herself throughout the entire run of the series, she could be alternately comfortable with who she was and completely questioning everything. Willow was the best friend who thought she was weak but was the strongest fighter of them all. On my best days, I wish I were Willow. I still hate Kennedy though.
These characters, all three deceased – killed by cancellation – live on in the hearts of the fans. Just like Rue. We’ll miss you, ma’am. Thank you for being a friend, not to mention an icon.
Next week, I’ll have another installment of Regretful Adoration Theater just for you (as I intend to at least every other week this summer). Two words: Super. Punch.
Courtney Enlow is a writer living in Chicago and working as a corporate shill to pay the bills. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.