Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Stealth Reboot of Golden Girls Idea

Reboots are terrible. They really destroy the original. it's not just the weaker version, it's all the wink wink to originals for the fanboys and then the inevitable poz. Prog them out and ruin memories. I'm writing today to offer a reboot without declaring it a reboot. Let's call it a stealth reboot. Let's stealth reboot The Golden Girls.

What was the Golden Girls? It was the '80s sitcom about four old ladies living in one house in Florida, running into hijinks, love, adventure and soaked in estrogen. Golden Girls was technically Maude 2. Bea Arthur came back and played a sarcastic ethnic white from New York, and this time with even older and connected to the old country mother in tow. In Maude, she was married (on her 4th husband) and middle age, and in Golden Girls she was elderly and divorced. It is one long Jewish feminist life story played out over two sitcoms.

But wait, wasn't she Italian on Golden Girls? Sure. Really she was a stand-in ethnic white, and it is forgotten now but the '70s and '80s pop culture was often focused on ethnic whites and their hijinks or differences. How much of Madonna's shock was an ethnic white girl from the city being pushed as sexy and acceptable even if overt as a sex symbol to WASPs? Bea Arthur plays the same feminist crypto-Jew in Maude (a Norman Lear creation) and Golden Girls. They cite in Golden Girls how she went to college... in the '50s. Doesn't seem Italian to me.

Pardon the tangent, but one could also look at the other two younger leads, Blanche and Rose, as later extensions of prior characters they played. Blanche, played by Rue McClanahan, is a sexually charged vamp, while Rose, played by betty White, is the ditz. If you look at their TV pasts, McClanahan played the cute ditzy neighbor on Maude and Rose played the middle aged vamp on the Mary Tyler Moore Show. While they switched types, one could argue a sex crazed party girl type could easily devolve into an airhead while an airhead might accrue enough street smarts through her attractiveness to men to become a confident vamp in old age.

The genius behind the Golden Girls is that it hits the mid-20th Century female archetypes on the head. There is the ethnic white street smart type (Bea Arthur), the country bumpkin who is sweet, dopey and cute (Betty White), and the sexy Southern belle (Rue McClanahan). There is the older, wiser female who doesn't quite get the younger elderly ladies as well (Estelle Getty). Airing on Saturday nights, this show might as well been called "HEY GREATEST GENERATION, HERE'S LOOKING AT YOU". An additional bonus is that the men they are often being paired up with or who are portrayed as good romantic leads are overwhelmingly WASP men who are masculine, debonair and have it together. It all comes together in Miami, Florida, which is not a home for any of them.

Have you ever watched the show as an adult? It is a classic A-B-C story arc sitcom with the fourth lead being a foil for the primary arc with older actresses. It has plenty of ethnic and vulgar jokes. It's riddled with sex jokes. It even has poz. Rue McLanahan has an episode where she finds out her son is gay. Sorry, but TV has always pushed the poz. Listen to the lyrics of Maude's theme song. On one episode of Maude, Maude and her careerist friend act out a two woman play over neither having it all and having to respect each's life choices. This was mid-'70s. It was a false feminist choice middle and upper middle class Boomers were facing but portrayed as on their mothers. Golden Girls is crass and is full of jokes on small town life via Betty White's character. This gets forgotten because honestly, those women had great timing and chemistry on camera. It gets forgotten because they were old ladies. There are also vaudevillian episodes of flashbacks which basically amount to 3-4 sketches that could include quick set ups or very well done monologues. That takes talent.

Now you see the stealth reboot. You don't say you're rebooting Golden Girls but you do so. "Picture It: Austin 2016." You set a show in a hipster city with three Millenial women in their late 20s and one of the Millenials older Gen-X divorced sister living with them. The Texas girl owns the place (bought for by her parents), and the country bumpkin from flyover trying to make it in Austin moves in. There is the sarcastic ethnic white who has her job transferred from NYC/LA/SanFran to Austin. Older divorced sister was already there, which is why she agreed to the transfer*.

On Golden Girls, they loosely had jobs and met men every episode. It can be the same thing here. Only one of them has a real job (ethnic white), and they live the shitty job and rotating men Millenial life. Screenwriters could just lift entire episodes of Golden Girls scripts and use them with slightly updated references and jokes. It works too because the arrested development, distractions and malaise that is associated with Millenials oddly fits the widow elderly class of yesteryear. No purpose but to have fun. This also works over other Millenial shows because we'd be identifying only one as the sex obsessed friend.  Lena Dunham's Girls has a group of unrestrained sex toys (even the fat one), which hurts classification and identification with characters because they all kind of blend into "urbanite slut".

This is a winner. It would never get made, but it'd work. Despite being a wretched woman, Margaret Cho did once have a comic bit that cut right to the heart of a small circle of female friends. Golden Girls fit this triangle. In any group of three female friends, there's the sweet one, the smart one, and then there's the ho.

*Okay, there is NO WAY they'd let me get away with casting 4 100% white characters, so I'd have to find a way around it.

Ethnic white lead + older gen-X sister - Cashews - Jew mom/Catholic dad. This way they can be fiercely anti-religion just like Bill Maher.
Texas sexy chick - White Hispanic. Give her a white dad and tejano mom.
Flyover girl - white


Laguna Beach Fogey said...

I barely remember seeing the show as a kid in the '80s. I do remember the sassy little elderly lady, and the way the other characters ridiculed White's Scandinavian Upper Midwest character.

Funnily enough, today I know a young Millennial man (straight, successful, raised by single mom) who loves The Golden Girls and binge watches it on weekends. He says he finds it raunchy and funny.

Hit me up when you're in LA to pitch your show. I'd love to meet for a cocktail or three.

Stacy Garvey said...

Sorry, mostly off topic. I re-watched the Christian Bale movie Laurel Canyon yesterday & wanted to rewrite/film the very last scene to improve it. It would be Bale's character purchasing an AR15 and murdering his family & fiancee.

Corn said...

I'm not a Golden Girls fan myself but the humor does seem to hold over well with younger women. My younger sister (born in '81 so late Xer or early Millenial) loves the Golden Girls, frequently watching reruns or DVDs. More than one of her girlfriends are fans of the show as well.

Anonymous said...

think they beat you to it Hot in Cleveland pretty much runs the same formula and even had Betty White