The Daily Stream: The Golden Girls Is The Only Cure For Aging We Need

The Series: "The Golden Girls"

Where You Can Stream It: Hulu

The Pitch: "The Golden Girls" follows the antics of three single women in their fifties. There's divorced no-nonsense teacher Dorothy (Bea Arthur), flirtatious Southern widow Blanche (Rue McClanahan), and air-headed Midwestern widow Rose (Betty White), along with Dorothy's mother, Sophia (Estelle Getty). These four very different women share a Florida home, where they often commune, argue, and reminisce over slices of cheesecake at their kitchen table. The series runs the gamut of sitcom plots across its seven seasons, with recurring plots about the women's dating lives and worries about their grown children. But the best "The Golden Girls" plots address aging with honesty, grace, and optimism, talking frankly about topics like health scares, the passing of friends, and a changing relationship with one's own body and sexuality.

Why It's Essential Viewing

When I talk to people about "The Golden Girls," there's one refrain I hear more than any other, and it's one I wholeheartedly agree with. The show is better than just about anything else at making people feel okay about aging. We can learn as much as we can about the topic, or avoid it altogether, but the fact remains that most of us who haven't already will grow old someday. Something about seeing our Golden Girls do it, and maintain their friendships, sex lives, career goals, and zest for life in the process, makes the future feel a lot less scary. It's a show that rewards rewatches, as plot points will connect different to viewers at different phases of their lives.

Despite some parts that have aged poorly (the show's fatphobia is rampant and painful to watch), "The Golden Girls" is also a deeply humane sitcom. The show can throw together a silly episode about Rose babysitting a chicken, then turn around and deliver something like "Dorothy's Prized Pupil," a thoughtful episode about the experiences of an undocumented immigrant (played by young Mario Lopez!). The series treats its progressive streak as second nature in a way that few series are willing to do now; often, characters don't even discuss whether or not they're doing the right thing, but just do it.

"The Golden Girls" never gets lost in didacticism, though, as its talented writers value a great punchline above all else. That's the other thing: "The Golden Girls" is screamingly funny in a way that still hits today, due in large part to the cast's considerable comedic chops. The series mines the myth of St. Olaf, Rose's bizarre and goofy hometown, for seven seasons of laughter and never once hits the bottom of the barrel thanks to White's game delivery. No one can drop a withering take-down like Bea Arthur's Dorothy, while McClanahan's dirty-minded Blanche tests the limits of '80s prime-time with gusto. And as Sophia, a little old lady with no filter, Getty is the cherry on top of this perfect cast.

With insight, humor, and one of the most dynamic casts in sitcom history, "The Golden Girls" is the best kind of comfort viewing, even 30 years after its final episodes aired.