The Golden Girls: The ultimate binge guide
The beloved series is now on Hulu, so travel down the road and back again
With all seven seasons of the beloved series about four feisty Miami grandmas finally available to stream on Hulu (Feb. 13), travel down the road and back again with our handy viewing guide. (Cheesecake not included.)
Miami Vice with older women. That was the concept NBC asked exec producers Tony Thomas and Paul Junger Witt (Soap) to riff on for a new comedy (working title: Miami Nice). Witt wasn’t too keen on writing it but knew someone who would be — his producing partner and wife, Susan Harris. “All he had to say was ‘older people’ and I said yes,” Harris recalls. “Older people really have stories to tell.” Seven seasons’ worth, apparently. The Golden Girls — starring Beatrice Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty as four gals rooming together in Florida — debuted Sept. 14, 1985. The series was a hit with critics and viewers, and despite its comedic pedigree, it never shied away from provocative topics like AIDS, menopause, and interracial marriage. “It was always our desire to tackle things that hadn’t been tackled, no matter how controversial,” says Harris. That approach paid off: The series earned 11 Emmys, including one each for its four leading ladies. But for Harris, the awards pale in comparison to the show’s true legacy: “The most important thing is to have let people know that there are all forms of family—and you don’t have to be alone.”
Character Episode Guides
Blanche Devereaux (played by Rue McClanahan)
It all starts with this sultry Southern belle, who places an ad looking for roommates after her husband George’s death. She doesn’t stay roommateless (or single) for long.
“Blanche and the Younger Man”
Season 1, Episode 9
Long before a cougar was anything other than a mountain cat, Blanche sinks her claws into a hunky aerobics instructor several years her junior.
“The Accurate Conception”
Season 5, Episode 3
Blanche’s daughter Rebecca (Debra Engle) pays a visit to tell Mom she’ll soon have a new grandchild…via artificial insemination.
“Mrs. George Devereaux”
Season 6, Episode 9
Blanche’s dearly departed husband returns (or does he?!?) after faking his own death. Plus, roommate Dorothy is caught in the middle of a love triangle with actor Lyle Waggoner and Sonny Bono.
“Journey to the Center of Attention”
Season 7, Episode 18
Blanche’s worst nightmare comes true when the male patrons of her favorite watering hole, the Rusty Anchor, take a shine to — gasp! — Dorothy.
Dorothy Zbornak (played by Beatrice Arthur)
For this Brooklyn-bred divorcée and substitute teacher, her sharp tongue often belies a soft heart (except when it comes to ex-husband Stan).
Season 1, Episode 11
After being dumped by his (much younger) new wife, Stan (Herbert Edelman) shows up on Dorothy’s doorstep. She gives him a little too much sympathy (if you know what we mean).
“Sick and Tired: Parts 1 and 2”
Season 5, Episodes 1 and 2
In a two-parter inspired by Harris’ own bout with a mystery illness, Dorothy visits doctor after doctor trying to get a diagnosis for her symptoms, only to be told it’s all in her head.
“The Case of the Libertine Belle”
Season 7, Episode 2
Dorothy’s powers of deduction and love for Raymond Chandler are tested during a murder-mystery weekend. It was the floozy…in the bedroom…with the steak knife?!
“One Flew Out of the Cuckoo’s Nest: Parts 1 and 2”
Season 7, Episodes 25 and 26
After seven years and countless cheesecakes, Dorothy moves out to marry Blanche’s uncle Lucas (Leslie Nielsen) in a bittersweet series finale.
Sophia Petrillo (played by Estelle Getty)
Dorothy’s octogenarian mother moves in with the women after her nursing home, Shady Pines, burns down, bringing with her plenty of Sicilian smarts and sass.
“Long Day’s Journey Into Marinara”
Season 2, Episode 19
When Sophia’s sister Angela moves to Miami, Sophia becomes convinced she’s trying to steal her beau — who, with all his hair and teeth intact, is the eightysomething equivalent of Tom Cruise.
“Sophia’s Wedding: Parts 1 and 2”
Season 4, Episodes 6 and 7
Over the course of two episodes, Sophia becomes a newlywed and a business owner. Both endeavors go up in flames (one quite literally).
Season 4, Episode 22
When Sophia learns her friend Lillian (Ellen Albertini Dow) is living in an even worse nursing home than the dreaded Shady Pines, she hatches a scheme to steal her away. (Think Prison Break with fewer tattoos and more Geritol.)
“An Illegitimate Concern”
Season 5, Episode 18
Sophia and Dorothy enter a mother-daughter pageant at Shady Pines. Their Sonny & Cher impression is the stuff GIFs were made for.
Rose Nylund (played by Betty White)
With her homespun tales of life in St. Olaf, Minn., the widow earns something of a dumb-blonde reputation. (But could she secretly be the wisest one of the bunch?)
“Rose the Prude”
Season 1, Episode 3
To sex or not to sex? That is the question 15-years-abstinent Rose faces when she’s invited on a romantic cruise by beau Arnie (Harold Gould, who returns later in the series as Rose’s love interest Miles).
“Isn’t It Romantic”
Season 2, Episode 5
It takes naive Rose nearly the full half hour to realize Dorothy’s friend Jean (Lois Nettleton) has a crush on her. (Her first clue should have been when Jean listened so rapturously to those St. Olaf stories…)
“Bringing Up Baby”
Season 3, Episode 3
Given her upbringing, it’s fitting that Rose’s plotlines often involve livestock, but in this one, after inheriting a pig, she earns Dorothy’s and Blanche’s interest when they learn big bucks are attached to that bacon.
Season 4, Episode 4
Rose wins St. Olaf’s Woman of the Year honor, taking the Girls on an epic journey to her hometown. But finding themselves in the midst of a real-life St. Olaf story is almost too much for them to bear.
Total Time to Binge All Seven Seasons
72 hours 21 minutes
About That Theme Song
With its plucky opening strains and jaunty lyrics about the power of friendship, it’s hard to believe “Thank You for Being a Friend” wasn’t tailor-made for the NBC series, but the catchy tune actually predates The Golden Girls by several years. Written and recorded by Andrew Gold for his 1978 pop-rock album All This and Heaven Too, the song hit No. 25 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 that year — not bad for a ditty Gold would later recall he wrote in “about an hour.” It was re-recorded for the show by jingle singer Cynthia Fee, and we’ve been humming along ever since.
The Golden Girls