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These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
YMMV: The Golden Girls
Anvilicious/Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: Like a lot of shows of the era, it's given something of a pass for its occasional heavy-handedness; since it tackled such hot-button issues for the time, it didn't really have the luxury of being subtle.
The Running Gag where Sophia would talk about how bad her retirement home was and how she was mistreated there was always played for laughs, but in a later episode in which the girls deal with actual elder abuse not played for laughs, Sophia admits that she wasn't all too serious about Shady Pines.
Jokes about Sophia's forgetfulness felt very different after Estelle Getty's Alzheimer's diagnosis.
Blanche's constant lying about her age were always played for laughs. Then came an episode where we find out that she is suffering from depression out of fear of growing old. Knowing this makes all those jokes about her age seem more sad than funny.
One episode has Blanche force her young granddaughter into participating in a beauty pageant she had no interest in. Currently there is a Reality TV series by the name of Toddlers & Tiaras, in which is this taken Up to Eleven.
Harsher in Hindsight: At the end of an episode where Sophia rescues a friend from a nursing home, the girls make a pact to take care of each other, and Rose asks, "What happens when there's only one of us left?" Cut to 2011, where Betty White (Rose) actually is the only one of them left. It goes even further: in the show, after that line, Sophia (the oldest character) mentions "Don't worry, I can take care of myself." In real life, Estelle Getty (Sophia), who was younger than both Bea Arthur and Betty White, was the first to go.
This trope's not even limited to the main cast. "It's a Miserable Life" and "'Til Death Do We Volley" are harder to watch now that Nan Martin and Anne Francis have passed away.
An In-Universe version is in an earlier episode when Blanche's younger sister/sometimes rival Virginia is coming to town, Rose chides her in disbelief and absolutely refuses to believe that she hates her sister. A few seasons later, we meet Rose's own younger sister Holly, of whom Rose admits, "I feel terrible saying this, but I don't really like her." Holly's terrible treatment of Rose is notPlayed for Laughs, and she makes Virginia look like a Girl Scout by comparison.
Hilarious in Hindsight: In a special two-part episode, Rose (Betty White) had a heart attack and had to stay in the hospital and was looped out (moreso than usual) on prescription medication. In a scene with her daughter, Rose yells "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night!" in her delirium. Fast forward to 2010, where, thanks to publicity from a Facebook petition, Betty White did get to host SNL, becoming the show's oldest host (at age 88 and a half), the first SNL host to be picked via online petitionnote but not the first to be picked by viewers; that honor goes to Miskel Spillman, who won the "Anyone Can Host SNL" contest — and was considered the oldest host the show ever had until Betty White usurped the title — back in 1977, and the second cast member from The Golden Girls to host SNL. (Bea Arthur was the first, hosting a season five episode in 1979, but this was before The Golden Girls was created.)
With all the jokes about how masculine Dorothy was, it's funny to hear about Bea Arthur's stint in the Marine Corps.
Dorothy's quote in "Fiddler on the Ropes": "Blanche! Everlast is a brand name, not a nickname!".
Dorothy and Sophia's musical act as Sonny and Cher provided a double-whammy. Sonny Bono would guest-star in a sixth season episode. Also, Blanche asked them which one was Cheech and which one was Chong. Cheech Marin would later costar on Golden Palace.
Hollywood Homely: Dorothy's looks are frequently mocked on the show, with some people even reacting to her like she's downright ugly. She's actually pretty average-looking.
Hollywood Pudgy: Blanche and Rose are frequently the target of barbs about their weight even though they look exactly the way two middle-aged women who have had several children would look. In another episode, when Blanche's daughter Becky visits, she is overweight but the others react as though she's morbidly obese. (Of course, her weight issues are later retconned when the actress is replaced.)
Ironically, Betty White has no children (though she has three stepchildren from her marriage to Allen Ludden), and Rue McClanahan had only one. The trope still rings very true, however.
Idiot Plot: There have been several, but one memorable one was the episode "Little Sister" with Rose's untrustworthylittle sister. Holly comes to town and deliberately excludes Rose from all the plans she makes with Dorothy and Blanche, claiming to be giving Rose the information but keeping it from her so she misses out on everything. Rose notices what's happening and tries to tell the girls; but instead of believing their longtime friend and surrogate sister, they are both quick to dismiss her suspicions, siding with a complete stranger and telling her to leave them out of whatever was going on between her and Holly. Only Sophia believes her.
Mondegreen: "You would see the biggest gift would be from me/And the heart attack would say 'Thank you for being a friend'" ("And the card attached would say")
Periphery Demographic: This show was - and continues to be - very popular with young people. Betty White, when asked why that might be, gave the simplest (and probably most accurate) explanation: "It's funny!"
Many younger viewers likely grew up watching the constant reruns of The Golden Girls on Lifetime Network with their own moms and became fans themselves.
The series also has a huge gay following, but that's probably because the show was very gay-conscious even at a time when it wasn't acceptable. Besides Coco in the pilot, there are entire episodes dealing with AIDS, crossdressing, gay marriage, coming out, accepting gay family members, and one that addressed non-family members trying to see their loved ones in the hospital. On a less serious note, the snarky dialogue and Blanche's proud promiscuity didn't hurt either.
A young Paul Rodriguez, at the time just barely hitting the comedy circuit, played a disgruntled bellhop in the S2 episode "Vacation."
In the episode "Brother, Can You Spare That Jacket?" Sophia donates a jacket that Blanche has placed winning lottery tickets in to the Salvation Army. Michael Jackson happens to pop by the Salvation Army and wears it for his show, and they must find where it is located. Michael himself joked about this show with his friends for years later, and recorded instances can be seen on Youtube.
Some of Rose's St. Olaf stories were like this. When she told the very sappy story of how her family spent Christmas Eve, Dorothy Lampshaded it by snapping, "Who was your father, Rose, Michael Landon?"
Rose herself was like this, especially in earlier episodes, to the point where she could sometimes get downright annoying. Dorothy's son's future mother-in-law outright asked if Rose was for real.