Monday, April 27, 2009

Remembering Bea

[Bea Arthur]

I didn't want to start this post with lyrics from "Thank You For Being a Friend," because, frankly, I'm tired of the deluge of media folk referencing that song. I actually didn't know how to start this post. I've watched "Golden Girls" since 1990, when I was 5 years old and used to snuggle up to my g-ma and watch GG and "Empty Nest" back to back after the 10 o'clock news on Channel 5. The room would be ice cold (we're Southerners. No heat gets in our home.) and my granny would have on her silky nightgown. She would cackle all throughout the thirty minute episodes. I would laugh too, but mostly at the facial expressions or physical stuff, since I had no idea what menopause, Fez Parker or impotence meant.

Between 1990 and today, I have never stopped watching that show. Reruns on Lifetime, then I bought the DVDs, plus watching them on YouTube, the show is just as much alive to me (and many of my Black, 20-something friends) today as it was in the 80s and 90s.

As I got older, it wasn't just Dorothy's deep voice or Rose's confused expression that made me laugh; I started to understand the jokes. Rose was even more naive than I was in seventh grade. Blanche was waaaay too hot in the pants to be post-menopausal. Dorothy and Sophia were the funniest mother/daughter duo I've ever seen on screen.

So, of course I was deeply saddened when Estelle Getty, famous for playing little, minxy Sophia, passed away. And when my sister texted me Saturday afternoon that Bea Arthur was gone, I was gone. I had dug up my first season DVDs earlier that day out of boredom and was watching the hilarity that started it all when I heard the news. I wonder if, by some strange chance, my deep, deep devotion to the show had led me to those episodes? Don't laugh, it's possible!

How can I put into words how amazing Bea was? We all know she was funny and intelligent and unflinching in her portrayal of all sides of a woman. I wasn't aware until recently that she was a staunch supporter of AIDS awareness and animal rights. Ashleigh told me that she also hated cheesecake. Really?!

She was my favorite Golden Girl, the one who I most identified with. And, since many other bloggers have echoed the same sentiment, I'd be willing to guess that she was the most popular; probably because she was everywoman, in a way.

Before "Sex and the City," before "Living Single," before "Girlfriends," there were four single ladies living it up in a stucco house in Miami, eating cheesecake, telling stories, sharing joys and pain, for the world to see. Age was only a state of mind for them, as they were as active and vital as anyone else running across the primetime screen.

It goes without saying that I am mourning the loss of Bea, and what she represents.

Read other tributes to her:

Jezebel: Bea Arthur's Top 5 Contributions To Pop Culture
NPR: Cheers to 'Maude' Bea Arthur
The Cynical Ones: Bye, Bea
Afrobella: RIP Bea Arthur

-- Whitney

1 comment:

Britt said...

The show is exceptional. If we are lucky, we will all live to be old and I loved that it didn't put older women in a box. It showed that you can still be fly at 60+.