Why "The Golden Girls" Is (Still) One of The Most Important TV Shows, Ever

In 1985, a TV show about four older women living together in Miami premiered on NBC. With 44 million viewers of the pilot episode, the show shot to No. 1 in the ratings, and remained in the Top 10 for the next five seasons, going off the air in 1992. "The Golden Girls" opened up dialogues never before seen on TV, tackled issues others wouldn't even mention, and remains iconic to this day, not least because of its writer, Susan Harris. A powerhouse of American TV for 20 years, Harris was approached with the idea of writing a show about four older women and was intrigued because "older appealed to [her,] because old people have stories and young people didn’t."

                                     "The Golden Girls" is one of only three sitcoms where every performer in the main cast won an Emmy.

So why was the show such a trailblazer? Among other things, the show's frank discussions of sex, and sexually active (older!) women was unheard of at the time. All of the women, even the 80something Sophia, are depicted as sexually active adults who aren't ashamed, (or made to be ashamed,) of it. Sure, Blanche gets called a "cheap, wanton slut" on the regular, but those jokes were of the time. Sitting at a kitchen table sharing a cheesecake, Dorothy, Blanche, Rose and Sophia would have candid conversations about sex and love through a woman's perspective 13 years before "Sex and the City" would air. And not on HBO, no, these conversations were on primetime, cable television. And the people loved it.

The show dealt with plenty of controversial issues beyond sex. Blanche begins menopause but confuses it for a pregnancy scare. Dorothy tackles a gambling addiction. Sophia takes it upon herself to bust her dementia-riddled friend out of a terrible nursing home. In a particularly groundbreaking 1990 episode, Rose finds out she may have gotten infected with the AIDS virus from a blood transfusion when testing was still new and the disease was poorly understood and still highly stigmatized. All of these issues still remain somewhat taboo, even today, and the girls were openly discussing them 30 years ago.

But beyond the cultural implications of bringing these issues into the primetime slot, I think the show remains popular to this day because it paints a picture of genuine, loving, adult friendship between women. The girls think of themselves as a family; in fact, in several episodes, they explicitly mention that although they may not be the typical American household, they consider themselves as such, and just because only Dorothy and Sophia are the only blood relatives should not devalue their love for each other. Although the show went off the air nearly 30 years ago, we can all still learn a thing or two from these ladies.