Unfortunately, it’s time for a Rue McClanahan tribute. When Bea Arthur died, I mentioned her character Dorothy was really the heart of the show. Well, if that’s the case, then Blanche was the show’s libido, the backdrop for the vital sexual essence that made “The Golden Girls” so very risque and continues to do so. In that post, I provided a list of what I considered to be the top 3 “Dorothy” episodes of The Golden Girls, so here is my list of the top 3 “Blanche” episodes:
Many of the “Blanche” story lines center around Blanche’s obsession with preserving her looks and sex appeal into old age. She considers plastic surgery, dates younger men, and wrestles with her past as a beautiful Southern Belle. In this episode, the first of the second season, she deals with the onset of menopause.
“The Golden Girls” invariably portrays Blanche’s relationship with her own children as fraught: she relied heavily on a nanny to raise them and feels emotionally distant from them. One daughter (back in the 80’s, there were rarely consistent storylines on sitcoms – Blanche’s children come into existence on a writer’s whim and disappear just as easily) birthed a child through artificial insemination, leading to a mini-story arch within the show. However, I have chosen this particular episode to represent Blanche’s parental redemption, in which Blanche’s daughter “Rebecca” returns from being a model in Paris, no longer slim and beautiful, but now grossly overweight. Joey Regalbuto of “Murphy Brown” fame plays Rebecca’s abusive fiancé.
In this episode, Blanche tries to expand Dorothy’s social horizons by taking her out to the Rusty Anchor. At first awkward, Dorothy ends up becoming the favorite of the bar’s patrons, winning them over with her manly baritone. This late episode reveals a great deal about the complicated Blanche-Dorothy relationship. One might consider this episode a “Dorothy” episode, in that it allowed Bea Arthur a golden opportunity to show off her musical theater chops. However it also allowed Rue a unique opportunity (in the entire series) to show off her amazing talents as a physical comedienne. “The Golden Girls” is a show that is pervaded with the spirit of “I Love Lucy”, and I think it is no stretch to say that Rue was the most Lucy-esque of the four actresses. The singing revenge scene ranks right up with the best of Lucy’s disastrous night club turns at the Tropicana (it starts around 7 minutes into the second clip.)
In closing, here are two of Rue’s finest moments from the entire series, neither of which come from the above listed episodes: