Top 10 Best Golden Girls Episodes

by InaneSwine | created - 6 months ago | updated - 6 months ago | Public

A classic sitcom from the 80s/early 90s that, unfortunately, not enough of our generation have seen. It stars Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty as four mature ladies living in Miami. They constantly roast each other but, in typical sitcom style, constantly show each other how much they care for each other.

Quite ground-breaking for its time, it touched on issues that fewer other sitcoms did. These included addiction, HIV, homosexuality and menopause, to name a few. It tackled all these subjects and more in a sensitive yet hilarious fashion, and the writing featured was always second to none. Even though the plots may have gone a little wild sometimes, the one-liners and their delivery by the leading ladies was nothing short of hysterical.

So, I have listed what I believe are the ten best episodes of the show. There are 180 to choose from, so it was a pretty tough list, and I'm sure I've missed off some absolute corkers. Nonetheless, they're all fantastic in their own way, and they show just how cool growing older can be, and how funny too.

A spoiler alert is in force from this moment forward!

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1. The Golden Girls (1985–1992)
Episode: Sick and Tired: Part 2 (1989)

TV-PG | 30 min | Comedy, Drama

Dorothy learns that she has Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Director: Terry Hughes | Stars: Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan, Estelle Getty

Votes: 224

In this stirring two-part story, Dorothy falls ill with a mysterious disease. After months of poor health, she is finally diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, a disease rarely heard of or spoken about at the time the show aired. But before she gets to that point, she must endure the scepticism and downright rudeness of the medical professionals that are supposed to be caring for her.

Penned by series creator Susan Harris, who lives with CFS herself, it is an eye-opening insight into a debilitating condition, but also serves as a timeless critique of just how devastating an unkind word from a doctor can be to a person who suffers from one of many "invisible" illnesses. Bea Arthur's performance is restrained and sensitive, and the final scene in which Dorothy confronts a doctor, who was more interested in her hair colour and her marital status than her symptoms, is most damning of all, and remains some of the strongest writing of the show's seven seasons.

With all that going on, the comedy is never lost, as Harris manages to find humour in the situation. Moreover, the subplot involving Blanche's attempt at erotic novel-writing gives us what could be the funniest performances of Rue McClanahan's career.

Sick and Tired is a must-see for anybody who's ever had to prove their illness to someone, or simply for anyone who's a fan of damn good comedy.

2. The Golden Girls (1985–1992)
Episode: The Way We Met (1986)

TV-PG | 30 min | Comedy, Drama

The girls remember how they came to live together; Blanche put an ad for a room for rent on a grocery store bulletin board, and Rose and Dorothy answered it.

Director: Terry Hughes | Stars: Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan, Estelle Getty

Votes: 278

The final episode of the show's first season could easily be considered another pilot episode. After watching the Hitchcock horror Psycho, the girls are left terrified and unable to sleep. So, gathered round the kitchen table with an assortment of snacks (as usual), they begin to reminisce about how they all wound up living together.

Quintessential Golden Girls at its best, it is the perfect showcase for our leading ladies and the writers to show how four bickering, derisive characters could end up showing more love and warmth to each other and the audience than almost any other sitcom characters in TV history.

A particular stand-out scene for the episode, and indeed the entire series, is the final flashback scene, where the girls are brought together by one of Rose's ridiculous St. Olaf stories involving training herrings for the circus. Whether Arthur and McClanahan are just terrific actresses, or whether they actually corpsed during the scene is unclear. Either way, it's priceless.

3. The Golden Girls (1985–1992)
Episode: A Little Romance (1985)

TV-PG | 30 min | Comedy, Drama

Rose doesn't tell her friends that her boyfriend is a little person because she fears people will make fun of them.

Director: Terry Hughes | Stars: Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan, Estelle Getty

Votes: 311

An episode that would be highly unlikely to make it past the politically correct censors if it were written today, the thirteenth episode of the first season sees Rose fall in love with a wonderful psychiatrist, but finds herself embarrassed to have her closest friends find out he is a dwarf.

Even the least prejudiced and most staunchly PC among us would struggle not to laugh out loud at the gut-bustingly hilarious short jokes dotted throughout the episode. Nonetheless, the character of Jonathan - played by Brent Collins, a Marfan syndrome sufferer who passed away only a couple of years after the episode aired - is an inspiring symbol of overcoming what could have been a poor hand to be dealt, and the episode shows a highly progressive attitude towards a sensitive subject (even though his relationship with Rose ends due to his own prejudices).

But more than anything, who could forget Blanche's outrageous story of martyrdom, as she overcame her Southern pride in order to take a so-called "Yankee" to her senior prom.

4. The Golden Girls (1985–1992)
Episode: Ebbtide's Revenge (1990)

TV-PG | 30 min | Comedy, Drama

When Sophia's son Phil dies, she must deal with her animosity towards his widow, Angela.

Director: Matthew Diamond | Stars: Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan, Estelle Getty

Votes: 205

Not for the first time in the show's history, intolerance sadly rears its head as tragedy strikes. Dorothy's younger brother, Sophia's youngest child, Phil dies. As the funeral takes place, Sophia is forced to mourn alongside her daughter-in-law, whom she despises. As events unfold and exchanges grow more heated by the moment, the episode climaxes with Sophia's startling revelation of her shame in having a son who preferred to wear women's clothing. But ultimately, she professes her unequivocal love for her son, and her grief at the loss of her baby.

A truly heart-breaking episode, the performances of Bea Arthur and, in particular, Estelle Getty really show how the sitcom format can be elevated to an artform. I've always thought that the best sitcoms are those that can make you cry. The Golden Girls has more than earned that.

5. The Golden Girls (1985–1992)
Episode: High Anxiety (1989)

TV-PG | 30 min | Comedy, Drama

Rose tries to overcome her addiction to painkillers. Meanwhile, Dorothy and Sophia are hired to appear in a TV commercial for a pizzeria.

Director: Terry Hughes | Stars: Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan, Estelle Getty

Votes: 190

Rose Nylund spends so much time floating through the series making hilariously naive comments and telling nonsense stories about her hometown of St. Olaf that have nothing to do with anything, it could sometimes be difficult to remember that her character had several serious issues to deal with. From suffering with PTSD after a break-in at the house, to the nerve-wracking blood test to determine her HIV status after a botched transfusion.

In this season four episode, she and the girls confront her secret addiction to painkillers. It gives the writers the opportunity to show the love and support between our girls. It's heart-warming and, as always, very funny.

6. The Golden Girls (1985–1992)
Episode: Have Yourself a Very Little Christmas (1989)

TV-PG | 30 min | Comedy, Drama

The girls volunteer at a homeless shelter on Christmas day and learn that Stan has been thrown out on the streets by his current wife.

Director: Terry Hughes | Stars: Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan, Estelle Getty

Votes: 179

The inspirational season five Christmas episode sees the girls spending their holidays catering to the homeless at a food shelter. Unbeknownst to them, one of their customers will be Dorothy's ex-husband, played by Herb Edelman, who has fallen on particularly hard times.

Homelessness is an issue that The Golden Girls has tackled before, but the holiday spirit of the episode makes it especially touching. But, as always, humour always manages to flow throughout, as Rose wonders why Mary and Joseph didn't book their room at the inn in advance, knowing how busy the holiday season is.

7. The Golden Girls (1985–1992)
Episode: One Flew Out of the Cuckoo's Nest (1992)

TV-PG | 30 min | Comedy, Drama

As Dorothy and Lucas prepare to get married, they try to persuade Sophia to come live with them in Atlanta.

Director: Lex Passaris | Stars: Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan, Estelle Getty

Votes: 332

The final episode of the whole show allows us to witness a gloriously satisfying conclusion to Dorothy's story on the show. The least likely to get hitched during the show, she ends up falling in love with Blanche's uncle (played by the always wonderful Leslie Nielsen). After a few stumbling blocks (including being kidnapped by her ex-husband Stan), Dorothy's wedding goes off without a hitch, and she prepares to move on from her friends to start a new life.

To quote Rose, seven years of fights, laughter, secrets and cheesecake come to a most poignant conclusion. No acting was required as the girls make their final tearful farewell to each other. This episode always has me in floods, and gives a satisfying end to the series.

8. The Golden Girls (1985–1992)
Episode: Old Friends (1987)

TV-PG | 30 min | Comedy, Drama

Sophia befriends an elderly man who suffers from Alzheimer's disease. Meanwhile, Rose tries to get her teddy bear back from one of her Sunshine Cadets, who holds it hostage.

Director: Terry Hughes | Stars: Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan, Estelle Getty

Votes: 341

This season three premiere introduces Sophia's new friendship with a man named Alvin. They spend their afternoons having picnics by the sea, while amusing themselves trying to spot bathers peeing in the water.

However, things don't work out terribly well, as it transpires that Alvin suffers from Alzheimer's disease. Showcasing the pitfalls of growing older, it also shows an incredibly moving display of children's love for their parents, as Dorothy supports her mother through the difficult revelation and its repercussions. Its final scene is perhaps one of the most moving in sitcom history.

Interviewed in 2003, Arthur herself said it still gave her chills to think about it. I agree.

9. The Golden Girls (1985–1992)
Episode: Henny Penny - Straight, No Chaser (1991)

TV-PG | 30 min | Comedy, Drama

When the entire cast catches the Measles, the girls must take their places in the class play.

Director: Judy Pioli | Stars: Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan, Estelle Getty

Votes: 186

Anybody familiar with the background and filmography of our leading ladies knows of their wide-ranging talent when it comes to singing and dancing. As a matter of fact, 70s sitcom Maude - which starred both Arthur and McClanahan - would typically feature one variety show per season, featuring all the cast delivering some cracking musical numbers.

Though there were fewer such opportunities in Golden Girls, they made up for it in this episode, as the characters stage a musical adaptation of a classic fairy-tale. Dorothy's Turkey Lurkey, Rose's Henny Penny and Blanche's Loosey Goosey deliver a cracking show and a hilarious one, proving the girls - and the actresses playing them - were never afraid to make fools of themselves in the name of great comedy.

10. The Golden Girls (1985–1992)
Episode: The Accurate Conception (1989)

TV-PG | 30 min | Comedy, Drama

Blanche's daughter Rebecca shocks her with her plans to conceive a baby by means of artificial insemination.

Director: Terry Hughes | Stars: Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan, Estelle Getty

Votes: 192

This season five show sees Blanche's daughter Rebecca turn up and announce her intention to have herself artificially inseminated, much to Blanche's chagrin.

The Accurate Conception is one of the funniest episodes of all, as the girls begin to reminisce about the often-odd conception of their own children, while also debating the morality of Rebecca's choice.

Getty owns the funniest lines of the show, as she comments on the convenience of a nearby sperm bank ("Do they have a drive-up window?") and her casual chatting with the donors at said bank ("I bet this is more fun than giving blood").

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