It's hard to find a show that could be more wholesome than The Golden Girls. I mean, the premise is four grandmothers living together, helping each other through hard times, and searching for love. If that alone doesn't make you think "Aww," then I worry you might have killed small animals in your past.
From initial viewing, each episode of The Golden Girls delivered more concentrated sweetness than a melted bag of Pixy Stix. But here's the thing. What if these grandmas weren't so sweet? What if that sweetness was used to mask something more sinister -- like a melted bag of Pixy Stix sprinkled over a bed of shit?
We're here to find out, and it's why we're putting The Golden Girls in our "Who is the actual worst?" series. (Or, in the case of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, "Who is the actual best?") Here we'll be using a critical eye to discuss who among Blanche, Dorothy, Rose, and Sophia is the most morally reprehensible. Let's begin:
The Case For Sophia
Sophia would be our most obvious candidate as she's the most outwardly mean. Sure, from the perspective of the casual television viewer, her sardonic barbs are solid laughs, but they're so frequent and intense (she frequently shames the women for being sluts) that they're also examples of verbal and emotional abuse.
Sophia is especially cruel to her own daughter, Dorothy, and is always poking at Dorothy being unable to find a suitable man.
It's all the sadder when you consider Dorothy's low self-esteem (and unwanted pregnancy) is what caused her to settle for Stan, her unfaithful, schlub of an ex-husband.
But Sophia's cruelty is more than just verbal. In "Ladies of the Evening," the girls are arrested on suspicion of prostitution. Sophia shows up to their cell only to insult them before leaving them to rot in jail. Then in the episode "Where's Charlie?" Sophia pretends to be possessed by the spirit of Rose's late husband. Rose falls for the ruse (Rose, to Sophia's credit, isn't always the smartest), but when the truth is revealed, she's so heartbroken that she decides to move out.
That's to say nothing of Sophia's racism, but you probably expected that from an octogenarian character in a 1980's sitcom anyway.
The Case For Dorothy:
Dorothy is almost as venomous as her mother. She frequently belittles Rose for her naivety and regularly slut-shames Blanche for actually having a sex life.
We know Dorothy struggles with confidence, especially with her sexuality, but it still doesn't excuse her trash attitude. Her jealousy is really on display when her boyfriend makes a pass at Blanche. Blanche tells Dorothy, but Dorothy doesn't believe her and accuses Blanche of trying to seduce him. It's a bummer to see because, besides the fact that Dorothy failed to #believewomen, she also degrades her friend in a vulnerable moment.
Dorothy also engages in some shady relationships. She sleeps with her ex-husband's brother, hooks up with a married man, and later pursues a relationship with her former high school teacher. (18 or 68, that shit is weird.) But, ultimately, the case against Dorothy is tough as she's mostly just a softer version of Sophia, with maybe some more questionable relationship choices. She does have a gambling problem, but it's not like she's selling Rose's meds to pay off her debt, so there isn't much else on her.
The Case For Blanche
Blanche's rap sheet is as long as it is random, like a collaboration written by Kendrick Lamar and Dr. Seuss. Yes, she's promiscuous, but we can't really hate on her for that, except for the times when she pressures the other women to keep up. Blanche, for example, enables Rose's infidelity by bringing her on a double date with "wealthy" men.
It's interesting because most of Blanche's heinous transgressions involve Rose. Take the episode "Dorothy's Prized Pupil," where Blanche convinces Rose to be her "Veedenfrugen" or personal slave. Blanche says, "Veedenfrugen, a lovely idea. If we'd had them in the old days, we wouldn't have had to fight that disruptive Civil War." Even for old white ladies in the 1980's, this is pretty damn racist.
Then, in the episode "That Was No Lady," Blanche sells Rose a car, which she knows to be faulty. Dammit, Blanche. Rose is your friend. Not only did you rip her off, but also you could have gotten her killed. She's so sweet and simple. What do you have against Rose, Blanche?
The Case For Rose
What does Blanche have against Rose, indeed? Perhaps, she believes, as I do, that Rose is the most morally reprehensible character in The Golden Girls. But how is this possible? Rose is the most innocent. The most kind-hearted. The most Betty White. All of that is true. But Rose is also the most deadly.
See, Rose worked at a grief-counseling center and was extremely bad at her job. Rose even reveals to us, "I have the highest suicide rate at the center!" It's hard to place the moral burden of someone's death on a grief counselor, but you have to wonder at what point Rose should have removed herself from the line of duty. What could she have been saying to these people that caused so many to take their own lives?
In the episode "It's a Miserable Life," we see Rose's deathly words in action. Rose loses her temper against an ornery old lady named "Mrs. Claxton" who insists on cutting down a 200-year-old tree on her property. Rose tells Mrs. Claxton, "If you don't like it, then you can just drop dead." Mrs. Claxton is so taken aback that she actually dies.
Even Rose's husband died while being physically intimate with her, leaving us to assume that Rose has the power of death's touch and uses it without discretion. It's why she's my pick and it's a good thing, because Betty White is still alive, which means we can still cancel her.
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Top Image: NBC