Ciao, Sophia

Very sad news to report: Estelle Getty, widely known for her role as Sophia Petrillo on The Golden Girls, died today at age 84.

I’m a huge Golden Girls fan, and I maintain that it’s one of the best feminist shows ever created: It’s got an all-female cast; they women are all older and therefore outside of traditional beauty norms; the women have independent lives that involve men but don’t revolve around them; and the characters are funny and smart (with the possible exception of Rose, but she’s smart in her own little way). Where else have you seen a popular sitcom (or any show) that revolves around women who actually kind of look like average women, who aren’t young and fabulous and beautiful, who have interests other than finding male companionship, who put their female friendships first, and who have sex after menopause? More to the point, where can you find a TV show or movie that revolves around women like that, and those women aren’t the butt of the joke?

It’s certainly a rarity, and Golden Girls remains a bright spot in TV history. Estelle Getty was a class act.

She did good. And here’s to being Sophia when I’m old.


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About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
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22 Responses to Ciao, Sophia

  1. UnFit says:

    Only the good die young…

    Rest in Peace Estelle Getty.

    I agree that there’s a lot of applied feminism in The Golden Girls that probably wasn’t even intended.
    But yea, when I reach that age, they’re definitely my rold models.

  2. annaham says:

    RIP, Estelle.

  3. Kristen from MA says:

    R-amen, Jill. I love this show and its stars. As far as I’m concerned, the reruns are the only reason to ever tune into Lifetime.

    RIP, Ms Getty.

  4. k says:

    And Estelle herself was an activist her whole life! For a number of causes, which is another reason I’ve always loved the entire cast of Golden Girls – they were all women who would not back down and be quiet.

  5. K says:

    :( sad. sophia was always my favorite because she was so snarky.

  6. femmina says:

    RIP Estelle.

    I’m only 20, but I’ve loved the golden girls since pretty much forever…and as I got older and learned more about the cast I learned to love them too. I may be considerably younger than they are, but I still see them in some way as role models, and when I’m that age, I wanna be a golden girl.

  7. Hugo says:

    What “k” said about the activism — all the cast-members were big in the animal welfare/animal rights movement.

    It was a wonderful show, though Jill, when you say that the characters have interests other than male companionship, it’s difficult to argue that that wasn’t Blanche’s main passion. Not that that diminishes the richness of the program and the cleverness of the writing.

  8. Jack says:

    I’ve had “Thank You For Being A Friend” in my head all day. Love that show, love Sophia. RIP, Estelle.

  9. Charity says:

    Class act is exactly right. I have such fond memories of that show, and loved every one of the characters. I was young and remember how tripped out I was that Estelle Getty was much younger than her character, she played it so well. Much love, Estelle.

  10. Jill says:

    It was a wonderful show, though Jill, when you say that the characters have interests other than male companionship, it’s difficult to argue that that wasn’t Blanche’s main passion. Not that that diminishes the richness of the program and the cleverness of the writing.

    True. I meant that they weren’t all looking for men to complete their lives. Blanche was lookin’ to do it, but she wasn’t looking for a husband or for a man to complete her.

  11. Mikey says:

    I’m grateful you flagged this, Jill.

    I fear that a show like The Golden Girls would never be made today. Maybe I’m getting old, but I think that is true – and tragic.

  12. Hugo says:

    Blanche was lookin’ to do it, but she wasn’t looking for a husband or for a man to complete her.

    True enough, and that’s an important distinction. A charming, kind, loving hedonist to her core – that’s who Blanche was to me.

  13. JenLovesPonies says:

    Oh man! That sucks. I always thought Estelle- and the whole show- was fantastic. Much love for the Girls today.

  14. Cass C. Carter says:

    Estelle Getty’s dead, Dick Cheney’s still alive.

    People ask me why I’m not religious.

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  16. kac90b says:

    One thing I think the Golden Girls did for me and a small group of best girlfriends was to show us that getting older without a man did not mean you had to be alone. 3 of us – divorcees and 1 widow – plan on being the Golden Girls when we reach that age if we must. Huge comfort in that, since we’re all in our late 40s, early 50s. Not that far off.

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  18. Fatemeh says:

    (sniffle) A Golden Girl is dead. Long live the Golden Girls!

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