It’s been nearly 20 years since The Golden Girls ended its seven-year run on NBC and, since then, half of its main characters have passed away. But that’s done nothing to dampen fans’ love of the sitcom and the four fabulous elderly women who comprised its core cast. In fact, if anything, Golden Girls love has reached fever pitch on the viral web, out of some strange mix of hipster irony and genuine appreciation. Recently, admirers have gone so far as to successfully campaign to have Betty White host Saturday Night Live — and the tributes to the late, great Bea Arthur just don’t stop coming.
As thrilling as it is to see a whole new generation express its love for a cadre of feisty old ladies — and continuing to prove that there is an audience for good entertainment about women over 40 — the explosion of Golden Girls-themed videos, blogs and merch can become kind of dizzying. That’s why we’ve put together an easy guide to the show’s online fandom. You may want to thank us, you know, for being a friend.
Bea is by far the most Internet-popular of the Girls, even nearly a year after her death. Lately, we’ve been obsessed with Bea Arthur Mountains Pizza, itself an inspired knockoff of the enormously successful Selleck Waterfall Sandwich. But we’d be remiss to ignore another great, recent development in the Bea-osphere: That’s What Bea Said, a collection of the actress’s greatest quotes. (Our favorite so far? “Get me twenty thousand Hebrews and I’ll see what I can do.”)
Facebook: There are a number of smallish Facebook pages devoted to Bea, but our favorite is an 850-ish member group that pissed off about Bea’s omission from the Academy Awards tribute reel. Among its active members is one Isaac Mizrahi.
Twitter: Honestly, we’re a bit underwhelmed at the Twitter presence of The Golden Girls crew. But, if you’re interested in striking up a tweeting friendship with Arthur’s erstwhile character, feel free to follow @DorothyPZbornak. That’s What Bea Said also tweets: @beasaid.
Videos: The Internet brims with great Bea clips, but here are our four favorites. Gay icons of the world unite! Bea and Rock Hudson sing about drugs:
Bea as Carrie Bradshaw in a Sex and the City parody:
Bea stars in a cheesy ’80s PSA :
Bea reads a dirty scene from Pamela Anderson’s novel at a Comedy Central roast of the busty actress:
Merch: Want to keep Bea close to your heart? Etsy’s got you covered with this “There will never Bea another” T-shirt. Prefer to pray to Arthur, like the goddess she is? Maybe a St. Bea prayer candle is more your speed.
As the most exciting Golden Girl left alive — not to mention one of the funniest broads of all time — Betty White is experiencing a career Renaissance as she approaches her 10th decade. The lady made a splash in a hilarious Super Bowl Snickers ad, and that few seconds of commercial inspired some true believers to dedicate a Facebook page to the quest to have her host an episode of SNL. And, in case you hadn’t heard, it’s happening. On May 8, you’ll want to set your TiVo for a White-hosted episode that will also feature such famous funny ladies as Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Molly Shannon and Rachel Dratch. But that’s not all. The Betty White revival has also scored her a regular spot on the new TV Land sitcom, Hot in Cleveland. Look for new episodes in June.
Facebook: Like Bea, Betty has her fair share of fan pages. But none begins to rival the one that won White her SNL gig. These days, it tops half a million followers.
Twitter: Nothing epic here either, but feel free to follow @RoseTB.
Videos: Betty gets grilled about SNL on last night’s Larry King Live:
Betty takes the piss out of Ryan Reynolds on the set of The Proposal:
Betty (in a fetching pink ensemble) tells Craig Ferguson that Sarah Palin is a “crazy bitch”:
That incredible Super Bowl ad:
Merch: Since statement jewelry is most definitely in fashion, you won’t want to be caught dead without Betty White’s head hanging from your ears.
Bonus link: Betty White with giraffe.
We have lots of love for Estelle, and her sharp-tongued character Sophia is probably our favorite Golden Girl. We adore this tasteful (roses and pearls!) tribute site to the late actress (check this career-spanning photo album!) but frankly recommend that this other fan site consider a redesign that actually includes biographical info…
Facebook: Weirdly, a search for Estelle Getty yielded no groups but a glut of fake accounts.
Videos: Estelle’s ’90s-tastic workout video for seniors:
Sophia and Dorothy as Sonny and Cher:
Estelle does standup:
Poor Rue has been through a lot in her post-Golden Girls life. In the late ’90s, she battled breast cancer and won. Then, late last year, McClanahan suffered a stroke, from which she is still recovering. We love that White and McClanahan retained their sense of humor throughout that tragedy, with Betty sending Rue the following message: “Dear Rue, I hope you hurry up and die so I can be the last Golden Girl left. NOT KIDDING!”
Facebook: Rue’s fans top out at around 6,000. Surely she can do better than that. Also, with the success of the Betty White SNL campaign, Rue lovers are now angling to have her host, too. So far, that group is hovering around 3,500 supporters.
Twitter: Surprisingly, Rue’s got the best faux tweeters of the bunch. @blancheinmiami is our pick, but you can also follow @Blanche_TB.
Videos: Rue chats with Dame Edna:
A young Rue does some burlesque, old school-style. For some reason, someone synched this video with The Pixies’ “Hey”:
Rue teaches us how to care for cats:
There have also been some great tributes to the ladies as a group and the show itself.
Facebook: Even though the Golden Girls fan page is largely inactive, it still boasts upwards of 125,000 members.
Pistol Youth’s clever “In My Eyes” music video has the band members dressing up as Golden Girls:
Golden Girls blooper reel:
Golden Girls buy condoms:
Merch: Get tipsy watching the show on DVD with three girlfriends and these Golden Girls wine charms. With this gold-on-black tote bag, the ladies go glam. This set of four hand-printed cards, each featuring a different Golden Girl, is appropriate for any occasion. Superfans who are also flush with extra cash may want to look into a collection of cufflinks so comprehensive there’s even a pair for Stan! The pricetag: Only $140 a set.
Bonus link: Some nutty Christian extremists believe Golden Girls will turn you gay. Don’t we wish.