‘Golden Girls’ Soars on Nielsen’s Highest-Rated Shows Chart Following Betty White’s Death

by Jennifer Shea

Roughly a month after her death, Golden Girls star Betty White is once again topping Nielsen ratings.

Fans of the iconic TV star appear to be mourning her passing by binge-watching the show for which she won a Primetime Emmy Award for Best Actress in a Comedy Series. (White also won a Primetime Emmy for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for The Mary Tyler Moore Show.)

The Golden Girls is available on the streaming service Hulu, and fans can binge all seven seasons that way. It seems that is what they are doing, because The Golden Girls made it to No. 8 on Nielsen’s Top 10 Streaming Acquired Programs list, according to the New York Post.

Between Jan. 3 and Jan. 9, Betty White fans watched 384 million total minutes of the show on Hulu. Roughly 41 percent of the viewers binge-watching the show were between the ages of 35 and 49.

Golden Girls Star Died of Natural Causes

White passed away at her home in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, California on Dec. 31, 2021. She had suffered a stroke six days earlier, the Associated Press reports. Her death came a mere few weeks before her 100th birthday.

While rumors reportedly circulated on the internet that White had gotten a COVID-19 booster shot shortly before her death, her longtime friend and agent Jeff Witjas shot those down.

“Betty died peacefully in her sleep at her home. People are saying her death was related to getting a booster shot three days earlier but that is not true,” Witjas told Yahoo Entertainment recently. “She died of natural causes. Her death should not be politicized — that is not the life she lived.”  

White’s co-stars and her fellow celebrities mourned the TV icon’s death along with her millions of fans. For example, Sandra Bullock, who co-starred in The Proposal with White, sent out a statement expressing sadness and nodding to White’s less-than-healthy eating habits.

“I don’t drink vodka… but I will tonight — on ice, with a slice of lemon with a hot dog on the other side and just be OK being sad,” Bullock said in her statement. “I’ll have to buy some rose-colored glasses because Betty was that for all of us.”

The Betty White Challenge Paid Tribute to White’s Legacy

Meanwhile, other Betty White fans came up with a better tribute to the Golden Girls star than drinking. They started the Betty White Challenge, a social media-fueled campaign to get people to donate $5 to their local animal welfare group in White’s name on or before her birthday. White was an avowed animal lover who gave generously of her time and money to animal charities while she was alive.

The challenge had already brought in more than $550,000 to animal welfare groups nationwide by Jan. 14. White’s birthday was Jan. 17. By the time Jan. 18 rolled around, animal charities had raked in much more than that – some estimates put the total figure in the tens of millions.

“She would love that so much,” her executive personal assistant Kiersten Mikelas told People of the challenge. “She would be so touched to see and hear that people were honoring her by donating to local groups who work so hard to rescue and rehabilitate animals. I can’t think of a better tribute.”