‘Golden Girls’: Betty White Shares That the TV Show Drew an Unexpected Age Group as an Audience

by Clayton Edwards

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love “Golden Girls.” Partially because it’s an amazing show. At the same time, I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life. Seriously, though, what’s not to love? The writing is clever. Betty White, Bea Arthur, Estelle Getty, and Rue McClanahan had amazing chemistry. It’s an original concept for a show that looks at a subject matter that TV shows are still shying away from. Looking back at the show, decades after the end of its original run, it’s easy to see why so many people love it.

Betty White discussed the early popularity and lasting impact of the women of “Golden Girls” in an interview for The Television Academy Foundation.

Betty White On the Unexpected Fans of “Golden Girls”

White said that “Golden Girls” was created with a goal in mind. The studio wanted to bring in an untapped audience. She noted that you never saw older women in television shows at the time. If you did, it was just for a moment. Older women would have a scene or two, say an outrageous line, and leave. The studio assumed that a show about older women would pull in an audience that looked much like the characters on the show.

That wasn’t the case, though, according to Betty White. The cast of “Golden Girls” would get fan mail from across the country. The surprising thing about that, she said, was that the bulk of the letters came from young people. Most of the fans of the show were under twenty-five-years old. This came as a shock to not only the cast of the show but also to the studio.

About the show’s appeal among younger viewers, Betty White said, “It’s fascinating. You try to find all kinds of reasons for it. But, I think that some of it had to do with great big Bea Arthur being bossed around by her mother who was this big,” White lowers her hand to just a few feet above the floor, exaggerating Estelle Getty’s small stature, “and they loved to see that relationship.”

White on the Show’s Current Audience

Betty White went on to say that the “Golden Girls” fan demographic hasn’t changed much over the years. Sure, fans from the show’s original run are still around. However, young people are still latching on to the show. She noted that they still get fan mail. Now the mail comes from all around the world because the series is running in so many markets. Letters come in from places like Shri Lanka, France, and Finland. Most of those letters come from college-age viewers.

Later in the interview, Betty White says that some “Golden Girls” fans are even younger. While talking about how long she has been in the business, she says that she gets recognized all over the place. One highlight, she says, is going to the store and having children approach her. The little ones would come and tug on her shirt and say, “Wose! It’s Wose!” because they were so young that they couldn’t yet pronounce “Rose” properly.

Like I said, everybody loves “Golden Girls.”