‘Golden Girls’: The Story Behind the ‘Spoof Show’ That Started the Hit Series

by Clayton Edwards
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Golden Girls might be one of the best-loved sitcoms to ever air. Fans adored it during its original run. Currently, a whole new generation of fans is discovering the classic series. The showrunners caught lightning in a bottle when they put the cast, crew, and writers together.

However, they had no way of knowing it would be a hit. In fact, the whole thing was a risk. At the time, there wasn’t really a place for middle-aged or older women on television. If a show featured a woman in that age range, she was usually a minor character. There certainly weren’t any shows focused solely on mature women. So, Golden Girls was developed to fill that role. At the same time, it was meant to pull in the nearly untapped demographic of mature women.

However, Golden Girls had a wider appeal than anyone could have anticipated. In fact, it pulled in viewers of all ages. Betty White once said that the bulk of their fan mail came from college or high school kids. The demographic of the show hasn’t changed much over the years, either.

But, did you know that Golden Girls started as a joke?

The Joke That Spawned Golden Girls

It’s no secret that Golden Girls is a hilarious show. The writers as well as the stars of the show were comedic geniuses. However, it was a throwaway improvised bit that got the wheels turning to make the show happen.

 Golden Girls started out as a comedy sketch for an NBC presentation, according to Biography. In the fall of 1984 Doris Roberts and Selma Diamond, who were both on Night Court and Remington Steele on the same network, made an appearance on a special presentation. They were part of a program promoting NBC’s slate of shows to potential advertisers. So, with money potentially on the line, they dusted off their comedy skills and improvised a quick joke about an upcoming cop show.

At the time, Miami Vice was getting ready to hit the airwaves. However, when Roberts and Diamond took the stage, they hilariously talked about Miami Nice. That show, they said, would feature retirees playing cards together in a retirement community in Florida. The audience got a good laugh out of the spoof concept. At the same time, it made studio execs think that they could make something out of it. No one knew it yet, but this was the genesis of Golden Girls.

For the next year, the new series remained in development. However, it wasn’t called Golden Girls just yet. Instead, it kept the working title of Miami Nice. The classic sitcom hit the airwaves in September of the next year.

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