At the start of the pandemic, Hulu viewers streamed 11 million hours of the venerable vintage sitcom golden girls in April 2020.
That gave super fan Zach Hudson an idea for Chicago: create Golden-Con, an inside joke convention and a celebration of the spirited senior quartet.
“Today, just like in the eighties, we sometimes push our seniors aside. And I know a little bit about that because my day job is I’m a social worker for seniors,” Hudson said.
“Thank You For Being a Fan”—a playoff of the TV show’s theme song—runs this weekend on Navy Pier. Imagine: golden girls lovers wearing swag, meeting former writers and producers, a replica of a Rusty Anchor bar stage, a disco ball and a giant wicker purse in honor of character Sophia.
Hudson, 44, grew up watching golden girls with his grandmother.
“A lot of queer folk, like me, will feel pushed aside at times. And sometimes we also get in the position of choosing our families, and that’s what the golden girls did. Blanche, Rose and Dorothy weren’t necessarily related, but they formed a family unit,” Hudson said.
Guest stars will also be on deck at Golden-Con, such as character actress Bonnie Bartlett, the show’s Irare villain, a bigot.
She played the haughty novelist Barbara Thorndyke who joined a club that excluded Jews. The actress is 92 years old and is holding a shirt her granddaughter made of what Dorothy said to Barbara in that episode: Go to Hell.
“When we did the show, there were three older different men who stopped to play the older Jewish man. They were offended,” Bartlett said.
golden girls is remembered for his courage in tackling such thorny social issues that were considered too taboo for primetime television four decades ago. There was the episode where Blanche was confronted with her homophobia and other episodes that discussed ageism, marriage equality and AIDS.
Brad Balof is another of the Golden-Con organizers. He calls the show the greatest American sitcom of all time. He said the event is about fans interacting with each other.
“Every reference from the show will hopefully be featured at some point. Everything from the turkey costumes Dorothy wore when they did a children’s musical to the dresses they wore when they got married,” Balof said. The actual dress Sophia wore. when she married Max, will be brought by the assistant of the late actress Estelle Getty.
Regardless of the subject, the foursome always made for a laugh. Stan Zimmerman Got His First Television Writing Appearance golden girls† He worked on the first season.
“There we learned a little bit how to write a funny joke. But we also found out that Bea didn’t need Arthur to laugh, she just had to look. And we kind of figured out that Dorothy takes a look,” Zimmerman said.
Congressmen will be hearing these kinds of behind-the-scenes stories all weekend. golden girls is a sitcom that continues to give and attract new generations.
Zimmerman added, “They’re real people talking about real feelings, and sometimes they disagree and sometimes they don’t.”
About slices of cheesecake.
Natalie Moore is a reporter on WBEZ’s Race, Class and Communities desk. You can follow her on Twitter at @natalieymoore†