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Busted Halo
feature: entertainment & lifestyle
December 28th, 2010

Faithful Departed — Rue McClanahan

(1934 - 2010)

 
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It is customary at the end of each year to look back and remember important figures who have died. For Busted Halo's Faithful Departed, instead of a laundry list of well-known deceased people with their accomplishments, we ask our writers to reflect on the spiritual impact that people who have passed away had on them. While most of our subjects had no explicit religious connections, we focus on their ability to touch souls. In these reflections you can see through the eyes of each writer how they experienced the sacred in people. Click here for all the Faithful Departed.

ruemcclanahan-flash

After college I had to have my own apartment. Like so many other young women, I saw this independence as an exhilarating and gratifying rite of passage. But it could also be very lonely. I found that at the end of the day, I would put on the television just to have some other voices in the apartment. I really liked to fall asleep with the television on and at the end of the day Lifetime — “the network for women” — was always showing just the right thing to entertain and calm me: The Golden Girls.

The Golden Girls originally aired on NBC from 1985 to 1992. I remember my grandmothers watching it when they came to visit my home, but I wasn’t a fan until it was in reruns. Each of the four older female stars, Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty, has her own unique personality. Bea Arthur was Dorothy the divorced substitute teacher, Betty White the naïve farm girl, Estelle Getty the wise and spicy Sicilian; but the one I loved the most and wanted to emulate was the devil-may-care Blanche, played by Rue McClanahan.

Yes, there are other, not very flattering adjectives that could be used to describe the character of Blanche, but I’d like to think of her as independent and comfortable in her own skin, with her own needs and desires.

I knew I wanted a creative career and I wanted to earn well for it. I wanted a husband and I wanted a child. Often, in super-cool, hipster creative circles, the desire for a husband and child is seen as antiquated… Thankfully, I had Blanche as my guide, encouraging me to follow my instincts and go for all of the things that I wanted.

In my early twenties, I wanted to be independent and comfortable in my own skin. That’s the image I projected, or at least I hoped so. But what twentysomething is really that self-possessed? In reality, I was searching for those Blanche-Iike qualities and I tried on many personas, friends, men and interests.

I knew I wanted a creative career and I wanted to earn well for it. I wanted a husband and I wanted a child. Often, in super-cool, hipster creative circles, the desire for a husband and child is seen as antiquated; and in those circles that support the idea of a spouse and child, work and career are still seen as a complicated issue for women. Thankfully, I had Blanche as my guide, encouraging me to follow my instincts and go for all of the things that I wanted.

Now that I’m in my early thirties, I do feel comfortable in my skin. (Or at least I think so!) I’m still attending poetry readings and art galleries, but now I have my 5-week-old in her sling.

 
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The Author : Jordana Drell
Jordana Drell makes award-winning games for preschoolers and lives in Brooklyn with her husband, two greyhounds, mini-dachshund and infant daughter. She is currently working her way through Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • Nainara

    Never was a huge fan of Golden Girls but I loved each of the ascterses for their careers in general. They always playing interesting, fun female characters.I only have two comments. First, I can’t believe that Blanche was only 52. I’m 48 and I swear those characters were more than 4 years older than I am. And if they are only 4 years older (except Sophia, of course) why the heck are they always wearing sweaters in Florida?Secondly, you compare Golden Girls to Designing Women and Sex and the City. Is it interesting to anyone else that all four shows have 4 women. Is there a reason for that?

  • William Grogan

    I loved the character, Blanche, to. In fact I loved all the characters in Golden Girls, each strong and unique in their own way. What came through in the sitcom mostly was the love these women had for each other, making their particular alternative household a happy one to come home to.

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