In today’s episode of The Great Golden Girls Marathon, we find out that Rose has begun to fall in love with one of her colleagues at the counseling center, a certain Jonathan Newman who, it turns out, is a little person. Shenanigans ensue, of course, especially when Blanche invites Rose’s beau over for dinner.
As it would come to do with several other minority identities, The Golden Girls does a fairly nuanced job of portraying Jonathan as simply a person like anyone else. He is intelligent and well-spoken with a wicked sense of humour. However, he is also flawed and rather intolerant in his own way, as evidenced by the fact that he can’t continue his relationship with Rose due to her non-Jewish identity. Of course, the thwarting of their romance is quite in keeping with the series’ investment in ensuring that we in the audience understand that it is the relationship among the four women that takes center-stage.
Certainly, there are parts of the situation that cause us to laugh, but I would argue that we are not invited to see Jonathan’s short stature as the source of the humour. Instead, it is Blanche’s awkwardness and inability to cope with it that incites our laughter. Jonathan is so clearly comfortable in his own skin that he throws her own awkwardness into sharp relief.
This episode also featured two notable guest stars: Billy Barty and the renowned psychic Jeane Dixon (both of whom appear in a dream sequence of Rose’s that is as ridiculous as it sounds). Of course, this wouldn’t be the last time that the show would feature famous personalities and actors, and that roster would come to include such luminaries as Bob Hope, Debbie Reynolds, and so many others would grace the stage.
This is one of those early episodes that does not, as of yet, dive headfirst into the political as would come to be the case in Seasons 2-6 (I’ll get to the final season at some point). Instead, it relies on a typical sitcom setup to make a larger point. It’s a subtle point, certainly, but it does help to illustrate just how versatile The Golden Girls was and how even at this early stage in its development the show had already managed to hone the sharpness of its humour.
Up next, the women dive into some murky moral ground when Dorothy finds herself having an affair with a married man.