The Great Golden Girls Marathon: “The Return of Dorothy’s Ex” (S1, Ep

Welcome back to the Great Golden Girls Marathon. In today’s installment, we take a look at the second episode in which Dorothy’s ex-husband Stan appears. While he is ostensibly in town to take care of some business with Dorothy, he ends up revealing that his new wife Chrissy has left him for a younger man. To make matters even more complicated, he also confesses that he still has feelings for Dorothy. While she feels tempted to return to her old life with him, she eventually turns him down, and he returns to Chrissy.

On one level, Stan is certainly the most insufferable type of man imaginable. He seems curiously out of place in his own life, perpetually struggling financially, always on the hunt for a younger woman. All of which, of course, just points to his own insecurity as a man. He has, in many ways, largely failed to do exactly those things that American culture expects its men to accomplish. He couldn’t even manage to hold his marriage together (though we don’t find out how spectacularly he failed at that until several episodes later).

And yet, despite all of that, Herb Edelman brings a certain charisma, one might even go so far as to say charm, to Stan. He should be utterly unlikeable, and yet he always manages to bring life to the episodes in which he appears. I suspect that a great deal of this has to do with the undeniable rapport and chemistry between Bea and Herb, who really do manage to capture the mix of dislike and affection that a couple married for 38 years would exhibit. And that makes sense; after all, 38 years is a very long time to be in a life with someone. They built their lives around each other, and while Dorothy has clearly begun to rebuild hers, Stan cannot quite cope with the reality of this new era. When even Chrissy leaves him, he goes back to Dorothy. He realizes, unfortunately too late, that she is the one that he really and truly loves.

One can’t blame Dorothy for finally deciding that she cannot go through with this particular iteration of her relationship. Sure, there are deep connections–both financial and emotional–that manage to rope them together (as we saw way back when Stan first appeared at Kate’s wedding), but she also knows that they can never recapture the magic of what they had when they were married. As I’ve learned the hard way, there are some wounds that go too deep to ever fully be healed, no matter how much we might wish that they would. That, for me, is one of the saddest things about the show:  despite how much they clearly love each other, Stan and Dorothy will always remain a tale of almost. They almost made it, but ultimately it just can’t work for them.

Next up, we meet yet another member of the family when Dorothy’s sister Gloria shows up, and a tug-of-war between the two sisters ensues.

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