Special Note: This is my 500th post on this blog. Wow. We’ve come a long way, baby!
And so we come at last to the third episode of the second season, and the establishment of a pattern that will come to play such a prominent part in Dorothy’s life: her fraught and contradictory relationship with Stanley.
When Stanley comes by to ask Dorothy to go out with him to help salve his broken heart, Dorothy pawns him off on an unwilling Blanche. Unfortunately, the two of them bond more than she had expected, and this sparks yet another round of recriminations and feuding between Blanche and Dorothy. Meanwhile, Sophia and Dorothy go into business together trying to sell sandwiches.
One of the great strengths of The Golden Girls is the way in which it really helps shed light on the messiness of personal relationships. It would have been far too easy to paint Dorothy and Stan as mutually hating each other, and it appears that was indeed the goal in the first episode in which he appears, there’s clearly a lot of chemistry between Bea Arthur and Herb Edelman. One can actually imagine the two of them as a couple that once loved one another (even if their marriage came about in less than auspicious circumstances). The series shows us instead that the ties that bind a couple together during 38 years of marriage cannot be so easily dissolved or snapped; however much we might want it, there is rarely is such a thing as a truly clean break.
Dorothy’s flare of jealousy at Blanche’s budding relationship with Stan also speaks to the complicated relationships that exist between women. I know that I, for one, can completely understand Dorothy’s feeling of betrayal and jealousy at the thought that her best friend might be sleeping with her ex-husband. I mean, who wouldn’t feel that way? Even if you are divorced from someone, even though they might have betrayed you in the worst way possible (remember that Stan left Dorothy and married a woman half his age), you still can’t let those feelings go.
But, this being a sitcom, balance has been restored by the end. Blanche jettisons her relationship with Stanley, correcting understanding that to persist in it would put an irreparable strain on their friendship. It’s rather touching, really, to see how they privilege their feelings for one another over their ones with men. It’s a dynamic that will be one of the constants in the entire series, and for me it’s one of the most enjoyable things about it.
Lastly, we should make at least passing mention of the Sophia/Rose part of the story. Admittedly, it lacks the gravitas of the other, but it is definitely hilarious. The “Bacon-Lettuce-and-Potato” bit (they run out of tomatoes for the sandwich) has to be one of the most hilarious segments in the second season.
Next up, we get to take a look at the strange case of Frieda Claxton in what is arguably one of the funniest episodes of this second season.