DCIB Book Club: Golden Girls Episode “Mrs. George Deveraux”. Let’s Talk About Grief, Laughter, Love, and Friendship!

This is SUCH a good episode! At least, I think so. I hope I encouraged some of you to watch it, and I hope you got a lot out of it.

Something The Golden Girls never forgot is that 3 of it’s 4 leads were widows. Yes, they had wacky adventures, and they went on dates, but there was a lingering loss in their lives. You can have a comedy with depth, the best comedies have depth. And the reason we keep going back and watching this show and laughing at it, is because it teaches us to laugh in the face of, well, death.

These 4 women were survivors of death, dealing with the death of lovers, friends, siblings, etc. And they were in the last phase of their own lives, the next step for themselves was death. Which I guess is what makes them have adventures? Why not date bad men, or give an impassioned speech, or go to a murder mystery weekend? There’s nothing else coming, there’s no path for a future.

And that’s what this episode straddles. On the one hand, we have the Dorothy plot in which Sonny Bono and Lyle Waggoner fall ridiculously in love with her and fight over her. And on the other hand, we have the Blanche plot in which she struggles with her feelings for her dead husband.

The Golden Girls" Mrs. George Devereaux (TV Episode 1990) - IMDb

It’s also just a brilliant episode construction. We start out with a funny but odd episode in which Blanche’s dead husband reappears and says he faked his death. Blanche struggles with anger at him for leaving her, denial that she cares at all, and at first wants to pretend this isn’t happening. But her fellow widows, Rose and Sophia, help her see what a blessing this is, that any time with the man she loves is a miracle. I guess some interesting conversations in there, and some fun watching Blanche fight with her husband and remember their youth, but overall what the heck? He faked his death??? That’s so STRANGE!!!!

And then it ends with Blanche waking up. And Rue McClanahan quickly acts out the emotions of shock coming out of the dream, laughter at how silly it was, and then turning to reach over for her husband and tell him and sudden terrible sorrow as she realizes he isn’t there. Silly Blanche and her silly husband coming back, it was just a dream. A terrible grief dream in which her mind tries to come up with a reason for it not being true. This is Blanche, the man-made woman, the one who doesn’t seem to care about anything, and here is a little glimpse at the deep pain behind every moment of her life.

Ending there would have been fine, a bit of an odd episode, but it was all a dream, okay, we can forget it. What brings it to another level is the choose to have the other 3 women come in. They heard Blanche in her sleep and were worried. And all Dorothy has to say is “Blanche had her dream again” and they all immediately understand and are ready to support her. This isn’t a one off, this isn’t something strange in their lives, their friendship revolves around all these little secret pains that they have shared with each other. This isn’t an episode about Blanche’s grief, this is an episode about how Blanche’s grief is a part of the daily lives of all 4 women.

Anyway, what did you think? Those of you who watched it? Why do you think it is such a powerful episode? Is it the performances? The humor? The twist at the end?

Or do you think it was a miss-fire, the mixture of depth and humor was too strange?

11 thoughts on “DCIB Book Club: Golden Girls Episode “Mrs. George Deveraux”. Let’s Talk About Grief, Laughter, Love, and Friendship!

  1. I have seen only 1 episode of Golden Girls in my life (the first one, a month or two ago), so basically I only know it’s about 4 women who live together. Will I need to know more to understand the episode you recommended?

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    • No, it’s pretty straight forward. If you pay attention, they make sure to tell you something about the backstory of each character in each episode so you won’t get lost. And I am very curious about your reaction!

      On Mon, Nov 15, 2021 at 12:32 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. I agree that the best part was the ending. She wakes up and realizes it was only a dream and the husband hasn’t returned, but she is not alone. There is someone who cares about her and understands her. It’s beautiful.

    I also liked that during the dream she said she wants that everything goes back as it was. It means she moved on, and even if she will always miss the husband , she can live without him.

    The humor was only ok for me, but my son was laughing a lot.

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    • Oh, I like that point! Maybe over the years her dream has changed from her immediately welcoming her husband back to resisting it. showing how she has managed to build more and more of a life without him and can’t easily just go back to being “Mrs. George Deveraux”

      On Tue, Nov 16, 2021 at 5:39 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  3. This is such a good episode. I didn’t rewatch it for this discussion so I may not be remembering everything correctly. But, from what I remember, this such a great episode in its exploration of greif. Which is why I thought of Wanda Vision when you first mentioned it. Blanche has always been the one that seems like she thrives in this new stage of her life and is in full control. You think of her as someone who is having the time of her life meeting new men. She enjoys sex and the attention. She takes care of herself and looks glamorous. You at times forget about her vulnerabilites and this episode does such a nice job bringing that to the forefront.

    But it also shows her denial and anger. Seeing her ex-husband is HARD. It is messy. It means she has to confront something that is still very raw inside to her. And it is interesting to me, that in this episode Rose (who is usually the nice, sweet one) is the one that confronts her and gives her some tough love. It makes sense because Rose also is a widow. On the other hand, Dorothy (the strong, straight shooter) is the one that cuddles her and conforts her in bed, which again makes sense because Dorothy is not a widow.

    And it is also interesting to me that this is a recurring dream. No matter how much Blanche has moved on, this little tiny deep-seeded part of her still wishes for George to be alive. To feel him next to her in bed. The episode is just such a wonderful expression of grief and love.

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    • Another point, it is Blanche’s dream version of Rose who yells at her, and Blanche’s dream version of Dorothy who is uncharacteristically manmad with two men after her. So Rose is the married woman/widow part of her, and Dorothy is the happy single version of her. In the ending tag, we see how “real” Dorothy is much wiser and more caring than “dream” Dorothy, while “real” Rose is considerably ditzier and more confused versus “dream” Rose. Blanche knows her friends so well (and the writers know the characters so well) that the dream versions aren’t really unlike them, but they exaggerate certain traits which aren’t usually at the forefront.

      There’s an early season episode when a man dies in Rose’s bed and Blanche forces her to go notify the family because she is still raw over having a cold police officer tell her over the phone that her husband is dead. And the same episode is when we learn Rose’s husband died in her bed and she still carries guilt for that. A great pair with this episode, the two young widows revealing the specific scars that have healed over but are still there.

      On Tue, Nov 16, 2021 at 9:42 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. I don’t know that I loved the episode, but I enjoyed it, and it left me very sad. I liked your analysis that the dream Dorothy and Rose were two parts of the real Blanche. I did like the men fighting over Dorothy.

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