Yes, the ‘Golden Girls’ Are Younger Than the ‘AJLT’ Ladies. Why Is This So Shocking?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock the size of Carrie’s brownstone apartment, you’ve seen plenty of memes circulating about HBO’s hit Sex and the City reboot, And Just Like That.
My podcast co-host Dara Katz and I discuss several of these at length in our latest episode—including the “Hey, it’s Che Diaz” one everyone’s been posting. But we also chat about a meme that’s been circulating which compares the women of And Just Like That to the gals in The Golden Girls.
The basic idea is, people are shocked that the actresses in And Just Like That are slightly older than the characters of Rose, Dorothy and Blanche. (This is not to be confused with the actual ages of the GG actresses since, as Newsweek points out, the women of The Golden Girls were older than their fictional counterparts.)
According to the publication, a TikToker named Emily Johnson first made the now-viral observation in a video she posted in early January.
While Johnson does get some of the ages slightly wrong (SJP is 56, Nixon is 55 and Davis is 56; while Dorothy is 53, Blanche is 53 and Rose is 55), the point is clear: Why do we think of the Dorothy and Co. as being so much older than Carrie and Friends?
There are probably several reasons for this—which, again, we discuss on this week’s episode of the pod. To begin with, there’s the issue of styling which is quite evident in the side-by-side comparison of the press photos. Dorothy, Blanche, Rose and Sophia don long, flowy caftans and sport short haircuts (and wigs in Sophia AKA Estelle Getty’s case) of the time. In contrast, Carrie, Miranda and Charlotte are giving us full-on fashion with their looks. And that’s before we even talk about their modern styling—from the hair color to the cuts to the makeup. A problematic comparison? More on that later.
TikToker Johnson makes another observation to Newsweek. “For so many American women, we are having kids later, which means in our 50s, we are still in the midst of a life that women of the Golden Girls era would have been done with. I think that brings with it a need to look like you're still in the mix. Our foot is still very much on the gas!"
This sentiment seems to really resonate, as many who have shared this meme have pointed out that the way we think about women in their 50s has evolved since the days of The Golden Girls, particularly when it comes to Hollywood. Even A-list star Sandra Bullock, who is 57, has acknowledged the shift though she implies that this is a very recent development.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Bullock made comments this month crediting Netflix for being the reason she still has a successful career. She said, "If it wasn't for Netflix, a lot of people wouldn't be working. Their stories wouldn't be told. Who would think that me, as a woman, would still be working at this point? I would have been out in the cow pasture. It's true."
With the rise of streaming content—and the increased number of shows and movies that come along with it—certainly many stories are being told that would never have been otherwise, perhaps even ten years ago. It wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine that And Just Like That might not have been made at all if this were ten, fifteen years prior.
But the opposite argument could also certainly be made. One could say none of this has to do with our willingness to tell different types of stories. After all, The Golden Girls was high quality content. The show was wildly progressive (from the introduction of gay characters to Blanche’s honest and overt sexuality—which paved the way for the character of Samantha). The performances were also extremely nuanced and heartfelt and the storylines often dealt with real and important issues.
However, the quality of GG may just be a distraction from the point here: There’s still a reason we’re all so shocked to learn that Miranda is roughly the same age as Dorothy. And maybe therein lies the problem. We love to go on and on about how progressive we all are and how far we’ve all come. With this meme, we even seem to be applauding the fact that we are no longer limiting our views about how “women of a certain age” should look or act and which of their stories should be shared. But then why are we simultaneously A. comparing two sets of women in their fifties at all; and B. saying that one set of women is inherently better (or even be better looking) simply because they’ve squeezed their manicured toes into four-inch stilettos?
Perhaps if we truly want to show how evolved we all are, it’s time we abandon this meme altogether and stick to sharing Woke Charlotte quotes.