'Golden Girls' reruns a hit with younger TV viewers

Friday, June 27, 2003

Pass the cheesecake -- "The "Golden Girls" are hot again.

Each week, 13 million viewers tune in to Lifetime to watch Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan, Betty White and Estelle Getty play a group of randy, mature women living together.

Viewers have plenty of options it airs seven times each weekday.

But the audience isn't just geezers who can't work the remote control. The 10 p.m. airing of "Golden Girls" attracts as many women in the 18-to-34 age group as MTV.

Likewise, a June 2 reunion of the "Golden Girls" cast was the most-watched special in Lifetime's 19-year history, attracting 4.2 million. It will air again in August.

And Entertainment Weekly put "Golden Girls" on its 2003 "It List," the editors' annual collection of favorite pop-culture people and things of the moment. And there are dozens of Internet fan sites, including Germany's "Blanche Online."

"Golden Girls" has even been compared with "Sex and the City" in its portrayal of women with sex lives who weren't afraid to talk about it.

"Golden Girls" ended its prime-time run on NBC in 1992 and has run continuously on Lifetime since 1997. But it has developed an "I Love Lucy" kind of endurance among new generations of viewers, said Lifetime senior vice president and TV historian Tim Brooks.

What gives a show about white-hairs such youth appeal?

"They are young people in older people's bodies" said Brooks. "They didn't care what anybody thought about them. They all dated. They talked about sex. Young people relate to people who think like them more than they do to people who look like them."