I thought I didn’t have anything to add to the obituary notices for the late Bea Arthur being run in the mainstream press, but then I saw her star in this internet Sex and the City parody and was reminded why she was so damn cool. The very first time I saw SATC, I pegged it as a younger version of The Golden Girls, and I wasn’t the only one who saw the parallels. How nice that Bea Arthur got the chance to play Carrie Bradshaw; my favorite moment is when she pours Metamucil into her cosmo.
Bea Arthur was already past 50 and gray-haired when she became a TV star. That scenario sounds unthinkable now, but it was pretty unthinkable back then too, and it still happened. Arthur’s tough, no-nonsense attitude helped make her a star, but she also had a finely honed sense of comic timing and an enviable set of skills that served her well in Broadway musical theater. Certain types of men found her terrifying, and not just because of her height and her, uh, lack of conventional feminine charms. Her disinterest in flirting with an audience was accompanied by a ferocious intelligence. She was smart enough to detect pretension and insecurity, and she was ruthless in picking them apart, even in her bosom buddies. Fearsome qualities, yet she always had a healthy sense of humor about herself; look no further than that SATC parody for proof of that. She made a staunch and loyal friend, and that (and some of the sharpest writing in any sitcom of the 1980s) was why so many TV viewers of all ages wanted to spend Saturday nights with her.
Farewell, Ms. Arthur. If Carrie Bradshaw or any of the rest of us can age as well as you did, we can look forward to our golden years.