The Golden Girls: The Actor vs. Growing Pains: A Star Is Born

On Growing Pains, Mike is cast in the lead role of George in his school’s production of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. On The Golden Girls, Dorothy, Rose, and Blanche are cast in a community production of a thinly veiled spoof of William Inge’s Picnic. Two shows from 1987! Two classic American playwrights! Only one Very Special Winner! Who will it be?

One thing unique about Growing Pains versus most of the other contenders in this contest is that we do get to see a whole lot of the production. We’re treated to several minutes of Our Town and lots of quirky true to school amateur theater moments — the lights are too bright, the kids forget their lines, the director (the school’s coach and PE teacher) is still on stage when the curtain rises, etc. It’s very cute and I got a kick out of watching it. That said, the staging is horrible. No one seems to know how to cheat out — either because they wanted to keep that real amateur vibe or because these are a bunch of film actors with no stage experience. Needless to say, this isn’t a problem on The Golden Girls.

While the costumes are good on Growing Pains (and once again true to a high school costume shop where everything is just a bit ill fitting) I just couldn’t resist the mid-century dresses they put our girls Blanche and Rose in. Plus, Dorothy shows up as the small town sheriff (as a last minute understudy because no one else can fit into the costume) and I just love her energy in this role. So I did award the point to The Golden Girls for costuming.

Scenic design was a tricky point in this matchup. Those of you familiar with Our Town will know that the set is intentionally sparse. And the Growing Pains crew did a nice job honoring this in a way that’s both true to the tradition but also still interesting to look at.

But I did give the point to “Picnicish” (lol I’m not actually sure what the play is called but it’s not quite “Picnic”) because frankly I just thought this set was gorgeous.

You can see the stage a little bit in this video of the Blanche’s audition:

Growing Pains wins on overall plot because they do follow the Our Town script and we see a lot of their production! Also, I’ve never seen Christa Denton in anything other than this (she plays “Monica” as Our Town‘s “Emily) but oh my gosh I can’t take my eyes off her. She makes what could be a boring ingenue role really charming to watch.

The Golden Girls is great but um…they definitely go off book…as it turns out the out of town actor paying the lead turns out to be a romantic scammer. He sleeps with the entire cast of women and tells them all that they’re secretly in love. He’s gross. The GOOD NEWS is that Blanche confronts him on stage and it does kind of track with the performance…he’s playing a drifter…the call him out for lying to everyone…and then Dorothy, the sheriff, runs him out of “town.” The audience, none the wiser, erupts in applause. But it’s unclear how exactly the show will continue after the opening scene…it’s probably just a wrap at that point.

Very Special Winner: The Golden Girls

Bracket Challenge: The Show Within a Show Showdown

It’s been a looong time since we did a bracket challenge, Very Special Readers! In fact, I thought of doing one during quarantine but I couldn’t remember how to do them because that’s how much my brain didn’t work! Anyway, I’m happy to say that most (if not all) of my executive functioning has since returned. With that said, allow me to introduce The Show Within a Show Showdown.

The Golden Girls': Memorable Images from the Iconic 1980s Series | IndieWire

Each of the shows in the showdown were selected because each production included a least one of our regular lead characters. The productions are “real” within the context of the show, a.k.a. no dream sequences, daydreams, or hallucinations (this excluded the “Lucy Goes to Scotland” episode of I Love Lucy).

We also must see the cast in full costume for a minimum of one full minute’s worth of airtime (this excluded a super cute Sister, Sister sequence which only had about forty seconds worth of “show within a show time” and just isn’t enough airtime to compare it to the other contenders.) While my reviews will describe the episode in its entirely, points will only be awarded for the show within a show. Thus, there needs to be enough of the play or musical itself to be able to give it a score within the point system.

Saved By The Bell”s Most Iconic Episodes | ETCanada.com

Here’s the point system:

All episodes will be graded on a 5 point scale and the winning episode will have the higher score in each matchup:

For MUSICALS*
-Overall Plot of the musical – 1 point
-Music – 1 point
-Choreography – 1 point
-Costumes – 1 point
-Scenic Design – 1 point

For PLAYS
-Overall Plot of the play – 2 points
-Costumes – 1 point
-Scenic Design – 1 point
-Staging – 1 point

*Please note, I will use the play rating scale for the final round when a musical faces off against a play.

Any questions? Pop them in the comments below and I’ll get back to you!

Grab your bracket below! And stay tuned for posts every Monday starting January 10th.