"I did 2 very important things in my life - 'Torch Song Trilogy,' which changed the face of the American theater, and 'The Golden Girls,' which changed people's attitudes toward older characters," Estelle Getty told Rick Du Brow of the 'Los Angeles Times' in 1992. Between 1985 and 1992, 'The Golden Girls' was at the "forefront of a new age of TV dramedy." Rue McClanahan remembered, "It was revolutionary in that it was using women as its leads - women over 50, which was, 'Oh my word!', so daring and unheard of."
Brandon Tartikoff believed, "'Golden Girls' defies all the demographic rules of television." Estelle told Clifford Terry of the 'Chicago Tribune', "I never expected it to be such a hit. I think it's a success because it is funny and honest and well acted, and it's about people you know." Rue also told Randy Alexander of 'Newhouse', "Everybody seemed to respond. I think we were the first to do this type of thing."
"My objective is to entertain, to be funny," Susan Harris told Ed Bark of 'Dallas Morning News'. "Then along the way, if I can make a point or raise an issue, that's terrific." Rue remarked, "I guess I'm not really that concerned about setting trends so much as depicting life or at least helping to solve problems and give people alternatives." TV analyst Michael Dann observed, "The remarkable thing about 'The Golden Girls' is that its audience cuts through all age groups. One show is a hit, 2 is a trend."
David Poltrack of CBS told the Associated Press in 1989, "The major population shift is the aging of the baby boomers. When they were young, television was very youth-oriented. Gradually, the television networks are recognizing that the advantage is to go with this aging baby boomer generation." Susan acknowledged, "I think it was the first time I'd ever been excited about a network idea … On TV, you cannot write for adults – realistic adults. The boundaries have not been stretched as much as they have in feature films." Although "in film, the writer has no power and most films are never made. At least in television, you get to see it done right away. So there are payoffs."
However Brandon cautioned, "But you also have to look at consumer habits. Our standard approach is to come up with a good show that has as widespread an appeal as possible. 'Golden Girls' is a show that recognizes the graying of America but it's universal in its appeal. It attracts teenagers and young people as well. It defies advertisers who thought it would be a show that would appeal to only people over 50."
Paul Schulman spent $175 million in one year buying network ads for 14 companies offered, "I think 'The Golden Girls' was a phenomenon in itself and all the imitations will bite the dust quickly. Young people are still the key to high prices on a network. The most expensive show on TV today (in the 1989-1990 season) is 'Cheers' because of its enormous appeal to the 18-49 audience. 'The Cosby Show' has a higher rating but it attracted a large number of kids. The aim of every network programmer is to get another 'Cheers' or 'Roseanne'. At CBS, 'Wiseguy' doesn't get a big rating but that's the show all the advertisers ask for because of its young demographics."
One critic reasoned, "'The Golden Girls' has found a marvelous cast to inject life into a fairly standard situation comedy." Susan conceded, "We're not doing anything that you probably wouldn't find on daytime television in the soaps, or on the 7 o'clock news. What we've done you've seen before." Betty White told Alan Carter of 'New York Daily News' in 1989. "No one thought that a sitcom about 4 women of this certain age would do well with the TV audience.
"It shocks me how we cross over into all demographic groups. I don't think I really knew that we had a hit until I saw the first script. Still, I prayed a lot." David Poltrack made the comment at the time, "When people pass 40 they become more interested in news and information-based shows. The networks are losing audience to competitors but the news and information shows are stable. You'll see more of these shows in the 1990s.”