The Golden Girls was a real trailblazer of a sitcom. The primary cast of older women seeking love, sex, and companionship was a new type of show. It was also relentlessly funny.
One of the quirkiest characters was Rose, played by Betty White. She was an innocent yet naive woman from Minnesota. Growing up in the Midwest, she had many stories of Scandinavian-style silliness.
Rose would often tell the women she rooms with these stories with comical results. One of her most notable stories was The Great Herring War. She describes this tale at the kitchen table to Rue McClanahan and Bea Arthur amid a fight.
McClanahan and Arthur are perfectly in character at first. When they first hear White cite the title, they’re confused about how this story relates to their argument. They won’t maintain a character for long.
White’s story gets ridiculous when she speaks of herrings performing in the circus. McClanahan asks if the herrings would be hard to see riding on the elephants. The dialogue is too much for Arthur to take.
While Arthur covers her smirk, White continues her description of the circus. White describes it as Sea World, only smaller. McClanahan looks down, trying to hide her smile.
Arthur is such a hysterical mess she can barely get out her following line. She gives a bit of a laugh as she asks if the herrings were shot out of canons.
At this point, both McClanahan and Arthur are turning away, trying to cover their laughter. The audience is laughing as well.
As White describes the herrings being shot out of canons, McClanahan and Arthur have given up covering their laughter. They cackle and pound their hands on the table.
Even White can’t resist laughing at the story. The snickering of McClanahan and Arthur becomes infectious. They’re all laughing by the end of the story.
The scene ends the way most feuds end in The Golden Girls. Rose brings out a cheesecake, and all differences are resolved.
With such remarkable chemistry, it’s easy to see why The Golden Girls remained a sitcom staple. The hit show lasted for 180 episodes between 1985 and 1992. While the entire cast was great, White certainly had the finest of comedic chops.