Recently, I’ve began watching reruns of “The Golden Girls.” I liked the series when it first aired and despite the dated political jokes and pop culture references, I find that it holds up pretty well today. Blanche, Rose, Dorothy and Dorothy’s mother Sophia, despite the usual over-the-top treatment given to sitcom characters, the plot lines are funny, real and endearing, making for an entertaining half hour.
While watching it the other day, I had a thought: How would four women, either near retirement age or past it, be treated in such a show should ObamaCare become the law of the land? How would the writers and producers deal with the following episodes, if they were written in a world of socialized medicine?
Stan Takes a Wife: Sophia, who hasn’t been feeling well, is suddenly hospitalized with pneumonia and the doctor tells Dorothy, who’s keeping an all-night vigil in the waiting room with her ex-husband Stan, that they’re doing all they can, but Sophia might not make it. If the episode were written under ObamaCare specifics, would the doctor tell Dorothy that her mother was too old for treatment and that she was being sent home with painkillers to keep her comfortable until the end?
Not Another Monday: Sophia’s friend Martha, tired of the pain, suffering the loneliness of old age, wants to end it all with a bottle of pills and asks Sophia to be there to “hold her hand” at the end. Despite Dorothy’s worrying, Sophia keeps her promise and makes the date - and convinces Martha that life is worth living despite its difficulties. (I actually had a tear in my eye during this episode.) Imagine if Martha had seen her end-of-life counselor before she saw Sophia. Sophia might have ended the episode like it began - coming back from a funeral.
In fact, would “The Golden Girls” even be considered as a television show if ObamaCare takes over? Either the writers would have to ignore the health issues related with getting older, or the shared home in Miami would see a lot of new roommates over the years.
Taking it one step further, what about hospital dramas like “E.R.”? Would they focus less upon “can we save this man’s life” and more upon “is this life-saving procedure allowed?”
It might seem frivolous to compare a television sitcom to the grave situation before us, but most television shows, even sitcoms, reflect the realities of the day. And either the grim realities of ObamaCare would make their way into our entertainment or our entertainment would be altered to avoid such realities.
Either option is disturbing.
Tracey McMillian works in editorial design at the Empire-Tribune. She can be reached at 254-968-2379, ext. 239.