Saturday, August 22, 2009

The "Golden Girls" Guide to Telling a Great Story

I am not ashamed to admit that The Golden Girls is one of my favorite all-time shows. It still stands as one of the funniest, sharpest sitcoms ever, and was successful with a cast and premise you would never see on today's shows.

As I do with everything, I have been watching this show through the eyes of a teacher. Not surprisingly, I found a lesson we could all learn from: how to tell a captivating story.

Sophia Petrillo, the "little old lady" portrayed by the late Estelle Getty, had a tendency to tell amazing stories to teach her roommates a simple lesson.

It's the structure of the story that makes it work. First, she sets the scene: "Picture it: Sicily, 1921..." and she's grabbed your attention. She tells the story with an air of wisdom and confidence, and you find yourself as engrossed as the girls always are.

Then, she hits you with the punchline, and you find yourself wondering how she managed to say so much in only about a minute.

Now in contrast, Rose Nyland, the bubbly bubblehead played by the great Betty White, always claimed to have a story from her mythical hometown of St. Olaf, Minnesota that her roommates knew would be ridiculous. Nevertheless, Rose's conviction and seriousness in revealing one ridiculous detail after another absolutely hooks you in. Where could she possible be going with this, you think. And then, she drops the knowledge on you.

I hope you've learned something today!