Was Rose On Drugs For Most Of “The Golden Girls”?

You'll never watch the girls the same way again.

Golden Girls stans know that in Season 4, Rose struggled with an addiction to pain pills. In the episode “High Anxiety,” we learn she’d been dependent on them for 30 years, and Sophia, Dorothy, and Blanche found out just how crazed Rose could be if she didn’t take her pills—turning into a completely different person who screams things like “Just get off my damn back!”

It’s all very unlike Rose, who usually has a, well, rosy disposition.

She finally went to rehab for a 30-day dryout, leading Blanche to worry. “She may not be same Rose we know. She may be an entirely different person.”

It was one of the show’s “very special” episodes, tackling a topical subject. But it also suggests that Rose was popping pills for the entirety of GG’s first four seasons. For folks who know each episode by heart, that’s a real mindfuck.

In August, writer Darcie Wilder postulated this theory on The Cut: “Every single scene in every single previous episode is altered with the knowledge that she could have been high as a kite… Everything we know to be true about Rose could be a total lie.”

So when Rose bought a gun to thwart a burglar, when lesbian Jean fell in love with her, when she thought she was killing the men she dated by sleeping with them, she was zonked on opiates.

Her children and sister, Lily, never seemed to notice. And the doctors treating her for her esophageal spasm definitely missed it.

Christopher Rice called attention to the Rose-as-drug-addict theory recently on Twitter.

Of course sitcoms are legendary for introducing storylines that disappear by the next episode, so we’re not 100% sold. And on the Golden Girls podcast Out on the Lanai, hosts H. Alan Scott and Kerri Doherty brought up a continuity flaw in “High Anxiety”: Rose tells the girls it’s a bad day for her to quit pills because it’s the anniversary of the death of her cat, Fluffy.

Dorothy then points out that Rose is allergic to cats—but Rose had a cat—Mr. Peepers, who appeared in the Season One episode “The Way We Met.”

Or maybe Peepers was just a Oxycotin-fueled hallucination?

Trish Bendix is a Los Angeles-based writer.
@trishbendix