The real reason the Golden Girls kitchen table only had three chairs

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Seasoned viewers won’t find it surprising that the settings where their favorite shows are filmed or recorded often look oddly similar. From Jerry’s apartment on “Seinfeld” to the spot shared by Sheldon and Leonard on “The Big Bang Theory,” the image is one of a single room with chairs or sofas facing forward as well as tables or worktops. Likewise, much of the action in “The Golden Girls” took place in a relatively simple kitchen setup, complete with a center table and chairs. But why only three chairs? And why are the chairs placed where they are?

The reason lies in the logistics of placing the cameras vis-à-vis blocking the positions and movements of the actors for this kind of television program. If a chair was set at the table with its back turned to the audience, and an actor was setting there, well, you see where we’re going, don’t you? No audience wants to spend time staring at the back of their favorite character’s head. And no actor wants to spend time in front of his friend on camera. From the book “Golden Girls Forever: Unauthorized Gaze From Behind The VerandaJim Colucci’s assistant artistic director John Shaffner revealed that they decided to always let one of the women do something else – if all four were in the scene – be it making tea or standing next to it.

And that’s why you’ll never see more than three of the “Girls” sitting at the table – just a little bit of Sitcom Staging 101.


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