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‘Golden Girls 3033’: ‘BoJack’ Director’s Animated Pilot Sends ‘The Golden Girls’ to the Future — Exclusive

Using original audio from Betty White and Bea Arthur's classic sitcom, "Golden Girls 3033" reimagines the four friends in a brand-new series — and its creator hopes to make more.

Golden Girls 3033 Golden Girls animated series reboot

“Golden Girls 3033”

Courtesy of Mike Hollingsworth

For years, Mike Hollingsworth has found creative ways to inject jokes into animated comedies. Working as the supervising director on “BoJack Horseman,” as well as “Tuca & Bertie,” “Inside Job,” and more, Hollingsworth fills frame after frame with visual humor — from cutaway punchlines and background puns, to silent callbacks and quips written on T-shirts, chyrons, and more.

Now, he’s applying his impressive skillset to a stone-cold classic of live-action television: “The Golden Girls.” In “Golden Girls 3033,” a pilot made to elicit a series order, Hollingsworth reimagines Susan Harris’ beloved sitcom with animation, relying on the original scripts and audio as a jumping off point before shaping fresh episodes for a story set more than 1,000 years in the future. Blanche (Rue McClanahan), Dorothy (Bea Arthur), Rose (Betty White), and Sophia (Estelle Getty) all still share a house in Miami — but it’s the year 3033, they’ve discovered the Fountain of Youth, and now Sophia walks around in the hulking body of a giant yellow robot, among other colorful changes.

IndieWire spoke with Hollingsworth to get the early details on “Golden Girls 3033,” but before reading all about it, watch the initial episode below.

After growing up watching “The Golden Girls,” the idea for a new series came to Hollingsworth almost by accident, while he was working on “BoJack Horseman” and pitching other shows to various networks. Most of those ideas were based around “doing what other people wanted,” and he soon shifted gears.

“Out of frustration, I just started coming up with the craziest ideas, like the most ridiculous concepts,” Hollingsworth said. “I was just riffing in the directors’ room at ‘BoJack,’ like, ‘Well, of course, I’m also working on a show — it’s ‘The Golden Girls,’ [but] they find the fountain of youth, and now they’re in the future.’ It made all the directors laugh, so I would return to it conversationally.”

“Then I realized I’m having so much more fun talking about this ridiculous [show] and ideas for it — like Dorothy’s ex-husband, Stan, is a squid alien — than I was while trying to pitch what they were asking for.”

When the pandemic struck, Hollingsworth decided to make the pilot himself. The five-minute episode offers a clear taste for what’s to come, though future episodes would ideally be half-hour entries, crafted by a full team of professional writers and animators. Hollingsworth also recognizes the sitcom’s significance to the gay community. His brother Bryan worked on the pilot’s character design, and Hollingsworth hopes to put more LGBTQ voices “in the driver’s seat” if “Golden Girls 3033” goes to series.

“It’s ultimately a celebration of the material,” he said. “With this concept, you’re getting the original performances. These are the words that Susan Harris wrote, and these are the performances that she oversaw as a director.”

Using “The Golden Girls” scripts as the outline for episodes freed Hollingsworth to think of how he could embellish the already crackling storylines. The pilot alone includes flying robots grafting a new hand for Dorothy, Blanche using an in-house food generator to instantly make “Dateless Dessert for One,” and a compact car joke with a timeless yet era-specific punchline.

“The format is so elastic,” he said. “The original scripts are the jumping boards, then — just like I did on ‘BoJack’ and ‘Inside Job’ — it’s just cramming jokes in, no wasted opportunities, with visual jokes everywhere.”

“I essentially created a little universe where I was able to tag these terrific jokes — they’re all alley oops and slam dunks — which, when you’re talking about ‘Golden Girls,’ you want to make a lot of sports references.”

The concept paired with Hollingsworth’s passion has already courted interest from networks. Once word got out about his pitch, he was approached about applying the same animated methodology to other live-action comedies, like “Perfect Strangers” and “Welcome Back Kotter.” But nothing could compare to “The Golden Girls.”

“These ladies are essentially like the Marx Brothers from the ’80s,” Hollingsworth said. “Their delivery is fantastic. The writing sparkles. There’s a Lisa Bonet nose ring joke in there, and it doesn’t [even] bump.”

Prior to Warner Bros. Discovery shutting down the Turner Networks’ original programming wing, Hollingsworth said TBS executives were “looking at [‘Golden Girls 3033’] in a big way.”

“At TBS, they were [like], ‘We will make this. We would love to make this, but you have to figure out all the legal stuff,'” he said. “My representatives and I started poking around Disney, asking, ‘How do we make this?’ The concept was so obtuse: ‘Golden Girls,’ fountain of youth, the future. We were just having trouble getting past those lawyer gatekeepers.”

Now, Hollingsworth sees not only an opportunity, but demand. “Golden Girls” merchandise is everywhere, from Urban Outfitters and Target to Etsy and your local stationary store. Hulu has seen steady interest since debuting the full series on streaming. And if Jack Donaghy taught us anything, it’s that there’s nothing corporations love more than synergy.

“My dream for this is to be on Disney+ or Hulu,” Hollingsworth, who is represented by Bradford Bricken at The Cartel, said. “Even though some of the references may be dated, the comedy and the concepts that they’re dealing with seem so prescient. Young people are still talking about it and buying greeting cards of it, and books of quotes and stuff. It just holds up.”

“The show that I’m pitching could just be the beginning of the whole Golden Girls-a-verse — like the Marvel Universe, but with ‘The Golden Girls.'”

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