Nothing beats a comeback from Zbornak.
Dorothy Zbornak was The Golden Girls’ whip-smart, one-liner queen. She was savage in her takedowns and ruthless in her comebacks. Whether insulting Rose’s intelligence or poking fun at Blanche’s busy boudoir, Bea Arthur knew how to deliver a zinger with a deadpan expression and effortless comedic timing. She made us laugh until we cried, and here are some of her most memorable quips.
“I better not say anything ‘til I’ve had my coffee…a slut and a moron. I’m sorry it must be decaf.”
Dorothy awakes one morning in her usual mood — a perfect amalgamation of cynicism, impatience, and sarcasm — and enters the kitchen ready to take her frustrations out on Rose and Blanche. She notes that her life would be different if she had the financial means to live alone. But, instead, she’s forced to cope with two roommates who possess, well, strong personalities.
She hesitates before flinging a concise and biting insult to take a sip of her coffee and ponder her phrasing. Ultimately, she rakes them through the coals after a fleeting moment of consideration. It’s typical Dorothy. No shame. No regret. She says it like it is. Though these two adjectives are harsh, the show is a testament to their accuracy (not that we support the slut-shaming). And the little “I’m sorry it must be decaf” line — which she utters slightly muted with an air of dismissal and nonchalance — is the scrumptious icing on the cake, or should we say the graham cracker crust on the cheesecake?
“In what Blanche — dog years?”
When Blanche notes that she will be going on a date with a man who is nearly five years younger, Dorothy asks this, for five years is a bit of an understatement. There’s likely over a decade between Blanche and this week’s man of interest.
Blanche has always lied about her age, yet Dorothy does not let her get away with such delusions. Blanche can delude herself, but Dorothy will not allow this fellow Golden gal to think for a second that she believes such blatant cockamamy.
“Not even if you were hanging upside down on a trapeze.”
When Blanche notes that she has been compared to Charlie’s Angels star Cheryl Ladd, she goes on to explain that, though they may bear a striking resemblance, she has perkier bosoms. This zinger slips from Dorothy’s tongue with fervor, as she lingers on the p in trapeze to let it pop with intensity. She delivers the line with a side-eye as she looks down at Blanche with a bit of furrowed brow.
“Better than anyone I know.”
This may be one of Dorothy’s most famous responses in The Golden Girls. Rose asks her if she can ask a dumb question — a commonly uttered rhetorical phrase before asking something others may deem foolish. Yet, rather than handling it as rhetorical, Dorothy Zbornak (an English teacher lest you forget) answers the “can” aspect, noting that Rose sure can…and she’s quite excellent at it. Dorothy pokes fun at Rose’s intelligence throughout The Golden Girls, but this remains one of the funniest remarks for its sheer unpredictability, as we didn’t exactly expect Dorothy to chime in before Rose began to ask her “dumb” question.
“We have Maalox and Estrogen.”
After they’ve been robbed, Rose notes that the perps may have been looking for drugs, to which Dorothy utters this quick reply. The only drugs in the house are for hormone control and acid reflux. Who robs four old women looking for drugs? It’s such an idiotic statement that only a Dorothy quip could rebuke.
“Spare me the endless inane details of how Heidi Flugen Doogle Gergen Plots successfully matched a bull with a duck.”
When Rose begins to recount a St. Olaf story about a matchmaker, Dorothy cuts her off before she travels down a neverending, winding narrative road with little-to-no take-away worthy of merit.
Dorothy just doesn’t have the patience at the moment. Rose is often flinging around weird names and nonsense words with “ugen” and “ergen” in them, so this merely shows how many stories Dorothy has listened to — she has endured so many ridiculous tales she can fabricate her own Rose-ified story.
“No, Blanche, with a Venus Fly Trap.”
Blanche is always surprised when Dorothy has a date — as if she’s some sort of monster with a hunchback incapable of landing a man for a night out. Thus, when Dorothy says she has a date, and Blanche asks “With a man?,” she hurls this insult with viciousness. It’s a testament to her festering aggravation with the sexless persona Blanche has assigned to her. And, her quick tongue has always been how she asserts her superiority.
“And I am the Pygmy Queen”
Rose comes storming into the room proclaiming “I am the smartest woman in the whole world,” and Dorothy says this as a combination of shock and (dare we say) disgust crawl across her face. The sheer impossibility of Rose’s statement can only be met with an equally impossible declaration, and Dorothy pulls this out from up her sleeve as if it’s been sitting there for seasons.