Flashback: The Golden Girls Pilot Included a Fifth, Male Housemate
Do y’all remember Coco?
Dorothy, Rose, Blanche, Sophia… and Coco? Almost.
Few people remember that when The Golden Girls premiered in 1985 it actually featured a male roommate: a sassy drag performer-turned-housekeeper named Coco.
It seems like ancient history now, but Charles Levin was actually cast to play the fifth lead in the beloved sitcom. He's even included in the show's promotional photos!
Coco appears (cooking enchiladas rancheros) in the very first scene of the pilot episode. But then, faster than Rose can get in a St. Olaf reference, he disappears for the remainder of the show's seven seasons.
According to Decider, almost all of Coco's parts ended up on the editing room floor after the pilot was filmed. Following edits and reshoots to cut the episode down by five minutes, Coco's only real contribution to the pilot was serving drinks.
Reportedly, producers saw more promise in Estelle Getty's Sophia—who was originally supposed to be a minor character—than they did in Levin's openly gay Coco.
So, when The Golden Girls was later picked up by NBC, Levin wasn't included.
We can't help but wonder how the show might have been different had Coco remained. Yet, even without him, The Golden Girls still remained true to its mission of representation.
"The show may not have had a gay character, but it dealt with gay issues in a more honest and upfront fashion than any other show up until that point," Brett White writes for Decider. "The LGBT community, particularly gay men, have latched onto the show because of this."
So, if you need us, we'll be rewatching The Golden Girls pilot.