The Real Reason The Golden Girls Only Had Three Chairs Around The Kitchen Table

While many of us rave about movies, TV shows, and stage productions, a few of us give any thought to "blocking" — the process through which a director works out where an actor is and what he or she does in relation to other elements in the scene. That includes a fellow actor, parts of a set, and the camera, when the scene is being filmed. Being able to block properly is considered by those in the entertainment industry to be a critical skill, because when a scene is not properly blocked, it actually takes away — or puts the wrong emphasis — on whatever is playing out (via MasterClass).

Blocking is the reason why "The Golden Girls," which has a cast of four main characters, only had three chairs around the dining table. In any given kitchen scene, actresses Beatrice Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty were never seen all sitting together at the table. While the kitchen in Miami's 6151 Richmond Street should have been big enough to accommodate all four women and allow them to enjoy a meal at the same time, there would (and could) never be more than three chairs around the table. 

Blocking made it impossible for a fourth chair to be added

As Selena Barrientos reveals in House Beautiful, just three rooms had been originally prepared when "The Golden Girls" first went to air: The lanai, the living room, and Rue McClanahan's bedroom. The kitchen, which was retrieved and recycled from another show, was added in later.

Blocking within the set made it impossible for the kitchen table to have more than three chairs. Barrientos reveals that "to avoid squeezing all four shoulder-to-shoulder and more importantly, to not have an actress with her back to the camera, only three women usually sat at the table." The fourth actress ended up sitting on a stool or standing at the island — making the scene more visually appealing to the audience as well.

Deciding who sat where wasn't a random decision either, because as Kara Kovalchik points out in Mental Floss, who got a chair "depended upon the particular situation, and which character might need to exit the kitchen." And we can all agree that the director responsible for the blocking did a terrific job.

While having just three kitchen chairs around the table might have triggered some confusion among viewers who thought hard about it, we can all agree that it worked out in the end.