A few days ago while on Yahoo, an advertisement floated on top of the web page about a new program from Netflix entitled, Grace and Frankie. It’s a Netflix original that started streaming May 8, 2015. I thought I would check out the new comedy, mostly out of curiosity about the two major stars in the program, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomblin. To add to the cast Martin Sheen and Tom Waterston, along with a few other characters makes up a fascinating show that has been termed a “dramedy.” (You get it – drama and comedy mixed into one.) I just binge watched eight out of the thirteen episodes this weekend and will probably finish season one before Monday morning.
So what is this show about? Well, I had no idea until I logged into Netflix and sat down to watch. The premise is one that will probably knock the socks off of you. Unfortunately, spoiler alert, I will have to tell you what’s in the first episode. The first episode opens with Grace and Frankie meeting for dinner, who are wives of two business partners who are lawyers. Their personalities are as opposite as you can get. Grace (played by Jane Fonda), is a skinny, gorgeous aging women with class. Frankie, on the other hand, has a leftover hippie mentality from the sixties that will have you in stitches as the show continues. Needless to say, up until this point, they have never been bosom buddies.
As they sit contemplating why their husbands arranged the dinner, they decide they are probably going to announce their retirement. Instead, as they join them in the restaurant, the two announce that they are in love and have been having an affair with each other for the past twenty years. Now that gay marriage is legalized and they can get married, they want divorces so they can spend the latter years of their lives pursuing a happy chapter of love.
Of course, the shock that ensues when their wives hear of their plans is undoubtedly classic, as the yelling starts and Grace begins to throw food at Robert (Sheen), her husband. As a result, Grace and Frankie share the same brokenness over the announcement, but both aging women (now 70 years old) handle the situation differently. They are thrown together as their husbands begin divorce proceedings and end up living together in the joint beach house that has been co-owned by both families.
Even though the premise may be shocking, Fonda and Tomlin do a stellar job. It’s not often that a show has pulled me into both tears and loud laughter (hence the “dramedy”). Jane Fonda, who some may not like (frankly, I cannot believe how hot this woman is and so freaking skinny – which fact is humorously poked at throughout by Frankie), brought such emotion across the screen that pricked my heart. Tomlin, in her own way, deals with her grief through marijuana, peyote tea, chanting, incense, dancing, and soul searching in a way that will have you in stitches. Even though Jane is a knockout, she pokes fun at her own droopy flabby arm flesh.
The show will probably not engage the younger generation. Frankly, I doubt they will get the pain of aging (that is both depressing and funny). No doubt it will draw the fifty-plus audience of aging men and women instead. One poignant scene brought me to tears where Jane is ignored at a check-out counter in a store. It accentuate the depressing fact that she had become irrelevant in the scheme of society compared to the youth who surround us. Last week, while watching Midsomer on Netflix, one aging man mentioned that growing old makes you invisible. I’m finding at my age that invisibility and irrelevance are two keen state of affairs that I have begun to experience.
The show will hit hard on some of the aging aspects of womanhood, mostly with comedy. As far as the males, the relationship of Sol (Tom Waterston) and Robert (Martin Sheen), is given nearly equal time as they deal with their coming out. The newfound relationship affects not only their social circles but that of the grown children of both marriages (Sol has two adopted sons – Robert has two daughters). To add to the dramedy, the show focuses on the struggles of their offspring to accept the situation.
Grace and Frankie may be shocking and irreverent to some viewers. However, if you are not easily offended by the oddity of the situation and the stark bluntness about being an aging woman, you no doubt will experience tears and laughter too.