The Age of Grace and Frankie
In recent years, Netflix has become famous for the binge-worthy television series' it has to offer, such as Orange is the New Black, Stranger Things, Jane the Virgin, Breaking Bad, Gossip Girl and the list goes on. Most of the shows span several seasons, and despite the platform constantly switching up its vast selection of films, it appears that it is these long-running shows that keep viewers watching and paying their subscription fees. They range from cartoons to comedy, horror and drama, yet when Netflix created Grace and Frankie, they managed to fill an otherwise previously empty space in their content.
Grace (Jane Fonda) and Frankie (Lily Tomlin) are women in their late seventies who face the life-changing realisation that their respective husbands, (Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston) have been having an affair for the last twenty years – with each other. Chaos ensues, and the drastically different women end up moving in together in their old beach house. Grace prides herself on appearance and elegance, as well as hard-faced business and organisation, whilst Frankie is an artist, an activist, a spiritualist, and what many would refer to as a ‘hippie’. The stark contrast between the two begrudging friends is hilarious.
Yet this comedic aspect to the show is only one of the many reasons why it resonates so profoundly with viewers and was, therefore, renewed in January for its sixth season next year. The show tackles adoption, LGBTQ+ relationships in old age, friendship, ageing, sex, retirement, activism, health and family, all through the lens of four protagonists over the age of 70 – a perspective that viewers don’t often get to experience. However, whilst there are frequent reminders throughout the five seasons of the characters’ ages, and potential health issues as a result of this, the drama and comedy of the show hold firm and the characters are extremely well developed. As a result, the show has garnered an ever-growing fan base from all generations.
Grace and Frankie is diverse, thought-provoking and funny, and its beach house setting leaves viewers feeling as though they’re on holiday, watching a family drama unfold. The women grow through their differences and are influenced and changed by each other, and it’s easy to see parts of yourself in both Grace and Frankie, which makes the show unexpectedly relatable, no matter your age.
It is refreshing to watch two elderly men embracing their love for each other, whilst also maintaining a deep affection for their previous wives, and it is equally refreshing to watch the women get hurt and then angry; they are 70-year-old women with power, attitude and an ever-growing sense of self-awareness, rather than the typical ‘grandmother’ characters that are often added into films and television shows as soft, wise, and usually dying family members of the twenty-something protagonists. In fact, when describing both Grace and Frankie, ‘grandmother’ is actually one of the last words that come to mind. Before this, they are strong, creative, hilarious, stubborn, free-spirited, independent, dynamic women who refuse to be treated their age.
Or, as an avid viewer and friend of mine once said ‘two women who don’t give a flying f***’.
Season 5 of Grace and Frankie is available to stream on Netflix now, with Season 6 currently in production.
[Photo credits: Paul Schultz, CC BY 2.0.]