The Netflix original series, Grace and Frankie, started streaming on May 8th. Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Martin Sheen, and Sam Waterston—of Law and Order fame—comprise the main cast. Each star shines brilliantly.
The premise, on its surface, is somewhat amusing: two male law partners leave their wives and marry each other. (“We can do that now.”)
The two couples went in on a house and vacation home together. The two soon-to-be ex-wives inevitably end up living together, despite effectively hating each other. They are polar opposites.
The show’s humor largely comes from these two older women re-learning how to navigate single life.
Grace and Frankie has its hilarious moments, but the best thing about it is its heart.
Expectantly, the quality comes largely from the characters. One of the husbands, Sol, has few boundaries with anyone--even, or maybe especially, with Frankie (his ex-wife). He can’t help but care. In one scene, about a week or so after the split, Sol visits the vacation home. After an event triggers his ex, he dedicates three hours to comforting her. Part of that comes from the enlightened, “hippie” lifestyle Sol and Frankie chose—in great contrast to Grace and Robert’s conservative lifestyle.
The secondary characters add to both aspects, and provide a few instantly recognizable familiar faces. Grace’s two daughters are portrayed by Brooklyn Decker and June Diane Raphael—Palmer in Just Go With It and Maya in Year One, respectively. One of Frankie’s adopted sons is portrayed by Ethan Embry of National Lampoon and Can’t Hardly Wait.
So far, the series does a great job of balancing humor with the reality of the plot. A strong sense of mourning follow each woman in the show. Even conservative Grace can accept that Robert and Sol love each other. However, each marriage lasted for about 40 years—the affair for 20, before Robert and Sol came out.
It’s refreshing to see an “older” show so accepting of progress. It’s also, honestly, VERY refreshing to see an “older” show that is so open about sex, and vaginal dryness--the realities of old age, and the betrayal of a long-time secret. The last mainstream show to attempt it, Golden Girls, ended in 1992.
If you have not yet seen the show, do that--now. The first season of the show is only 13 episodes, at 30 minutes each. Even the laziest Netflixer can get through that in a day.