It’s no secret that opportunities for actresses drop significantly after they turn 50. It gets worse after 60. And if they’re 70? Forget about it. That’s part of what makes Netflix’s show “Grace and Frankie” such a breath of fresh air. It’s a show about two wonderfully different, yet perfectly matched 70-year-old women, without only focusing on their age. There are episodes about their sex lives, romantic relationships, family dynamics, embarrassments and accomplishments. But overall, it’s a story about female friendship.
The series begins with the revelation that Grace and Frankie’s husbands, Robert and Sol, are leaving them to pursue a homosexual relationship with each other. Both couples had been married for 40 years, and it turns out the last 20 of which Robert and Sol, business partners at a divorce firm, had been fooling around. This shock sets the series in motion, and while it initially destroys the women, it also sets them free to begin a new chapter of their lives.
The title roles are played by Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, and the casting is undeniably perfect. Fonda plays Grace, an uptight cosmetics mogul whose aged beauty and sophisticated style makes her a stark opposite to Tomlin’s character, Frankie. Frankie is an absolute gem, an overall-wearing hippy art teacher who talks to herself regularly and has a habit of enjoying recreational drugs. Over time the women come to lean and rely on each other, and eventually they fall in love as friends. They relate over the turmoil caused by their unfaithful gay ex-husbands, but along the way realize that they are more similar than they initially thought. They go on all kinds of adventures, experience spiritual awakenings and endure existential crises. They have an amazing chemistry together, and their age plays in their favor as they reminisce often of good times long past.
But something that will strike viewers off guard is the undeniable humor of the show. Although it tackles tough issues like addiction, infidelity, divorce and death, it will still have you smiling in the end. Fonda and Tomlin are comedy legends, and nail their title roles perfectly. Even college students will find themselves laughing at these “chronologically advanced” women.
The show premiered on Netflix back in 2015 and has since added four additional seasons for viewers. Last February the series was renewed for a fifth season. “Grace and Frankie” has been recognized at the Primetime Emmy Awards and the Golden Globes for Tomlin and Fonda’s roles. Each season consists of 13 episodes, roughly half an hour long.