“Grace and Frankie” is Netflix’s gift to Baby Boomers. The sitcom, which began in 2015, released its fifth season in 2019 and is scheduled to release a sixth season in 2020. That’s good news for fans.
If you haven’t had the good fortune of discovering this series yet, you’re in for a treat. It’s a refreshing media depiction of Baby Boomers being people worth paying attention to. And you can't beat the chemistry between the two stars.
Grace (Jane Fonda) and Frankie (Lily Tomlin), who were not friends, knew each other because their husbands (Martin Sheen and Sam Waterson) were law partners.
The show kicks off as the husbands are meeting their wives in a fancy restaurant with a special and totally unexpected announcement.
Turns out the husbands have been having an affair with each other for 20 years and now want to be public about it. They want to divorce the wives so they can be together.
That shocking betrayal is not what makes “Grace and Frankie” a great television show for Boomers. It’s instead the adventures, misadventures and developing friendships of the two women over the years.
Grace is an uppity, tightly wound corporate type professional. She successfully founded and ran a cosmetic company that was turned over to her oldest daughter on retirement.
Her second daughter is married with children until she runs into her own marital issues.
At the beginning of the series, Grace and Frankie are just reaching 70, the age of the leading-edge Baby Boomers about that time. In real life Fonda and Tomlin are a few years older than Boomers, but they easily fit the part.
Frankie is almost the exact opposite of Grace. She’s hippy-dippy, free-spirited, artsy and often spacey, accustomed to a Bohemian lifestyle. She has two grown sons with their own set of problems.
Because of the situation they find themselves thrust into by their husbands’ decision, they become unlikely roommates.
Forced to get past their differences, they discover they in fact do have much in common and complement each other, eventually becoming best buds.
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Grace loosens up considerably and Frankie gets more stable – to a degree. To the creators’ credit (Marta Kauffman and Howard J. Morris), their characters come across as authentic and complex older women still interested in living with gusto.
They are vibrant, smart, funny, willing to try new things.
They don’t approach aging as a time to give up on life. They want to get the most out of it, including sex and romance.
In the third season, they come up with a quirky business idea for appealing to women in their demographic – vibrators that are easy to use. The idea turns out to be wildly popular.
While the guys navigating their new world is informative and timely, it’s not nearly as much fun as Grace and Frankie’s shenanigans.
But the men, too, have to deal with the similar relevant issues of getting older, finding their way, being seen and heard, and forging a long-term relationship.
And they all still care deeply about their former spouses, often coming to the rescue of one another or one of the children, none of whom are very exciting.
The final episode of season four had a disturbing ending. The especially challenging fear for us Boomers of how to deal with others who think we can no longer take care of ourselves.
Season five got that all sorted out sufficiently to keep Boomers engaged. Despite being messed over by their own kids, Grace and Frankie managed to keep the humor alive and the characters real.