Program: Grace and Frankie
Starring: Jane Fonda, Lilly Tomlin, Martin Sheen, Sam Waterston
Synopsis: Two older women move in together and eventually start a business after their husbands both come out as gay and leave them for each other.
My Take: Grace and Frankie sticks to a simple but effective sitcom formula: it’s very funny and has emotional and warm moments that make you care about the characters. It took a while to get going, but now has definitely evolved into more than just a vehicle for Fonda and Tomlin’s humour and chemistry. The way in which the show talks frankly about older women’s sexuality is also fairly unique and gives it an original, refreshing voice.
The show’s now on its third season, which I was pleasantly surprised at; the first season was a lot of laughs but it wasn’t clear where it could go next, and the second season was largely just more of the same. This season, however, a new plot has emerged that takes it to a new place.
After spraining her wrist using a vibrator, Grace (Fonda) is inspired to start a business with Frankie (Tomlin) making easy-to-use vibrators for older women. Through this new main plot, Grace and Frankie continues to explore issues around aging. However, it’s also more focused on how the two women rely on and support each other, and a lot of the warmth and humour is built off that.
Meanwhile, the relationship between Robert (Sheen) and Sol (Waterston) is also explored in more depth, and there are a lot of very sad moments. Complex issues affecting them as an older gay couple are explored with real depth and emotion. I found myself nearly in tears at some points.
Another positive of this season is that the secondary characters of Grace and Frankie’s adult children have all been much more fleshed out. It was nice to see, since it’s really taken until now for the roles to be developed further than a set of two-dimensional stock characters (the man-eater, the stressed-out mother, the messed up one and the normal one).
On the downside, the show seems to be running out of steam a little, and this season relies on Grace and Frankie having a big argument every other episode to shake things up. I rolled my eyes when in one episode Grace said “we had a fight — nothing special, just our usual odd couple shenanigans.” But those shenanigans are getting a little old — no pun intended.
Worth the Netflix: Absolutely. It may be a bit same-y and take a while to start really working, but Fonda and Tomlin are great.
Worth the Chill: Probably not. Unless watching elderly people discuss vibrators in depth really does it for you.