Fonda and Tomlin together again

I just finished watching the series Grace and Frankie on Netflix and I just have to rave about it.

It’s so great to finally see a show with main characters that are older than we are. Why does it always have to be beautiful 30-somethings? Come on, it’s been 24 years since the Golden Girls.

I was hooked right from the theme song “stuck in the middle with you”. A favourite of mine and so appropriate for the show.

A brief synopsis:

Two women – Grace and Frankie – in their seventies find out that their husbands have been having an affair for the last 25 years . . . with each other!

Grace and Frankie have been friends by association because their husbands are partners in a law firm. They also spent a lot of time together outside the office as a foursome but were completely unaware that it was because their husbands wanted to be together.

The women don’t even really like each other and didn’t think they had anything in common but now these polar opposites are sharing an experience that no one else they know can understand. So they unwillingly lean on each other.

I was told the show was a comedy but not very much of it is funny. Not funny but you seem to laugh anyway. I’m not sure why.

The characters Grace and Frankie are played by Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin and bringing together these two acting icons was sheer brilliance. We haven’t seen them together since 1980 in the fun movie “9 to 5”. I was half expecting Dolly Parton to walk onto the set but articles I’ve read say that this is not in the cards.

Jane Fonda plays “Grace” and she is as uptight and proper as they come. She spent her whole life doing everything that she was supposed to do; in the order she was supposed to do it. She followed all of the rules and now all of the rules have been thrown out the window.

Lily Tomlin’s character, Frankie, is a hippy type and much more relaxed and open to the direction of the universe. Sometimes, however, there just isn’t enough pot to make this situation make sense.

Jane is 79 years old and still rocking the Jane Fonda Workout Video body. She is fit and trim and looks fantastic. I had quite a few of her videos in the eighties but clearly didn’t use them enough. (I’ll bet I can get them on DVD on Amazon!)

Lily is in the long flowy, hippie type dresses all the time – I would be too if I had to be next to Jane all day – but she still looks great.  And she can get out of a cross legged sitting position all by herself. I would be so lucky to be able to even get into a cross legged sitting position at 77, much less get out of one.

The characters’ husbands are played by Sam Waterston and Martin Sheen. I know they are both well-seasoned actors and I like their previous work but, honestly, the men didn’t impress me as much as the women.

Martin Sheen just didn’t look comfortable in his role and I found that both were inconsistent. They would be in the middle of a scene and one of them would suddenly throw out a lilt in their voice or a flamboyant gesture of some kind. It looked like they just remembered that they were supposed to be gay. The director needs to be reminded that not every gay man is a cliché.

It doesn’t matter though because it was the girls I wanted to see.

Rounding out the ensemble cast are the characters’ adult children and they are fantastic. They are trying to come to terms with the situation of their parents themselves while also trying to be supportive.

There are four of them and, again, four different reactions and coping styles are explored.

The show is a Netflix original and, so far, there are only 2 seasons – 13 episodes each – and I binged watched it in 2 weekends. The journey these two women take in these 26 episodes is epic to watch. There are ups and downs, times of strength and weakness, anger and laughter. It felt real. It wasn’t dramatized to death. And by having the two characters be so vastly different, it showed very different ways of coping.

I personally suspect that this type of scenario plays out a lot more than we think (on both sides of the gender) and not everyone is so lucky to go through it with someone who really understands.

As with any great show, I got to the end of Season 2 and want to know where this journey goes next. The good news is that they have already finished shooting season 3. The bad news is that it won’t be out until May. I can’t wait! Check it out if you can.

HEY! There are so many shows out now on all of the different cable providers, it’s hard to keep up. If you’ve found a great show – old or new – please share in the comments below. Maybe you could even send a review and I can share it.

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