They’ve given us a hipster prison show and an addictive political thriller, what’s the next dish Netflix is planning to serve? If you guessed a brilliant female-centric comedy starring actresses with decades-old chemistry, you get a gold star. Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin and Netflix — that sounds like a perfect recipe, right? But everything is sweeter with a cherry on top, and in this case the cherry is none other than Marta Kauffman, the co-creator of Friends.
In this new show, Grace and Frankie, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin play women who are long-time nemeses. The show begins when they discover that their husbands have fallen in love with each other and have begun planning their wedding. Netflix has approved 13 episodes of the half-hour comedy and it will air next year.
Ted Sarandos, who is the Chief Content Officer for Netflix says: “Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin are among the funniest and most formidable actresses ever and it’s an incredible privilege to give them the opportunity to run riot on Netflix. The show created for them by Marta and [co-writer] Howard is warm, very funny and anything but wholesome. We can’t wait.”
Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin are 76 and 74, respectively.
Lest you think they are simply following in the footsteps of Blanche, Rose and Dorothy, I’ll remind you that at the start of filming for the first season of The Golden Girls the age of the cast was as follows:
- Betty White: 63
- Bea Arthur: 63
- Estelle Getty: 62
- Rue McLanahan: 51
The average age of a staff writer on The Golden Girls was mid-thirties.
Grace and Frankie is bold as it not only features two women, but it features two OLD women. In Hollywood this is a miracle. I can not imagine a network taking a chance like this. Even if a network did try on a show with older actresses, would people tune in to watch? Netflix has groomed their subscribers to not only watch their original programing, but binge on it with marathon-viewing gulps. Many sitcoms never charm an audience past the first or second episode because of changes in TV schedules or writers still working on finding the flow. By providing 13 episodes of a sitcom at once, Netflix is counting on us to see Grace and Frankie through.
Just after the Oscars® Amanda Hess wrote a brutally honest piece for Slate titled: “It’s Horrible to Be an Old Woman in Hollywood, Kim Novak Edition.” In it she dissects the challenge women in Hollywood face when it comes to aging. We expect our movie stars to age just right, “naturally,” or at least without any obvious indications to the contrary. Stars like 81-year-old Kim Novak are quickly and harshly judged with a “how DARE she?!” attitude, while other celebs are celebrated for being graceful with their aging. Whatever that means.
Jane Fonda recently wrote a beautiful essay on her blog (I KNOW, RIGHT?! Jane blogs!!) about aging and even though we are aging at different starting points, her revelations about the gifts of aging were especially meaningful to me as I grapple with the odd age of 38. Jane says:
“I find my emotions are way more accessible than they were when I was younger and I’ve come to feel it has to do with age. I have become so wonderfully, terribly aware of time, of how little of it I have left; how much of it is behind me, and everything becomes so precious. With age, I am able to appreciate the beauty in small things more than when I was younger perhaps because I pay attention more.”
Lily Tomlin also has a lot to say about age and youth and shares, “When you’re young, you want to make a difference in the world and you think the difference you’re making is monumental, but in the overall scheme you come to realize that it’s not.” In other words: it’s not always about monumental stuff.
Seeing these actresses reunite to tackle comedy together makes me ridiculously happy. I know I am not the only one who is crossing fingers for a Dolly cameo.
Image Credit: PCN
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