I’ve been looking forward to the premiere of Grace and Frankie on Netflix as soon as I heard of its existence.
I am a huge fan of the comedy classic 9 to 5, so just the idea of getting to see Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda paired up in something new was exciting. Bring it! It took me a weekend, but I have watched every sweet, corny, clever, twisty, and cringe-y episode.
Frankie, played by Tomlin, and Grace, played by Fonda, portray an unexpected and clashing duo. The women have known each other for decades as their husbands have been partners in the same law firm.
Completely different in so many ways, the women do have one big thing in common: their husbands are in love with each other.
Both women are utterly shocked, crushed, and blindsided by the news. The only person they can truly turn to, the only person who knows exactly what they are going through, is each other.
Some of the reviews for the show haven’t been stellar, and I will say there were moments where I wished the director had asked for one more take with a scene. I wished the writing was more honest and more current. Melissa Maerz from Entertainment Weekly aptly points out, “At a time when dramatic comedies like Transparent and Beginners have opened viewers’ eyes to the complicated process of coming out later in life, Grace and Frankie plays like a ’90s sitcom, going for elbow-nudging jokes …”
However I enjoyed watching the series, even while wishing it was better written, as it’s a show that inspires conversation. If you haven’t seen the show, this is my nudge to you to carve out some time for yourself to watch it. If you have, consider telling some of these people in your life about it.
1. Your Dad … because it will sum up your relationship with him
Sam Waterston and Martin Sheen portray the newly out and soon-to-be ex-husbands of Frankie and Grace. Your dad might get a kick out of seeing these favorite actors in a way they’ve never seen before. There are so many touching and special moments between the dads and their kids.
One of the sweetest moments is when Brianna, tough-as-nails daughter of Sheen’s Robert, breaks down because she realizes her dad has not only saved one of her beloved childhood stuffed animals, but kept it in his home office. It’s rare to see functioning, honest, and heartfelt adult relationships between children and their dads in TV or movies.
Recommend this show to your dad because it captures how great your relationship is with him.
2. Your Mom … because it will make her laugh
This show features wildly different mothers: one is a cosmopolitan, perfectly coiffed Type-A and the other a free-flowing, yoga-chanting bra-burner. Neither are pointed to as the right or correct one. One of my favorite aspects of this show was how it allowed grown children to see some of the flaws of their mothers and the world didn’t end.
At one point during the series, Fonda’s Grace is having a hard time closing a business deal on the phone. Daughter, Brianna, who I have said is tough as nails, takes the call over and not only closes the deal, but gets her mom an even better deal. There’s this bittersweet moment where Brianna and Grace realize it might be time to pass the baton.
3. Your BFF … because it reminds you friendships can come from the most unlikely places
Grace and Frankie learn how to become each other’s friends in this series. It is awkward and weird, and it takes them a while to get the hang of it, but when they finally do there is a beautiful satisfaction (and a fantastic beach house!).
Their friendship style is a lot like the kind I have with my best friend. I’m not saying one of us is wearing broom skirts and the other has a broom up her … What I mean is a great friendship is when you have someone who has the idea you never would have considered. Frankie introduces Grace to the concept of “say yes” night. No matter what, every possibility, every question that crosses your path during the evening, you must say yes to it. You can tell it is the sort of amazing night Grace would never have had without this friendship.
4. Your Partner … because it shows you the true meaning of love
There is more than one love story in Grace and Frankie. Watching one couple learn how to navigate their coupledom is sweet, but there are other characters who are finally learning what love means and what it doesn’t mean. If anything, this show is a reminder that everyone is deserving of a love story. Robert and Sol waited 20 years to come out and claim theirs, and in doing so they forced their ex-wives to search for the meaning of love.
This isn’t a show that will get you hot and bothered, but it could inspire some candid conversations about yams.
5. Your Long Lost Friends … because it’s never too late to reconnect
When I watched this show there were moments that made me think about old friendships. You know, those friends you have known for ages but don’t catch up with as often as you should. A lot of characters navigate some rocky roads and it’s old friends who step up and help. It’s the friend Frankie hasn’t heard from in ages who helps her start working on her garden again. It’s old friends who help both women figure out how to combat some unexpected legal issues.
If you are looking for a way to reach out and say hello to someone you are out of touch with, this show could be a good starting place.
6. Your Siblings … because it shows the importance of family loyalty
Hands down the BEST parts of this show (for me) involved the children of Grace and Frankie. These kids have known each other their entire lives, have epic backstories, and are brilliantly performed by Brooklyn Decker, June Diane Raphael, Ethan Embry, and Baron Vaughn. Embry and Vaughn play the adopted sons of characters Sol and Frankie. Embry plays Coyote, who is just out of rehab, and living with his brother while he gets his life back on track.
The four adult children are all shocked about their fathers’ news and lean on each other. During a dinner with all of the children and their dads, they grapple with being OK with the new knowledge of the affair and engagement. Brianna quips, “Would you be cool with it if they’d been cheating with women for the last 20 years? There wouldn’t be cake, there’d be blood … or bullets.”
As the show unfolds, we learn more and more about how the kids connect with each other, but the absolute dedication and loyalty to each other was a lovely thing to watch.
7. Your Co-Workers … because you’ll totally relate to their ridiculous scenarios
The variety of types of co-workers in this show are vast. There are unyielding and stodgy types as well as, “Sure! I’ll go for that!” types. Over and over again we meet other members of Sol and Robert’s law firm. We see these coworkers at a funeral and later at a bachelor party. Every time we encounter one of their coworkers, they seem to be the same: brows furrowed, questioning “the lifestyle,” and cold.
Meanwhile at Brianna’s office, the company that Grace started, the office culture is a lawsuit waiting to happen. Team meetings include overshares and sexual innuendo. Across the board the question is raised about inter-office relationships and friendships.
Also addressed: what’s it like to have one of your parents be your boss?
Grace and Frankie isn’t a laugh-out-loud screwball comedy and it isn’t a serious think piece. It does its best to portray somewhat relatable characters going through extreme circumstances. There are hidden gems of scenes within the series, beautiful moments between parents and children, and between two women who learn to lean on each other.More On