REVIEW: ‘Grace and Frankie’

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So at the beginning of this week, I started watching the Netflix series Grace and Frankie starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin.  I’ve been looking for a new show to watch (I need to stop re-watching Friends) and, as a fan of Jane Fonda, I decided to give this one a go.  I just finished up season one and, currently, I’m watching the second episode of the second season.  So, let’s get to it.

So the first season establishes the main players and storyline.  Grace (Fonda) and Frankie  (Tomlin) are married to Robert (Martin Sheen) and Sol (Sam Waterston), respectively, who have been having an affair with each other for 20 years and finally decide to tell their wives about.  Both couples divorce in order for Robert and Sol to get married.  Grace and Frankie then find themselves living in the beach house that both couples purchased during their marriages.  The relationship between Grace and Frankie is cool at best, with each tolerating the other’s presence, especially Grace towards Frankie.  Over the course of the season, Grace and Frankie develop a slow friendship while their ex-husbands learn to be an out couple.  Their children, after being upset with their fathers, come to accept their new, intermingled family.

What can I say?  I’m a sucker for that old trope where a free-spirited character and a put together character are forced to interact.  The chemistry between Fonda and Tomlin is fantastic; the two complement each other and I’ve become so invested in this friendship.  What’s cool about their relationship is that they didn’t start off as lifelong friends despite knowing each other for over two decades and raising their families side-by-side.  They barely tolerated each other for the sake of their husbands.  They didn’t immediately get along and their friendship is still riddled with snarky comments toward each other despite their growing affections.  While I do love friendships that are already established as strong and loving, it was refreshing to see two older women slowly come together as friends because of an event that no one else can relate to.  For better or worse, Grace and Frankie are stuck with each other and, lucky for us, zany mischief ensues.

I also found it interesting how the relationship between Robert and Sol effectively parallels that of Grace and Frankie.  The spelling bee episode was especially telling with Frankie and Sol treating the contest as if they were watching a sports game and Grace and Robert finding the entire thing boring.  Robert and Sol are pretty much the essential opposites attract couple (another trope I’m a sucker for) and I must admit I have grown so fond of the two, especially Sol.  Sam Waterston portrays Sol with so much genuine emotion and love that it’s pretty hard not to fall in love with him too — or at least deeply like him.  Waterston’s delivery of Sol when he becomes flustered and his voice becomes so high-pitched that only dogs can hear him always leaves me in stitches.  As someone who is pretty mellow 90% of the time like Sol, those moments where I do get freaked out are quite similar to Sol’s reactions.

I’m enjoying the relationship between the Hanson and Bergstein kids; Mallory and Brianna (Grace and Robert’s daughters) and Coyote and Bud (Frankie and Sol’s sons, both adopted).  The kids grew up together and are like siblings to each other, which makes their new family a little easier to adapt to.  I love, love, love the fact that Bud and Coyote are both adopted and their bond with Frankie and Sol is so pure.  And I thought I’d dislike Mallory and Brianna but, surprisingly, I think they’re pretty awesome characters.  Brianna is a snarky, sarcastic businesswoman (inheriting her mother’s business) who actually has a good heart when it comes to her sister, parents, and her new step-brothers.  I feel like Mallory isn’t as deeply developed yet as the other three kids — other than the fact that she has four kids and is a stay-at-home mother there is nothing more revealed about her.  I hope as the series goes on we find out more about her; there seems to be more to her than meets the eye.  She is Grace and Robert’s daughter after all.

It covers a lot of topics and issues that older women can go through.  It’s hard to date guys at my age so I can only imagine how difficult it must be for women in their sixties and seventies to date, especially after getting divorced.  In a way, it kind of reminds me of The Golden Girls (gosh, my inner geek is really showing), but with only two women instead of four, and in the 2010s instead of the 1980s… and with more weed than cheesecake.

Overall, I am so digging this show.  As I type this post, I am currently watching episode six of season two and I’m still invested in these characters and their story.  If I remember, I may write a follow-up post once I’m finished with the series (until season four comes out next year).

Until then!

— e.m.

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