I’m starting to think I need to stop proclaiming how much I’m not a fan of comedy shows, because yet again I have found an exception to my rule. On a recommendation from my sister I finally got around to watching Netflix’s Grace and Frankie this last weekend and I fell in love.
Grace and Frankie tells the story of two women (Jane Fonda as Grace and Lily Tomlin as Frankie) whose husbands, long-term friends and law partners, decide to end their marriages of forty years so that they can get married to each other. Grace’s Robert (Martin Sheen) and Frankie’s Sol (Sam Waterston) have to then navigate what it means for them to have a public relationship, and what their coming out has done to their families. It’s comedy with a serious side, as straight-laced retired businesswoman Grace takes up residence with hippy-artist Frankie in the beach house shared by the two families. Rounding out the cast are the adult children of the two couples: brothers Coyote (Ethan Embry) and Nwabudike (Baron Vaughn) and sisters Brianna (June Diane Raphael) and Mallory (Brooklyn Decker).
The story starts with the premise of these two very different women trying to adjust to divorced life. Grace has to cancel social engagements that would require her to interact with her husband. Frankie tries meditating, and while going on a peyote-fueled vision quest is unexpectedly joined by Grace (who takes a swig of peyote tea without realizing what it is), thus beginning their bonding in misery. They continue to clash, of course, but the show doesn’t limit itself to the stereotyped dynamic between the hippie and the businesswoman. There are greater complexities – the relationships (past and current) between the soon-to-be step-siblings, Robert and Sol moving in together and learning what it’s like to be a couple out of hiding, and both married couples learning what it’s like to now be exes.
Like any show with short episodes (or just any show really), Grace and Frankie takes a couple episodes to hit its stride, but the advantage of the Netflix format is that you’re less likely to notice when one episode is a little weaker – you’re already halfway through the next. Some characters take longer than others to move past their initial caricatures and become complex characters, but again, that’s true of most shows. Grace and Frankie manages to cover everything from aging to addiction to adultery (and some themes that don’t start with the letter ‘A’ too). There were multiple moments that made me laugh out loud. With just 13 short episodes, Grace and Frankie makes for an easy weekend binge watch. If you’re looking for something nice and quick to watch before the fall TV season kicks off, Grace and Frankie might make an excellent choice.