With a second season in the works, it’s time to check out the hilarious Netflix sitcom “Grace and Frankie.” If you haven’t yet entered the absurd world of this hit show, here’s everything you need to know to make the most of your visit.
“Grace and Frankie” is a traditional sitcom about a decidedly nontraditional bunch of septuagenarians. The show centers on two women who recently learned that their husbands have been having an affair for the last 20 years. The coming out party turns into an exploration of love, marriage, and family that strongly resonates in an era where the idea of what “family” means is constantly changing.
What to Expect
There are plenty of silly sitcom tropes and snappy one-liners, but the overall construct of “Grace and Frankie” supersedes the trite to reach sublime heights of hilarity and insight. Helmed by veterans Lily Tomlin (Frankie) and Jane Fonda (Grace), along with their hapless, recently out-of-the-closet husbands played by Sam Waterston and Martin Sheen, this show is redolent with hidden layers.
It would be easy to let this premise devolve into a self-satisfied half-hour full of congratulatory kisses between Waterston and Sheen. But rather than taking the easy road, the show explores more than marriage equality. As the husbands prepare to ride off into their sunset years together, their wives and children are left picking up the pieces of their shattered worldview.
The subject of betrayal is front and center, with the kids and their moms reeling from the long-term affair that has wrecked two supposedly happy families. Everyone is hesitant to express their anger for fear it will be perceived as homophobic, but eventually they address the elephant in the room — if the fellas had left for other women the vengeance would be quick and swift, so (in the spirit of equal rights) why should this be any different?
“Grace and Frankie” bounces back and forth between the wives’ experiences and the husbands’, offering a well-rounded picture that takes time to explore real, complicated emotions — as well as have fun. There is a great juxtaposition of style and substance between Grace’s picture-perfect, OCD nature and Frankie’s artistic, meditation- and marijuana-fueled energy. The evolution of their friendship is ragged and frayed, but the tatters make the final product that much stronger.
Between the entertaining performances and the unpredictable season finale, you’ll be delighted you took the time to share a few hours with these hot-headed, worldly wise gals.
Where to Find It
The entire first season is available for streaming on Netflix.
How Long Will It Take?
With 13 episodes that run about 30 minutes each, you could catch the whole thing during one “mental health” day or two weekend afternoons.
Why You Have to Watch It
This show is a rare delight that offers a bunch of laughs along with a lot of food for thought. The somewhat ridiculous premise gives the actors and writers a lot of room to explore the full spectrum of emotions presented by the story.
Whether or not you’ve ever been married, you’ll find plenty of reasons to relate to the struggles of these women who expected to be sharing retirement with their lifelong companions but are instead starting over. Lily Tomlin is a gift — her comedic timing is impeccable, whether delivered via biting comment or withering look. And Jane Fonda, who I often find so easy to dislike, is truly sympathetic and a gifted comedian.
Not every joke lands well, and the chemistry between Sheen and Waterston can be hard to swallow at times, but the overall product is smart, solid, and thoroughly engaging. The supporting cast that plays their grown-up kids (Brooklyn Decker, Ethan Embry, June Diane Raphael, and Baron Vaughn) adds a lot of sparkle and polish, and the youngsters have no trouble keeping up with the seasoned veterans.
If you like laughing through tears, this is the sweet, silly show that you’ve been looking for.
What Happens Next?
Season two is slated to premiere on Netflix in 2016, so you still have a little bit of time to get in on this funny, charming show that shows true love — and self-discovery — literally have no age limit.
Photo by: Melissa Moseley/Netflix