Getting old is not for sissies, and that’s a fact. When you’re in your 20s and 30s and think you’re over the hill, oh honey – just wait. With each passing decade, your body will further betray you in direct proportion to your age. Things will ache. Things will fail. You will injure yourself – while you are sleeping. Nothing is safe, and nothing is sacred.
This is not a joke, on any level. It can be made funny, though. Case in point: Netflix’s Grace & Frankie.
In the previous five seasons we’ve watched our four main cast members – Grace (Jane Fonda), Frankie (Lily Tomlin), Robert (Martin Sheen) and Sol (Sam Waterston) – deal gracefully, and disgracefully, with ageing. That Fonda and Tomlin clearly avail themselves of the best plastic surgeons and makeup artists Hollywood can buy is beside the point. Cosmetics and silicone can only take you so far.
Playing their ages (Fonda is 82, can you even?) realistically brings home the truths about knee replacements, restricted mobility, health scares, and of course, the attendant insecurities and embarrassments, as well as judgements from the youngsters.
The writing remains as youthful and vibrant as ever, even when dealing with sensitive topics.
Picking up where Season 5 left off, Grace announces her marriage to Nick (Peter Gallagher), who is several years younger than she is. First of all, Frankie has a lot to process in this respect as it means Grace is moving out of the beach house and into her new husband’s home.
Secondly, Grace is having some difficulties getting off the toilet – to put it bluntly. This is a topic that drives most of the penultimate sixth season. Yes, fans – there’s one more season to come. And after watching Season 6, I’m going out on a limb and predicting that someone will die in the final season. Don’t hold me to it, but it’s the inevitable result of advanced years, after all, and this one has had a good run, setting a record for Netflix.
It’s also never disappointed. The writing remains as youthful and vibrant as ever, even when dealing with sensitive topics. Marta Kauffman is a co-creator and writer, and if you’re a TV trivia whizz you’ll be aware she was also behind Friends, so the woman knows what she’s doing, and has managed to stay relevant.
There are a few factors at play here. The undeniable chemistry between Tomlin and Fonda is one, with Sheen and Waterston ably supporting. The safe and solid ground is another. If it ain’t broke, why mess with it? That said, the arc that includes a real reality show in Season 6 feels a bit laboured and awkward.
You’re going to see the same flaky Frankie wafting around stoned, the same uptight (although she’s mellowed over the years and her fondness for, and understanding of, Frankie is quite lovely) and impeccably groomed Grace.
Robert and Sol’s marriage is tested with some money issues and doctors’ appointments, and their respective children – Bud (Baron Vaughn), Coyote (Ethan Embry), Brianna (June Diane Raphael) and Mallory (Brooklyn Decker) – all play their parts perfectly, from Brianna’s reliable bitchiness to Bud’s skittishness when he finds out who his brother is dating.
Nominated for multiple awards, Grace & Frankie has won a mantelpiece full of statues, and it will win your heart too.