Like so many of us these days, I've been watching TV like it's a second job. Parks and Recreation, Dexter, Friends, Workin' Moms, Black-ish, The Leftovers—they're are all just a fraction of what's on the agenda. But if there's one show that has really—albeit unexpectedly—helped put things in perspective for me during all of this, it's Grace & Frankie.
I didn't discover Grace & Frankie during quarantine—it's been one of my favorite shows since it premiered in 2015. For six seasons I've tuned in to see what fresh, hilarious adventures are in store for its septuagenarian heroines, portrayed respectively by Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin.
If you're new to the Netflix show, the veteran actresses play the former wives of law firm partners Robert (Martin Sheen) and Sol (Sam Waterston), who decide to come out as lovers decades into their respective marriages. By the end of the pilot, Grace and Frankie find themselves single for the first time in about 40 years. The women have never really liked each other—to put it simply, Grace is a WASP, Frankie a hippie—but both lay claim to a La Jolla beach house the couples had bought together and are basically left with no choice but to make nice (a peyote trip helps speed along the process).
As the show's title makes apparent enough, Grace and Frankie become more than just reluctant roomies. They become best friends. And, they forgive their ex-husbands and figure out how to move on with their lives. They learn how to be independent and self-sufficient at seventy-something. They fight ageism, from their children and from society. They date. They start a business. They adapt.
What I've always loved about Grace & Frankie is the way it puts the right amount of comedic spin on the travails of life (especially those that come with being of a certain age) without trivializing those issues. It's what makes the show so perfect for now. I want feel-good TV and an escape from reality as much as I also want (and often need) a gentle nudge to remember what matters. Family and true friendship. And that at the end of the day, this too shall pass.
I get that the show is a lovable sitcom and not the most accurate portrayal of how people would weather life's storms. But I see the moral of the story as this: people have the capacity to be extraordinarily resilient. And if Grace and Frankie have figured out how to turn life's lemons into lemonade, I'd like to think that we can, too.
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