For as long as they can recall, Grace (Jane Fonda) and Frankie (Lily Tomlin) have been at odds with each other. But their relationship suddenly changes when they learn that their husbands, Bob (Martin Sheen) and Sol (Sam Waterston), have fallen in love and asked for divorces - so they can marry one another!
I turned it off at the yam lube! Honestly, people pay money to watch this? They buy the DVD? Or watch on Netflex? I borrowed it for free from my library and still felt gypped. I love Jane and I love Lily and this crap is soooo beneath them. People in flyover country do NOT have these kinds of conversations in their everyday life. Hollywood only thinks we do because that's the way they talk to each other in LA and NYC. Both women looked great, though, that's what the two stars are for.
I really hate to write a really negative review which involves four of my favorite actors and people. I'm a gay man in his sixties. Both my partner and I cringe at the behavior between Sol and Robert. They behave like teenage girls dealing with their first boyfriend. They are supposedly long time closeted lovers, yet behave in the most emotionally retarded way, especially Sol. He's an absolute air-head. Is this suppose to represent what we gays fought so long and hard for. No! Perhaps its just not our cup of tea or idea of entertainment. I was so looking forward to this because of the actors involved.
Jane and Lily are more interesting as a couple (I would much prefer their relationship to their ex-husbands). However, all they talk about is their drama, and Jane's need to show off her very beautiful body and face at age 70. She does look great, but all she can think about is a new boyfriend and getting f%$k#d. This bodily need and four letter words seem to be the ceiling of their years of experience and maturity. They seem like stereotypes (as do their ex-husbands) with too much time and money. Is this what we as Americans work a lifetime toward, just being a soap opera character filled with endless drama and no substance or interesting conversation or purpose. Lost in our hormones and drama and lack of direction.
By chance I watched "Woman in Gold," (BBC) right after "Grace and Frankie." In comparison, it pointed out how mature and dignified a woman (Helen Mirren) in her 70's could be, even while being but a seemingly average human being. By this standard Jane and Lily were flakes and represented woman, for me, in a rather pathetic and silly way (same with Sol and Robert). This is why Europeans laugh at us. Let's behave with some sophistication and class, not like silly stereotypes just out for a laugh at the expense of all that we are.
Let's engage people not simply entertain. Let's represent our species as something to strive for, not just two-dimensional characters going through the motions of living life and getting a laugh along the way. This show had great potential, but got lost along the way (or from the start). I like good acting, drama and entertainment, but not when people make themselves a joke for the sake of a laugh, especially when we're in our seventies. I've been with my partner for almost thirty years and have never found our relationship to be such a waste of one's deepest emotions and potential. The two great aspects of getting older are: great conversation and company. I don't find it here. Grace and Frankie, ditch the two ex-husbands and evolve into an interesting couple (friends, series) and give us something valuable to take away. Jane and Lily have what it takes, get new writers and a new director and move it into a new direction, a worthwhile production worth your time and our time!
Grace is a polished, sophisticated WASP who formerly ran a cosmetics company. Frankie is a socially-conscious hippie who teaches ex-cons to paint. These two women have absolutely nothing in common...
... until their husbands declare that they are leaving their wives in order to marry each other. Yes indeed, "Grace and Frankie Season 1" is the old tale of faithful wives dumped for someone else.... but in this case, it's further complicated by a bisexual twist. And while this clever little comedy has a few bumps in the road, it also has a staggeringly talented cast and a mixture of irreverent wit ("Have you ever wondered if Ben and Jerry make more than ice cream together?") and bittersweet family drama.
During a group lunch, Grace (Jane Fonda) and Frankie (Lily Tomlin) are flabbergasted when their husbands Robert (Martin Sheen) and Sol (Sam Waterston) reveal that they are divorcing their wives. Apparently the men have been having a clandestine affair for the past twenty years, and now they want to get married. Needless to say, both the women are devastated, and their kids (who take after their parents in various ways, and have their own array of issues) are shocked.
Grace moves into the former couples' jointly-owned beachside house in order to get away from the world and her soon-to-be-ex-husband, only to find that Frankie is also crashing there. While the women initially get on like matches and dynamite, their shared loss and grief (plus a nightlong peyote trip on the beach) prompts them to try being roommates at the beach house. But not only do they have to deal with their grief and anger, but the daunting task of reinventing their whole lives as septuagenarians -- learning how to date in the 21st century, trying to get jobs, and occasionally dancing on bars.
Meanwhile, Robert and Sol are trying to get used to THEIR new life as an open same-sex couple, which is somewhat complicated by Sol's continuing closeness to Frankie, and their struggles to plan their forthcoming wedding. And their kids aren't quite sure how to handle this situation -- after all, if their fathers had been cheating with women, there would be ("no cake!") no celebrations of their relationship.
In some ways, "Grace and Frankie" hits on a lot of familiar notes for a comedy -- the woes of dating, life after divorce, odd-couple conflicts, family strife, etc. But it takes a different tack from the usual. The women in question are in their seventies, have been married for four decades (and expected to be so until they died), and they're only divorced because their husbands turned out to be having an affair. Yep, this is a bit different from the usual dreck churned out by the networks.
... and yet not only does "Grace and Frankie" handle these very touchy, tough subjects, but it manages to be both funny and poignant without losing its grip on either emotion. It knows how to make you root for these characters even as you giggle at Frankie's inability to turn her new Mac on.
A lot of the credit for this goes to the cast -- Fonda, Sheen, Tomlin and Waterston are all phenomenal actors who bring a lot of charm, energy and complexity to their characters. Though all of them seem like fairly stock characters (uptight yuppie, aging hippie, closeted prissy lawyer), they all struggle with every step they make and every new experience. Perhaps the biggest problem is... well, Sheen and Waterston don't have an ounce of sexual chemistry, but Tomlin's pleasantly flaky hippie and Fonda's beautiful yet brittle matriarch make up for that.
But don't let that description keep them from sounding absolutely hilarious -- all of them have unique comic timing, from the dry (Sheen) to the adorably frenetic ("My joints are SUPPLE!"), and it's always fun to see the two ladies romping around through the town in each other's clothes, stealing cigarettes and going to bars. Even some of the subplots are gutsplittijngly funny (Brianna adopting a dog and trying to peddle organic lube), although a few (Coyote trying to find his birth mother) don't really seem to go anywhere.
But the funniest aspect is the writing, which tends to be snappy and clever ("Anyone who can do this is a powerful witch." "Well, I can do it." "I rest my case"). There's a lot of wacky situations (the most awkward sex scene outside of "Twilight") and embarrassment, but the series never quite descends into slapstickiness... except for the scene with the pink rodeo penis. That was kind of silly.
One thing that was a bit perplexing was the bisexual erasure. While Robert is hinted to be wholly gay and has few regrets, Sol is pretty clearly indicated to be bisexual.... and yet everyone refers to the two men as homosexual, including themselves. Perhaps it's an age thing (since bisexuality is less acknowledged in the older generations), but it's a bit perplexing.
"Grace and Frankie Season 1" is not only a delightfully funny series ("Does he smell like a cat?"), but a poignant tale of older women having to reinvent their lives when things don't turn out as they expected. Fun, weird and a little sad.