Review: Grace & Frankie

Eric Sentell
Elderly man wearing hat at sunriseMatteo Vistocco on Unsplash

Netflix's Grace & Frankie, starting Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Martin Sheen, and Sam Waterston, will make you laugh out loud and tear up. You'll care about each of the characters before the first half-hour episode ends, a relationship that will only deepen and grow. Now wrapping up its seventh season, Grace & Frankie is the perfect heart-felt comedy to binge-watch.

The show follows the couples, Grace and Frankie (Fonda and Tomlin) and Robert (Sheen) and Sol (Sam Waters), in their late 60s and early 70s as they navigate divorce, remarriage, and friendship.

You might think that Robert divorces Grace and remarries Frankie, or Frankie divorces Sol and remarries Robert. But Grace & Frankie puts a novel twist on a comedy about life turbulence.

Robert and Sol leave their wives for each other, determined to spend their remaining years together as husband and husband. It turns out they had been in an affair for twenty years.

Hurt and confused, Grace and Frankie leave the homes they've kept for forty years. They retreat to the beach house shared by both couples. Neither can stand the other, but they have little choice but to tolerate each other at the beach house while getting their bearings.

Grace and Frankie are the proverbial odd couple. Grace is a refined, sophisticated, successful businesswoman and a perfectionist who lives by the book. Frankie is a hippie artist and environmentalist attracted to the unconventional. Imagine if Nancy Reagan and Frida Kahlo became roommates.

Of course, the two women become the best of friends while navigating their new lives. They can't untangle their lives and hearts from their ex-husbands, and they continue close relationships with them. Viewers get plenty of laughs at everyone's expense, followed by tingles when everyone displays sincere forgiveness, acceptance, and love.

As the show and its characters age, it explores the challenges and transitions of aging and trying to make age a mere number. Grace and Frankie begin multiple businesses, date new men, mentor their children, and live to the fullest. Robert enjoys a second act in community theatre with Sol's enthusiastic support and sometimes unintentional sabotage.

Through it all, their children deal with the radical changes to the family dynamics and their own careers, relationships, and personality foibles. Brianna is self-involved and abrasive. Mallory is sweet but dissatisfied. Coyote (Frankie's son, of course) is a recovering addict trying to get his life together, and Bud is anal-retentive and awkward.

The show is a graceful, frank exploration of aging people determined to make the most of their remaining time.

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