Finally I’ve found a movie/TV show I can enjoy – Grace and Frankie, the new one on Netflix.
Without explosions, car chases, murders, nudity or overt sex, the storyline meanders along typical everyday events in two families connected by the fathers, partners in a law firm.
Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, the two main characters, feisty and funny as they were in movies such as Monster-in-Law and Nine to Five, are perfect playing wives in 40-year-long mundane marriages to husbands who have worked together for years who now fess up to being gay, and divorce their wives to marry each other.
Because it’s on Netflix, I can watch one episode after another, which is what I did last evening. I watched the first five episodes like a kid with a favourite Walt Disney movie, until way past my bedtime. And today, for the first time ever, I watched two more episodes after lunch rather than tuning in for the latest news or discussions of the day’s political events.
I can relate to these 70-year-old women as Tomlin struggles to cope with her first iPad and attempts to Instagram or tweet to feel she’s participating as she watches an annual spelling bee, perhaps the renowned Scripps-Howard spelling bee. I’m not sure about that point.
Each couple has two adult children. Both of Tomlin’s sons were adopted. The redhead, Coyote, who gets around on a bicycle, has one more year to serve for a driving prohibition although I’m not sure if his crime was driving while drunk or while drugged. He avoids alcohol but keeps himself well supplied with marijuana and coke.
The black brother, Bud, is a thoughtful, likeable young man who allows the redhead to live with him rent-free.
Fonda has a daughter, Brianna, who took over management of Fonda’s cosmetic/clothing store when Fonda retired recently. She is snippy with a “mouth like a sewer”. Still she wields her shortcomings to profitable effect when a supply company falls short on an order.
One early scene that delighted me was the four grown children arriving for a family dinner. One father held out a box and required each one to relinquish their cell phone. Later that scene was balanced by the married daughter stirring cake batter on her island counter with her cell phone sitting beside the mixing bowl. If I owned a cell phone I’d not let it hold me hostage like a probationary convict wearing an ankle bracelet.
The early episodes work through the husbands notifying their wives they’re divorcing them, telling their kids of the impending breakups. They progress to sorting out disposition of their houses, facing friends as separated spouses, arranging for the men’s wedding, sending out invitations, tasting foods for the wedding reception and writing marriage vows.
Fonda is the first to sample dating after four decades of marriage, beginning with an on-line disaster and rapidly discarding a series of misfits like a teen choosing an outfit for the day until she clicks with a man who ate a fellow-adventurer to stay alive.
Fonda is primarily the straight woman while Tomlin utters one funny quip after the next with her typical forthrightness and straight face.
Dressed in hippy flounces and engaging in peyote ceremonies she nonetheless possesses wisdom on many subjects though she panics at a 4.3 earthquake. (This takes place in San Diego, the site of past spectacular earthquakes.) She teaches art in her home to three rehabilitated ex-cons.
Sadly the series ended with Episode 12. Now I must wait until the second series begins perhaps in the fall?
Till then I can at least re-watch the best episodes of Season One any time on Netflix.