Sometimes you just need a laugh. And if that laugh can be sustained over a few hours, all the better. When the world goes askew and the media is full of the bad stuff happening, when things are not working as smoothly as they used to, when way too much time is spent on wondering what if, then laughter is just about the best tonic there is. Yes, it might be a temporary relief, it might be treating the symptoms and not the disease, it might be covering or colouring the root cause of the malaise, but for those few hours, life suspends.
Trolling through the NetFlix offer a few weeks back, I happened across a show called Grace and Frankie. Back in 2015 Grace (Jane Fonda) used to be married Robert (Martin Sheen). Frankie (Lily Tomlin) used to be married to Sol (the gorgeous Sam Waterston). Now, after 40 years of being married, the two boys come out and get married themselves. All are in their seventies on the show and in their late seventies and eighties in real life. Each of the last four series has had 13 episodes. That’s some amount of work, lads. Some amount of work. It’s not the first time that Fonda and Tomlin have worked together – remember 9 to 5 with Dolly Parton?
The brainchild of Martha Kaufman, co-creator of Friends, Grace and Frankie addresses all sorts of social issues in a funny (often hilarious) and empathetic way. From ageism to adoption, From drug addiction, to dementia. From gay rights to gun rights. It focuses, too, on the septuagenarian world and what it feels like to be invisible. Each episode brings wit and wisdom to play and gives an insight into life and how we deal with it. Supposedly shot in La Jolla, San Diego (if you’re to believe the cast), it’s actually shot in Malibu, but that’s neither here nor there.
A stellar list of guest appearances includes four-time Oscar nominee Marsha Mason, Craig T. Nelson (of Coach fame), the delectable Sam Elliott, Peter Gallaghar, and Friend, Lisa Kudrow. The theme song is Stuck in the Middle with you but the closing tune changes every week and were all 52 put together, they’d make a fab playlist for a old rockers party.
What I like most about the show though, and I like it all, is that these seventy-somethings are sassy and in-your-face. And though their friends might be dying off around them, they’ve rallied and are taking on the world. It’s not glamorised – the aches and pains are peppered with senior moments. But it is brutally honest in confronting how we expect our elderly to be. It has a thing or three to teach us.
It’s been an iffy week. But Grace and Frankie have helped immeasurably. Thanks ladies. I’m grateful to you.