SNL skit “GoT Tribute” ostensibly pays homage to the popular Game of Thrones series but veers into a tribute to the more lowkey Grace and Frankie. There’s good reason, too, that Paul Rudd, DJ Khaled, and Pete Davidson all rap in proper fanboy manners.
“Watch that show on the Reggy,” Davidson raps followed shortly after with DJ Khaled admitting that it’s “better than Game of Thrones”.
In short, Grace and Frankie is a MUST-WATCH show. The titular elderly women find themselves as 80-something divorcees after their husbands come out as homosexual for each other. Over its 7 seasons, the show explores the implications of this reckoning on Grace and Frankie as they grapple with the new life they’re left with as well as both their families and friends.
If these hook sentences aren’t enough to catch your attention, I promise you that the rest of this article will. Think of it as an investment: 5 minutes of your time reading for over 100 hours worth of content. But if not, your dildo is on me.
1. Subverts Hollywood’s problem with ageism
When was the last time that you watched a show where the protagonist was over 60? Raise the bar even lower to 50 and the answer still resists a resounding head scratch. “The old die young” is an adage I aptly coined for the Hollywood industry.
There’s no secret that Hollywood resides on a foundation of “lookism”, discrimination fixated on a person’s appearance. Studies show that attractiveness implies more desirable physical traits. Simply put, they tend to be liked more by others. For an enterprise that depends entirely on the attention of a passive onlooker, it’s no surprise that cast directors choose the youngest, tallest, and best-looking of the bunch.
Grace and Frankie does all to subvert ageism in Hollywood. The main protagonists are all 80-years and older. A common trap that mainstream television shows fall into is commodifying their unconventionality for viewer count. The show, however, writes itself to avoid this by embracing their unorthodoxy by actively exploring the role aging plays in their lives.
2. A diverse cast that feels natural – maybe not with race
It seems that diversity is a hard thing for shows to implement properly. Shows so easily fall into the rabbit hole of token characters used as trophies for their color, queerness, etc. These shows avoid the wrath of cancel-culture while others shamelessly omit the entire notion.
Grace and Frankie create a realm in which it’s natural to be different whether racially, sexually, or even neurotypically. Brianna is the shining image of cold confidence, but she is forced to explore her latent sentimental side with conflict and compromise with her boyfriend Barry. Mallory, her sister, navigates a divorce saturated with sexual tension from Coyote who lives in a trailer home in front of her own.
I do admit that there is a problem with the portrayal of race in this show. There are no major characters of color at the forefront of the show, aside from Nwabudike. Even he represents a major flaw: his name seems to be the only immersion into his African heritage provided by Frankie and Sol, his adopted parents.
Maybe it’s too much to ask of a show to do EVERYTHING.
3. Serves real plot and character growth
I acknowledge that media is consumed as a break from reality. But whenever a comedic show stars the lives of real people, it always seems to be a choice of comedy versus realism, and comedy seems to always win.
Writers Marta Kauffman, Howard Morris, David Budin, and Brendan McCarthy write Grace and Frankie to maintain a perfect balance of both humor and realistic commentary. In fact, its plot goes beyond by exploring the true human condition and does so beautifully. The storyline provides meaningful insight into the lives (and problems) of the characters so that in the end even the viewer can learn a thing or two.
Yes, you read the subtitle correctly.
I simply love the fact that Grace and Frankie own a dildo business for older women. Building off the first subtopic, it subverts the entire stereotype that shames women for seeking pleasure, albeit older ones. And if Menage a Moi was real, you know I’d be a very happy consumer.
5. Gags galore + guest stars
What else is there to say, the show’s funny.
The gags make sense with each character. Their quirks are written to naturally bounce off the characters making nothing seem artificial. The amount of times, too, I squealed at the cameo of a “Friends” character is two. But it’s still two more than I expected. Each cameo is incorporated naturally into the plot too. Lisa Kudrow plays Sheree, Grace’s overbearing manicurist, like a glove fits a hand. Watching her, I forgot that she was on Friends at all – that was just a bonus.
I envy new viewers of Grace and Frankie. I would give my bloodline to watch this show for the first time again – let alone six seasons worth. Six seasons of Grace and Frankie exploring the true essence of the human condition albeit in their affluence and privilege. But this is a sitcom in its nature. There’re forty minutes to involve yourself in a more entertaining world in all its flaws, and it sure is full of shits and giggles. The last, rotten eggs are the lucky ones after all.
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