Grace and Frankie: Netflix Brings a New Perspective on Old Age
This new show gave us something new to watch after ages of cliché sitcoms and rehashed stories. Grace and Frankie is primarily based on four characters in their 70’s who are trying to deal with life when something unexpected hits them.
Grace’s husband leaves her for Frankie’s husband, both of whom were in a secret love affair for about twenty years along with being partners in a law firm together. The two women then start living in a beach house the two families got together years ago. Despite their initial annoyance to one another, they both end up creating a beautiful friendship, which flourishes as the episodes go by.
What this show achieves to do is portray old people in a way like never before. To put it simply, they portray old people as, well, just people. Of course, other family shows like Modern Family and Superior Donuts have one main old character who is also portrayed as a normal person, but we classify them as the old person in that entire show. More often than not, their old age becomes a defining trait as no other character shares the trait.
Whereas Grace and Frankie is primarily based on old people and how they live their lives. In its own spectacular way, it’s removing the stereotypes surrounding old people that often infantilize them. We see these four unique characters, with their own interesting personalities going about their life as anyone would. The fact that they’re old is just a trait they have to deal with; it’s not the sole focus of their character or even the show. The show adds another layer when the story becomes about reinventing identities. It both gives us fear and hope when we realize that anything can happen when we’re in our 70’s. Like Grace and Frankie, we might think everything is just fine with our life partners for 40 years and the same daily routine would continue until our death, but suddenly our life could be turned upside down and we would have to create new lives from scratch. Grace being organized and judgmental becomes more compassionate and eager to take risks. Frankie being completely in love and dependent on her husband Sol and her hippie lifestyle learns that she needs to let go of some things and focus on new ones. Their husbands, Robert and Sol, create a new life together where they can finally be themselves and completely free.
However the show doesn’t completely ignore the factors that come with old age. That ensures that the show stays even more realistic than others can be. It’s not stereotypical behavior of old people just losing their sense or memory completely as they grow old, it just highlights the fact that eventually most of us will have to deal with old age and each one of us will have our unique problems, whether it be physical or mental. It shows that we won’t be able to depend on ourselves, which you can’t deny. With instances like Grace hurting herself while using a vibrator due to her arthritis and Frankie having a hard time getting her license due to her weak memory, and at one point both of them spending a whole day laying in bed because of back pain that only comes with old age, we still see that they don’t get disheartened to the point of giving up on life. They keep going on to the best of their abilities.
Another amazing point they showed really well is the family dynamics. We all know that in this fast-paced world of today, the kids of these characters are busy with their own lives and can’t care for them full-time which is something very realistic. Instead of the ideology that they are just getting rid of their old parents, the show focuses on the real problems that all the characters have to deal with. The parents have to figure out how to live their new lives and their kids have to figure out to how to be there for them in a way that’s required. The producers portrayed a careful view where family dynamics were hilariously relatable to our own with perfectly timed jokes and heartwarming moments alike. It’s a truly feel good show which also tells us a special lesson on staying connected with our parents in an increasingly disconnected world. The finale really puts a strain on the relationships since the kids ended up putting Grace and Frankie to an assisted living facility after their house gets robbed and Frankie ends up in Mexico with her granddaughter, but we are guessing that the show will really put an interesting way to repair the relationships.
It would be interesting to see how the unique traits of Grace and Frankie flourish and adapt in the next season and what new story developments will unfold. But we do know one thing; these are characters we can all relate to, no matter what our age is. Isn’t that what quality entertainment is all about?