Halftime Leisure

Grace and Frankie and My Journey to Emotional Stability

April 10, 2017

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

I’ve reached an impressive and all together foreign state of emotional stability watching Netflix’s Grace and Frankie.

It may seem odd that I would find inner peace through 13 episodes of semi-impressive television. But I relate so intimately to Grace (Jane Fonda) and Frankie (Lily Tomlin), two drastically different women whose husbands divorced them to marry each other. These women (to cruelly reduce them to a few adjectives) are retired, grieving, and trudging through a code-red, Level 9 life crisis.

But then again, Grace and Frankie are two people carving out their own definition of womanhood, trying to repair broken hearts, looking for love, getting excited about dates, experiencing the rollercoaster ride of living with your best friend, solving roomie misunderstandings (the real lover’s quarrel), committing what would seem to be scientifically impossible catastrophes in the kitchen while trying to cook dinner, and debating how early is too early to pull the vodka out of the freezer. (Of course, here we do differ slightly: I’m more of a spearmint tea kinda gal, bien sûr.)

Wonderfully, the show is a fragmentation or collage or curation of what can only be called gaffes. Every single character is dysfunctional. Each of the ten main cast members could reasonably hold an eponymous show of their own. It’s a celebration of eccentricity, an invitation to a mode of living divorced from inhibitions or social constrictions. It’s completely liberating. The characters are all aware of their age, sex, relationship status, personality flaws, and abusive relationship with Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, but completely embrace those factors. And then turn them on their heads.

The show is so comforting. It’s more comforting than watching Friends or the second Harry Potter film (if you can even imagine). (But not the first HP film—too nostalgic, too many emotions.) Grace and Frankie teaches you anything can happen. You can get married or have kids or start your own business or get divorced, because at any point you can hit the restart button and begin again.

Besides, there is an inspiring and infectious sense of life that Tomlin and Fonda exude. Fonda looks like a boss. Tomlin looks like a goddess. Of course, both are absolutely gorgeous, but it’s comforting to know a swipe of mascara and a pair of black kitten heels have the same transformative powers whether you’re 27 or 72. Perhaps when whittled to its core, Grace and Frankie is a lesson on the art of personal style and the religion of fashion. Your shoes will never leave you. Your power suit will always fit you. Oh, the predictability—that’s what sculpts the best relationships.

Well, maybe not. But the point remains: if everything else in your world is going to the zoo, your well-organized, color-coded, machine-labeled wardrobe will always be ready to take you out for a night on the town. Any anxieties about relationships or futures or careers or identities evaporate. If all else fails, I can live in a tiny house in my best friend’s back yard. And that doesn’t sound so bad.

The show isn’t perfect, but neither am I (or so I’m told). Grace and Frankie are perfectly imperfect, living perfectly happy lives with every whimsy and giggle and fancy and gaggle they please.

((P.S. HMU if you want to grow old together!!! Brb starting a singles’ commune.))

Emma Francois
is the highest-pitched voice on the fashion + sex podcast, Stripped.


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i’m only 6 episodes in Grace and Frankie, but i am already singing praises. Whereas in television the female protagonist will melt down and have a dramatic collapse of heaven and earth when her partner of years leave her, not to mention Grace and Frankie cheated by their own husbands for 20 years, the horror and the realistic gradual crashing of feelings from ALL of the people involve is just liberating. Grace and Frankie has the emotional maturity that comes from a peak that a 20 year old me cannot begin to fathom. Watching them go through it hurt me although they have taught me a lot. Much to be said! and much love to the show!