Grace and Frankie
There are films and television serials that entertain or make us think; sometimes they make us do both. But there is a Netflix serial, Grace and Frankie, that not only abounds in entertainment, edification, and comedy but seems to grow out of the lives of two American women who have unhappily come together due to the tragic realization that their husbands never loved them. Instead, they loved each other for twenty out of the forty years that they lived with their wives (Grace and Frankie). The very premise is disturbing and at the same time, hilarious. But the great accomplishment of this serial is that it treats a serious subject jokingly, yet very realistically. Besides, it also inspires elderly women to take difficulties casually and enjoy life even as the problems come instead of being defeated by them. The serial is a great medium for looking at American culture from close quarters. Very traditional and orthodox people are advised to avoid watching this serial unless of course, they want to see what the other side of the mountain looks like.
The role of Grace is played by no one less than Jane Fonda and Frankie is played by the adorable Lily Tomlin. Each of these characters, though having totally diverse personalities, is able to overcome the dislike for the other gradually. Hardship and necessity drive them together. I’ve never watched another serial in which trouble can be tackled with so much pleasure. This serial reveals our contemporary world with its oddities and its increasingly complex outcomes. Grace and Frankie reveals that as civilization advances, mankind learns to become more and more bohemian and plunges into what society has been considering not quite right. It teaches us how to laugh away our oddities. While on the one hand, this serial discloses a total collapse of what was considered moral earlier, it also shows how people are gradually giving up hypocrisy and allowing each other to live individualistically.
The ex-husbands of Grace and Frankie are also great characters. These roles have been played by Martin Sheen and Sam Waterson. It is difficult to say which of the two the better actor is. The serial teaches us to love people in spite of whatever seems wrong with them. It is like Shakespeare saying, nothing is either good or bad but thinking makes it so. The ex-husbands and ex-wives continue to like each other sufficiently not to pose problems for each other. They are indeed tolerant and accommodating. Life must go on and it does, as it should, in contemporary America. There is a wonderful co-mingling of races just as there is an advocacy of respect for the elderly. The younger generation (Grace’s two daughters and the two adopted sons of Frankie) has brilliant actors as well. Each one seems to be better than the other.
The number of lovers Grace has after the age of seventy and the ease with which Frankie deals with her own lover, also at Grace’s age, before she finally gives him up is fascinating. These women make us conscious of the problems women can face when they find themselves in the position that these two do. It also shows that hatred is not something that should remain; suffering can change it into love. The two are bold enough to not only admit that women older than seventy still have the sexual desire but they also have the mettle to become manufacturers of vibrators that can appease such desire.
Ultimately, it is a serial for women and men alike. It is not surprising that the creators of this serial are a woman and a man, Marta Kauffman and Howard J. Morris. I feel that there should be more such creations in which a woman and a man team up to remove gender problems that sometimes get the better of single producers. To watch this serial is to fall in love with all those that make it such a rich picture of human and humane life. This serial has the potential to grip the imaginations of peoples whose cultures are not at all like the culture of America.