Seeing our parents grow older. It’s something that you start to become conscious of in your twenties and fully aware of as you enter your thirties and forties. When then are tasked to understand our aging parents as the roles begin to change in the one true lifelong relationship we have…
Fortunately for us, there is a groundbreaking show, one that tackles the phenomenon on aging parents with warmth, humility and most of all humor. That show is Grace and Frankie.
The series was co-created by Marta Kaufmann, who also happens the co-creator of the show that defined Generation X, the legendary Friends. The all-star cast is helmed by four well-known stars, which creates a parental familiarity since each of them were in our homes regularly growing up through television and/or film. Grace, played by Jane Fonda (On Golden Pond, Jane Fonda’s Workout), and Frankie, played by Lily Tomlin (9 to 5, Murphy Brown, The West Wing), are both suddenly single. How you ask? Their husbands, business partners and divorce lawyers, Robert, played by Martin Sheen (The West Wing) and Sol, played by Sam Waterston (Law and Order), leave them…for each other.
Not the best of friends by any stretch of the imagination, Grace and Frankie take up at a beach house that they (along with their now ex-husbands) jointly purchased years earlier. Over time, a strong friendship and bond emerges as the suddenly single 70-year-olds navigate these uncharted waters together. Added to the mix are their four thirty-something children including Austinite Brooklyn Decker (married to tennis champ Andy Roddick), who shines as Mallory, youngest daughter of Grace and Robert.
Grace and Frankie is at its best when tackling issues we as adult children face with our aging parents. The show tackles them honestly, often without a clean and tidy ending as it is in real life. These themes familiar to many of us and include resisting retirement and passing the family business onto the next generation, being enrolled into the hospital and they do not want to tell their children because “they are fine” and a hilarious take on “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up,” just to name a few.
In addition to the laughs, Grace and Frankie offers us something far more important as adult children of aging parents. It’s an understanding to what parents are going through from their perspective. Watching it is much more than about being entertained, it is about having empathy for our parents and their actions which may not make sense to us, but makes perfect sense to them.
Season 4 of Grace and Frankie premieres on Netflix Friday January 19th. Seasons 1 through 3 are available on Netflix now.