The first season of Grace and Frankie introduced us to the immortal words “I must have half the beach in my vagina”. Season 2 reminded us that Frankie is an “intuitive witch with limited self-control and a computer”. Season 3? Here’s just one of the countless phrases to be heard from her: “This [business] idea came to me in a dream: I was shaving a cat, only it wasn’t a cat and it wasn’t me.”
Need we say more?
The third season of one of TV’s smartest shows kicks off several months after the mic-dropping conclusion of Season 2, which saw Grace (Jane Fonda) and Frankie (Lily Tomlin) drop the M-bomb, informing their adult children and ex-husbands that they are going to launch a company that distributes vibrators for older women. After the duo’s lifelong friend, Babe (portrayed by Oscar-winning veteran Estelle Parsons), passes away, they find themselves left a parting gift: a set of new paintbrushes for Frankie and a vibrator for the ever-uptight Grace. Unsurprisingly, Grace is a stranger to the modern vibrator and, while it revitalises her sexual frustration, it triggers her Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – a common symptom for the older generation – hence, their newfound business venture.
Grace and Frankie has been a hit with audiences and critics alike, and with good reason. Fonda and Tomlin’s reunion (following their collaboration in the 1980 comedy 9 to 5) is one of utmost pleasure; their chemistry, timing and wit exceeds what audiences are used to these days. While it is undeniable that we witness talent in shows such as The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Transparent, Fonda and Tomlin bring a whole other league of knowledge to the screen.
The same is said for its supporting cast, with Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston still offering a sweet and comical examination of the modern, older gay couple as Robert and Sol, as well as Ernie Hudson as Frankie’s understanding and caring boyfriend, Jacob. In addition, the parents’ adult children receive more screen time this season, as we witness a more detailed account into their complicated and turbulent relationships. However, it is June Diane Raphael who steals the show once again as Grace’s blunt and bold daughter, Brianna. Raphael is sheer brilliance: her timing, jocularity and intelligence is humorous to say the least, and her candidness is beyond refreshing for a female audience. More people need to be aware of this woman – she is a female comic virtuoso.
Now, while the show offers countless laughs and entertainment, there is more to Grace and Frankie than meets the eye. Its fundamentality lies within the narrative: after the first season explored the difficulties of starting over at 70, and the second season explored the importance of friendship, Season 3 explores sexuality for the older, female generation. Older people do have sex, and while it may not be a topic the majority of us want to discuss with our parents, they are sexually active – and they do masturbate. Grace and Frankie has triggered this topic of conversation that the older demographic is too embarrassed to discuss and – in an age in which ridicule and scrutiny is constantly heightened – shows like Grace and Frankie are hopefully the catalyst to allowing its viewers to feel less alienated about such cloistered matters.
Frankie stated in Season 2 that Shaman Earl informed her that she was going to feel something very powerful and a week later she saw The Notebook – well the same could be said for Grace and Frankie’s third run. The complexities of these characters are authentic, tangible and relatable – and not just to viewers of a certain generation. Fonda and Tomlin are more than Hollywood icons – they are role models for women of all ages. Christ-on-a-cupcake, Grace and Frankie isn’t just a pleasure: it’s a necessity.
Grace and Frankie Season 1 to 4 is available to watch online on Netflix UK, as part of a £7.99 monthly subscription.
Photo: Melissa Moseley/Netflix